While Sen. Hillary Clinton (D.-N.Y.) has generally tried to cultivate a moderate image in preparation for her 2008 presidential campaign, she occasionally revealed how left-wing she actually is while campaigning in this year’s midterm elections.
Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton were the last two Democrats to be elected President, and both started their national campaigns as relatively unknown Southern governors who somehow convinced voters in other Southern states that they weren’t too liberal to be President.
Hillary, on the other hand, has already been out collecting chits from gay-rights and abortion activists.
She steered clear of many Red States in this election cycle, and when she visited Ohio and Florida, she campaigned chiefly on economic issues.
In Ohio, where she stumped for ultra-liberal Sherrod Brown, who successfully ran for the Senate seat, she blasted Republicans on spending. The GOP, she said, had taken a “wrecking ball” to her husband’s budget surplus. It was time, she claimed, “to get back to Clinton economics … and move back to sensible, affordable tax policies.”
Even when Mrs. Clinton discussed Iraq, it was largely in economic terms. “We didn’t sign up for this huge debt” she said. “We didn’t sign up for a war in Iraq that has been marred by strategic blunders and mistake after mistake. We didn’t sign up for taking our eye off [Osama] bin Laden in Afghanistan and diverting resources away from that.”
(A reporter for the Toledo Blade noticed a curious thing that Hillary did when listening to Sherrod Brown’s speech: She clapped “even when he blasted [Republican incumbent Sen. Mike] DeWine for voting to authorize the Iraq war—a vote Mrs. Clinton also made.”)
When Hillary made a carefully orchestrated appearance in a Long Island, N.Y., suburb whose pre-dominantly Catholic, middle-class population resembled similar suburbs in Ohio, she stole a page from the playbook of former Democratic New York Gov. Mario Cuomo.
In February 1989, a homeowner named Carolyn Schiller wrote a letter to Cuomo asking him to “stop by my place” to discuss her complaints about property taxes. To her surprise, Cuomo accepted, and three months later he was in her living room with about 100 reporters, photographers and neighbors.
On October 11, Hillary and Democratic New York gubernatorial candidate Eliot Spitzer camped out in the living room of Republicans Chuck and Diane Doyle to talk about property taxes and schools with reporters and TV camera teams. Clinton promised she would secure more federal aid to foot college tuition bills for students from middle-class families.
In Florida, Hillary stumped with gubernatorial candidate Jim Davis, pounding messages on property-tax relief and lower insurance rates.
At other campaign stops, she campaigned on “middle-class values” defined in a lengthy piece published in the October edition of Democratic Leadership Committee’s Blueprint magazine. In addition to increasing aid for college expenses, she pledged to reduce health costs, energy costs and cut taxes for the middle class.
She said that “we need a new economic formula of Democratic capitalism” and supported “the pay-as-you-go rule so Congress can’t enact new spending programs or tax cuts without showing how they will pay for them.”
Against Parental Consent
But under the radar, Hillary pandered to the far-left-wing base of the Democratic Party.
On October 18, about 250,000 California voters received an automated pre-recorded message from the New York senator asking them to oppose a ballot measure that would require parents to be notified before a minor has an abortion.
“Hello, this is Senator Clinton,” said the recording. “Please join me, the California Medical Association, and so many concerned parents and oppose Proposition 85. We are opposed to 85 because it will put our most vulnerable teens at risk, teens who may be already endangered by negligent and even abusive homes. We can do better. Let’s work together to protect our children.” Prop 85 was defeated.
The message echoed a speech Mrs. Clinton gave to the Women’s Foundation of California in 2005. “Laws cannot mandate family communications, and there needs to be recognition of that,” she said then.
Hillary has also joined with self-proclaimed pro-life Democrat Sen. Harry Reid (Nev.) to “increase awareness” about unplanned pregnancies, ostensibly as a strategy for reducing the total number of abortions. In reality, the Clinton-Reid proposal would only increase government funding to abortion providers such as Planned Parenthood.
Hillary also met with a coalition of New York-based “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender” leaders and said she believes in “full-benefits, nothing left out” for same-sex couples.
The Gay City News appeared to be the only news outlet given access to the event, at which Hillary explained that the goal of “nothing left out” for same-sex couples would likely be achieved by “civil unions or domestic partnerships.” “That is my very considered assessment,” she said.
Mrs. Clinton also recently signed on to Democratic Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman’s bill to give full insurance benefits to same-sex couples.
Hillary also pushed for a more internationalist foreign policy, apparently heeding the advice of long-time Clinton advisers Paul Begala and James Carville.
Political operatives Begala and Carville argue in their book, Take it Back: A Battle Plan for Democratic Victory, that Democrats can force Americans to accept an internationalist approach by persuading voters that terrorists are motivated by political goals and that cooperating and ceding power to other nations projects strength, not weakness.
Hillary hit their mark. In an October 31 speech to the Council on Foreign Relations, she said the U.S. must “by word and deed renew internationalism for a new century.”
She explained that the United States must “modernize and revitalize” international institutions. “And when needed,” she said, “get about the hard work of creating new ones.”
Clinton admitted the United Nations had faults, but said those faults would be alleviated with “a greater commitment from some of the leading nations.”
Begala and Carville also recommend that Democrats talk persuasively and openly about their faith. In order to win, they argued, “Democrats simply must be more comfortable alluding to their faith in public.” “Democrats need to hit voters where they live—or, rather, where they pray,” they said.
On November 4, Hillary appeared at former New York Democratic Rep. Floyd Flake’s 10,000-member African-American congregation in Queens. There, the New York Times said, Hillary compared her critics to the “Back to Egypt Committee.” She said, “You know, there’s always going to be somebody to say: ‘You know, I think we should go back to Egypt. We can’t transform bad housing, we can’t do it, we can’t afford it. We don’t know how to do it. Do we really want those people in our church?’”
Hillary then optimistically said, “We need prophetic voices to say, ‘Yes we do, yes we do.’”
This isn’t the first time Hillary has tried to project a religious image. At the National Prayer Breakfast in 1997, she joked that “it’s crossed my mind that you could not be a Republican and a Christian at the same time.”
“I am, you know, adamantly against illegal immigrants,” she said on WABC Radio in 2003. This year, before voting for the Hagel-Martinez immigration bill that gives amnesty to illegal aliens, she charged that the House immigration bill that focused on border security and work-site enforcement of the law was anti-Christian. “It is certainly not in keeping with my understanding of the Scriptures, because this bill would literally criminalize the Good Samaritan and probably even Jesus himself,” she said.
Hillary also co-sponsored a bill to extend deadlines for illegal aliens living inside the United States to apply for visas and sponsored an amendment to prohibit the use of federal funds for removing, deporting or detaining illegal aliens related to victims of September 11.