Hillary Warns Kerry: Hands Off McAuliffe

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  1. MtnBiker
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    MtnBiker Senior Member

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    Friday, Mar. 5, 2004 10:52 AM EST
    Hillary Warns Kerry: Hands Off McAuliffe

    Uber Democrat Sen. Hillary Clinton is warning all-but-certain presidential nominee John Kerry to back off if he's thinking about replacing party chairman Terry McAuliffe before the election.

    Asked about rumblings that the Kerry camp wanted to toss McAuliffe over the side, Clinton told the New York Times on Friday, "Terry has helped the Democratic Party move into the 21st century to compete against the incredible interlocking institutional powers of the other side."

    "A lot of plans have been laid, a lot of infrastructure put in place, and I want to see us follow through," she insisted.

    The disagreement over McAuliffe's future could be just the tip of the iceberg of a growing rift between the Clintons, who, through McAuliffe, still control the party's machinery - and Sen. Kerry's political team, which now sees itself in the driver's seat.

    Sen. Clinton, for instance, reminded the Times that her husband did not replace the party chairman when he became the nominee in 1992 - a none too subtle hint that she expects Kerry to follow suit.

    Still, the Kerry camp is reportedly bristling over McAuliffe's antics, such as his decision to publicly allege that President Bush went AWOL from the National Guard. That stunt put the spotlight on parts of Kerry's past that he preferred not to discuss - such as his decision to team up Jane Fonda for anti-war protests in the 1970s.

    Another sign of the growing rift between the Kerry and Clinton teams came late Tuesday, when Sen. Clinton offered an unenthusiastic endorsement to Kerry as the party's inevitable nominee, and did so on Japanese TV - a venue where few Americans were likely to notice.

    Strategists for the Massachusetts Democrat are said to be considering different ways to curb McAuliffe's independence - a move that would certainly limit the influence wielded by Sen. Clinton and her husband in upcoming campaign decisions.

    Still, Kerry strategists, aware that alienating the Clintons could cost their candidate in more ways than one, have to be careful not to ignite an internal civil war.

    Even without McAuliffe, for example, Sen. Clinton controls the Democratic Party's presidential media fund through her right hand man Harold Ickes, who has the backing of Bush-bashing billionaire George Soros.

    And other Democratic groups that will play critical roles in the 2004 election include Americans Coming Together, founded by Hillary ally Ellen Malcom, and the Center for American Progress, run by former Clinton White House chief of staff John Podesta.


    link

    Now why would Hillary not want McAuliffe's position in jeporday?
    Damn Kerry has to campaign against Bush and the Clintons.
    Hillary may be the V.P. yet.
     
  2. MtnBiker
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    MtnBiker Senior Member

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    New York Times:

    Terry McAuliffe, the effusive chairman of the Democratic National Committee, was holding forth recently in front of big-time donors in the buttery yellow living room at Hickory Hill, the fabled manor of the Kennedy clan in McLean, Va.

    He was boasting with schoolyard bravado about why he had said President Bush was AWOL from the National Guard in the Vietnam War, a remark that incensed the White House but forced administration officials to release hundreds of pages of Mr. Bush's military history.

    "I want to send a message to these Republicans," Mr. McAuliffe asserted. "I promise: if you punch me, I will punch you back harder."

    The donors, a genteel collection of professionals sipping wine and seated on chintz, erupted into whoops and hollers. But in Senator John Kerry's presidential campaign, reaction to the AWOL remark has been far less effusive. Top advisers to Mr. Kerry said they loved the way Mr. McAuliffe's riff threw the White House off balance. But they also said it was premature — the wrong issue at the wrong time. And it underscored a concern they had about Mr. McAuliffe as chairman of the party: could he be controlled?

    "At the time," an aide to Mr. Kerry said, "it wasn't what we wanted to be talking about."

    Now that Mr. Kerry is the de facto nominee after his primary victories on Tuesday, the AWOL remark has come to symbolize why his campaign is weighing whether to reduce Mr. McAuliffe's profile for the general election.

    Mr. Kerry's campaign manager, Mary Beth Cahill, said on Thursday that the campaign would let Mr. McAuliffe retain his title of chairman and that he would continue to raise money. As the party's most prolific fund-raiser, he pulled in $500 million over the years for President Bill Clinton.

    "He's prepared the troops of the Democratic Party, and we need his help to mobilize those troops and we're leaving him in place," Ms. Cahill said in an interview.

    She was less definitive about whether the campaign would name someone else over Mr. McAuliffe as general chairman.

    "We don't have any further plans," she said, suggesting that the campaign was swamped with other tasks. "Just six weeks ago, we were dead."

    Campaign officials have been batting back reports that they wanted to reduce Mr. McAuliffe's role. Yet they have made clear that they are toying with whether to bring in a general chairman to speak on behalf of Mr. Kerry and the party in a role that would inevitably lessen Mr. McAuliffe's autonomy. Explaining the problem that the campaign faces, an adviser to Mr. Kerry said about Mr. McAuliffe's fund-raising prowess and his willingness to be a lightning rod: "Terry is a very valuable player. Terry will say anything."

    The question, the adviser added, was whether Mr. McAuliffe could get in sync with Mr. Kerry's program.

    Mr. McAuliffe's role in the campaign is all the more delicate because he has friends in high places. Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, the New York Democrat who, with her husband, installed Mr. McAuliffe as party chairman when Mr. Clinton left the White House in 2001, was quick to point out in an interview that her husband did not replace the party chairman when he became the nominee in 1992.

    "A lot of plans have been laid, a lot of infrastructure put in place, and I want to see us follow through," Mrs. Clinton said. "Terry has helped the Democratic Party move into the 21st century to compete against the incredible interlocking institutional powers of the other side."

    In a way, Mr. McAuliffe has spent the last three years in one long audition to make the party, and himself, a player for when the nominee emerged.

    "This is his moment," said Donna Brazile, Al Gore's campaign manager and a Democratic committee member who has often butted heads with Mr. McAuliffe and is sometimes mentioned as a possible successor. "But it's also a moment of transition and a moment to redefine his role. The nominee has to decide whether Terry is an asset or a liability. I think they'll consider him an asset. He's been on the Titanic and knows how to bring it back up."

    Not all Democrats are such big fans, either of Mr. McAuliffe personally — they say he is more full of Barnum than ballast — or of his decision to move up the nominating calendar. They worry that the speeded-up process has produced a nominee who has not been fully vetted and has cut short the Democrats' months-long dominance of news coverage.

    Donald L. Fowler, a former Democratic national chairman, said he believed the process should have started later so that the nominee would be exposed for less time to the $150 million Republican advertising campaign before the convention in July.

    "Whether or not John Kerry can be an effective candidate operating on limited funds for four or five months until the convention will determine whether this was a good idea," Mr. Fowler said. "He will be greatly outgunned."

    Others credit Mr. McAuliffe for wrapping up the primary in a quick and tidy manner.

    "Having a nominee by the middle of March gives you a chance to bind up the wounds, get everyone on board and raise money to blunt the Republican onslaught," said Steve Grossman, a former Democratic national chairman and the chairman of Howard Dean's campaign.

    Mr. McAuliffe's star seems so bright that it has fueled speculation that when his term ends officially next March, he might run for office, possibly for governor of New York, where he originally comes from, or Florida, where his father-in-law, Richard Swann, is a major Democratic fund-raiser.

    Clearly relishing such talk, Mr. McAuliffe concedes an interest in "executive" office, but says he is leaving open his options. Politics seems second nature to him as he tends to the needs of state and local Democratic officials, stroking egos, making promises, thanking donors, drumming up an avalanche of local news coverage and brokering deals. He has earned i.o.u.'s everywhere, and whatever he decides to do, he can surely count on the support of the Clintons, his closest friends, who dropped in unannounced last month at the party headquarters to celebrate Mr. McAuliffe's 47th birthday.

    Mr. McAuliffe had to work his way into the Democratic Party's good graces. When Mr. Clinton left office, the party was reeling from having lost the White House — and from Mr. Clinton's pardons of wealthy donors. Many Democrats grumbled that giving the chairmanship to a fund-raiser would project the wrong image.

    The late Mayor Maynard H. Jackson of Atlanta challenged Mr. McAuliffe, saying he was preoccupied with money at the expense of the grass-roots. But the Clintons and Congressional leaders, including Senator Tom Daschle of South Dakota and Representative Richard A. Gephardt of Missouri, a longtime friend who was in Mr. McAuliffe's wedding, secured the position for Mr. McAuliffe.

    But the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, rendered his style of partisanship out of place. Stricter campaign finance laws resulting from the McCain-Feingold bill and the Democrats' loss of the Senate in 2002 combined to push the party to the sidelines.

    "After 2002, it was miserable," the party's chief operating officer, Josh Wachs, said. "We got blamed for everything."

    Mr. McAuliffe continued to squeeze weary donors. He brought the party out of its $18 million debt and raised $25 million more for a new headquarters, with up-to-date technology that he paid for in cash. The building, where his window-wrapped office overlooks the Capitol, is to open on March 25 with a fund-raising "unity" dinner with all the candidates who sought the nomination this year.

    Mr. McAuliffe built up a national voter file; hired Teresa Vilmain, one of the party's most respected field organizers; and cultivated small donors. He boasts of having $17.3 million for advertising to help Mr. Kerry. That is half of what Mr. Clinton used against Bob Dole in 1996 and one-tenth of what the Bush campaign expects to have.

    "The national party deserves a little credit now after being the scapegoat all the time," Gov. Bill Richardson, Democrat of New Mexico, said. "The D.N.C. could end up being one of our strongest weapons."

    Mr. McAuliffe said he had planned for a year to integrate the party into the eventual nominee's campaign. For several months, he dispatched Ms. Vilmain and Mr. Wachs to visit all the candidates to explain what the party could do. In the last three weeks, they worked closely with Mr. Kerry and Senator John Edwards's campaign, showing organizational charts of where they needed help, which they said, was with politics and message.

    "I do mechanics, not message," Mr. McAuliffe said in a recent interview.


    New York Times
     
  3. MtnBiker
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    MtnBiker Senior Member

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    How has much has McAuliffe help the Domocratic Party, they lost the White House, now the minority in the Senate, a minority in the House and have fewer Dem Governors.

    So why is Hillary supportive of McAuliffe?
     
  4. Zhukov
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    Zhukov VIP Member

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    Because he's a Clintonista.

    A Kerry victory would probably be the worst that could happen to the Clinton hold on the reins of power in the D party. Hillary is simply hedging her bets in the unlikely event Kerry wins.
     
  5. MtnBiker
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    MtnBiker Senior Member

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    Agreed, I wondered how a democrat felt about it ?
     
  6. Zhukov
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    Zhukov VIP Member

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    I notice you didn't write "what a democrat thought about it ?"

    Thinking vs. feeling. What does that remind me of?
     
  7. MtnBiker
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    MtnBiker Senior Member

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    You are very observant. :cool:
     
  8. winston churchi
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    winston churchi Member

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    Hillary Clinton. What could she gain if Kerry wins this election? No chance on this earth of seeing herself as Comm. and Ch.
    If Kerry wins, she will have to wait a minimum of eight years before she can run for Presidency. That is if Kerry wins a second election and if he does not - she is out completely. Now, in that eight years she could loose her senate seat to a republican. There is a rumor adrift that Gulliani may want that position and one wonders just how hard it would be for him to take it from her.

    If Kerry looses to Bush, Hillary will have her eyes set on the next term and there she would have a better chance of running.

    Overall it is too much of a gamble against her if Kerry wins. Eight years. That is a long time to wait and many things can happen in eight years - her becoming President is not likely.
     

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