Hillary Watch: Week of October 31

Let Them Eat Cake. Senators recently acted to freeze their own pay in light of the current budget crunch. However, it will save only an estimated $2 million, which seems fairly insignificant for an institution filled with millionaires (42 at last count). This includes Hillary, whose last reported personal wealth is more than $13 million.

She criticized House members, of whom about 70% are not independently wealthy, for being somewhat reluctant to freeze their cost-of-living increase as “demonstrating they don’t know what’s going on in America.” She added: “People can’t pay gas prices, can’t pay tuition, can’t pay for health care. Why should we be giving ourselves a pay increase when we’re not doing the work that’s going to help the people deal with their expenses?”

Cindy Strikes Again. Antiwar activist Cindy Sheehan recently urged opponents of the Iraq War to oppose Hillary unless she opposes the conflict. Sheehan told the Associated Press: “I believe that any candidate who supports the war should not receive our support. It doesn’t matter if they’re Sen. Clinton or whoever.”

Considering that a significant portion of Democratic primary voters will likely be vehemently antiwar, Sheehan’s advice could have adverse consequences for Hillary. Although Sheehan met with Hillary last month to discuss the war, the grieving mother apparently was not impressed: “After she met with me, she said she has to make sure our sons didn’t die in vain. That is a totally Republican talking point.” Hillary’s campaign spokeswoman, Ann Lewis, declined to comment on Sheehan’s criticism.

Blame Big Oil. Hillary recently revealed a plan to have the government collect billions of dollars in new fees from major oil companies and use the money to fund energy research and lower heating costs. This “strategic energy fund” would bring in as much as $20 billion a year for new research and rebates or tax breaks for those who need help with their energy bills. She told a clean energy audience this effort is needed to deal with a looming energy crisis. She noted that the recent increase in energy costs “have exposed the administration’s policy for what it is: using an umbrella to fend off a hurricane.”

Although she does not consider her plan to be a tax, she did say the money should be taken solely out of “unexpected profits to oil companies, without passing the cost on to consumers.” Meanwhile, she also said she hoped the recently passed House energy bill would not get to the Senate floor but instead “die a slow, private death.”

New Poll. A new Marist College poll shows Rudy Giuliani and John McCain decisively defeating Hillary in potential presidential match-ups, but shows Hillary beating Condi Rice handily. The hypothetical match-ups had Hillary losing 50% to 43% to Giuliani and 50% to 41% to McCain, but beating Rice by nine points. The poll also showed Hillary getting 41% support among registered Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents for the nomination, with John Kerry coming in second place at 17%.

Separation of Church and State? Hillary recently spoke at an Atlanta synagogue, where she accused President Bush of blowing the balanced budget and destroying the alleged fiscal responsibility that she claims her husband created as President. She also said the Bush Administration should rethink its policy in Iraq. While she doesn’t support a deadline for withdrawing troops from Iraq, or leaving U.S. troops there for an undetermined amount of time, she wants to encourage the Iraqi people to take more control of their security and let them know American troops won’t be there forever. Said Hill: “We need a much stronger commitment to the underlying values of America.”

As for the economy, Hillary blasted the administration, saying, “Borrow and spend, borrow and spend, that’s all we’ve done the last four years. This has been the only time in history that our President has taken us to war and cut taxes at the same time. It doesn’t add up.” The Republican National Committee responded by saying that “Finger pointing doesn’t create jobs or make our nation safer,” and that Hillary should “instead try to offer up an actual agenda.”