Wednesday, May 31, 2006
The Morning Grind
Clinton to accept nomination for a second term; Is a White House bid on the horizon?

BUFFALO, New York (CNN) -- Joyce Brady is not shy about sharing her thoughts on Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton. The 69-year-old retiree from Seneca Falls wants the New York Democrat to run for president and Brady said she is prepared to defend Clinton at every turn.

"I can't tolerate anyone manufacturing untrue statements about her," Brady said yesterday during a break at the New York State Democratic Committee 2006 Convention. "I don't want anyone to hurt her, by lying or scare tactics or speaking ill about her daughter or husband."

"I think the world would be better if she were our president," Brady added. She repeated the phrase word-for-word a second time for emphasis.

The question of whether Clinton will actually run for president won't be answered this morning when she takes the stage to accept the Democratic nomination for the Senate. But with nominal opposition in November, a $20 million war chest and a team of experienced political advisers on board, all signs point to a 2008 White House campaign.

While Rep. Joe Crowley (D-New York) said today's speech is about Clinton's re-election to the Senate, he acknowledged that this might be the time for Clinton to make a run for the White House.

"I think she is a tremendous elected official, intelligent, caring and genuinely concerned," Crowley said in an interview outside the convention ballroom. "And I think that one thing that New York has shown and I think can help teach the nation is that there is more to this woman than at least the media has led us to believe."

"I would support her wholeheartedly," Crowley added. "I would work morning, noon and night for her."

But not all New Yorkers agree with Brady and Crowley. A WNBC/Marist poll released earlier this month showed that 49 percent of registered New York voters would like to see her run for president, while 44 percent were against it. One of those people is Joe Cassidy, a 62-year-old Democrat from the small town of Alabama, New York.

"Personally, I think there are probably some better candidates," he said during a break in the convention proceedings. "I don't like her stance on the war and she is a little bit too chummy with people like Newt Gingrich."

Clinton has been criticized for her position on the Iraq war, and there is a chance opponents of it will make their voices heard this morning both inside and outside the convention hall. A Clinton adviser, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, acknowledged that this speech is very important and noted the campaign has gone to great lengths to maximize its effectiveness including having a video produced for it.

"Obviously, you don't want any mistakes to happen," the adviser said. "You can't control the uncontrollable. You can't control someone from the audience shouting, 'What about the war.' But you can control the things that are in your command. You can control the speech, your delegates, the message, obviously the accessory items such as the film. What you really want is a smooth operation and good stories."

Clinton is expected to take the stage around 11 a.m. ET, but beforehand the New York senator will host a breakfast and later tonight she will participate in a teleconference "House Party" being organized by her campaign.

Dan Ronayne, a spokesman for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, said it is no surprise that Clinton is getting the Democratic nomination as she seeks a second term. But he added, "What will be interesting to see is if Hillary's speech is more about the future of New York or if it's more about the political future of Hillary Clinton."

If Clinton does decide to run for the White House, some people believe that her husband, former President Bill Clinton, will be one of her greatest assets.

"I think with her education and with Bill Clinton behind her, I think she could give it a shot," said Cathleen Rogers, a 39-year-old from Hamilton.

***

DEMOCRATS PICK SPITZER AND CUOMO. New York Democrats kicked off the convention yesterday by choosing state Attorney General Eliot Spitzer to be the gubernatorial nominee and former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Andrew Cuomo as their candidate to replace Spitzer. During his acceptance speech that ended with a balloon drop, Spitzer referenced his history of taking on Wall Street and he vowed to use the same vigor to help revitalize the Empire State's economy.

"In this campaign, we are fighting for the very soul of government, the very future of New York," he said. "The crowd in charge in Albany is out of touch, out of ideas, and come January 1, they'll be out of time."

Cuomo, son of former New York Gov. Mario Cuomo (D), mentioned his own failed bid for governor four years ago in his acceptance speech and noted that he has learned a lot since then. State Sen. David Paterson was chosen as the Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor. While Spitzer and Cuomo got the party's nod they still could face primaries in September if their respective opponents are able to collect enough signatures to be listed on the ballot. Meanwhile, New York Republicans meet this week to nominate their candidates. Former Massachusetts Gov. William Weld and former state Assembly Leader John Fasso are battling for the GOP gubernatorial nod, while Jeanine Pirro is expected to be the nominee for attorney general. Former Yonkers Mayor John Spencer and Kathleen Troia McFarland are competing for the Republican Senate nomination.

***

EXPERTS CONTEND FBI WAS WRONG TO RAID JEFFERSON'S OFFICE. Experts told the House Judiciary Committee yesterday that the FBI overstepped its bounds by conducting a weekend raid on Rep. William Jefferson's (D-Louisiana) Capitol Hill office. The federal agents were looking for additional evidence in an investigation to determine if Jefferson accepted bribes.

"This raid had all the elements of unconstitutional executive intimidation," said Charles Tiefer, a constitutional scholar at the University of Baltimore. Tiefer said the overnight search of Jefferson's office last weekend violated "a previously sacrosanct constitutional tradition" that protects the papers of lawmakers.

Bruce Fein, a constitutional scholar and a principal at The Lichfield Group, a Washington consulting firm, said agents had other ways to prove wrongdoing by a member of Congress without "rummaging through their files."

"I underscore 'files,'" Fein said, "because that's what's protected by the 'speech or debate' clause -- not cash, not evidence and instrumentality of crime, drugs, a handgun, a corpse."

Judiciary Chairman James Sensenbrenner (R-Wisconsin) said he wants to call Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and FBI Director Robert Mueller as witnesses in future hearings on the matter. "The materials taken very likely include communications created in the course of legitimate legislative process and have nothing to do whatsoever with criminal inquiry into Rep. Jefferson's activities," Sensenbrenner said.

Meanwhile, House General Counsel Geraldine Gennet sent a letter to Gonzales Tuesday afternoon, proposing talks "as early as next week" to hammer out guidelines for searching congressional offices. Justice Department spokesman Brian Roehrkasse said the department looks forward "to working to address the concerns of some members of the Congress."

***

IT ALL DEPENDS ON WHAT YOU MEAN BY THE DEFINITION OF DECEIVE. When President Bush was asked at a May 25 news conference if Treasury Secretary John Snow had indicated he would leave his job soon, Bush said no. "He has not talked to me about resignation," Bush said. "I think he's doing a fine job."

But CNN's Ed Henry reports that by the White House's own account the Treasury Secretary position had been offered to Goldman Sachs CEO Henry Paulson five days before and that Paulson accepted the job on the 21st. White House Press Secretary Tony Snow told reporters yesterday that the President simply answered that Secretary Snow had not spoken to him about resigning, but never said there were not other discussions happening.

"I mean, it was artfully worded," White House spokesman Snow said. "But on the other hand, the one thing you do not want to do in a situation like this is to start speculating about changes before the changes are ready to be made. Those do have impacts on markets, and you have to be responsible and cautious in the way you deal with them. Again, at that point, Hank Paulson, you've got to make sure that you've got all the clearances taken care of."
Posted By Mark Preston, CNN Political Unit: 5/31/2006 07:51:00 AM ET | Permalink
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