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Take of the Week: May 7-11

Hillary Blasts the Prez. When President George W. Bush exercised his rarely used veto power to halt the Iraq War supplemental spending bill that included a date-certain for a pullout of U.S. troops from Iraq, Hillary was quick to respond. She said that “President Bush has made it clear that he is standing in the way of ending the war in Iraq and bringing our troops home” and that it’s time for him “to stop disregarding the will of the American people and to work with Democrats on a funding bill that will enable us to begin redeploying our troops.” And not only is the President blowing the war in Iraq, says Hillary, but his veto also “has taken us back a step in meeting the homeland security needs of our high-threat cities like New York City” and “shirked his responsibility to address the growing health needs affecting those exposed to the toxic air around Ground Zero in the wake of 9/11.”

Where’s the Rodham? It has been noticed that when it comes to her bid for the Democratic presidential nomination, Hillary is no longer using her maiden name — Rodham — in her campaign press releases and on her campaign website. When it comes to 2008, she is only identifying herself as “Hillary Clinton.” Hillary says she hasn’t given any thought to the apparent change, and her spokesman Howard Wolfson claims that “there’s no plan behind it,” unlike the last time she stopped using Rodham, after Bill lost his re-election as Arkansas governor in 1980. Of course, after the Clintons entered the White House in 1993 and Hillary started her health care task force, “Rodham” popped up again. If she manages to win the White House next year, don’t be surprised to see her use her maiden name.

Debating Dems. The first major debate among the Democratic presidential candidates took place last month in South Carolina. Hillary appeared onstage with Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, Connecticut Sen. Christopher Dodd, Delaware Sen. Joe Biden, Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich and former Alaska Sen. Mike Gravel. While there were no ground-breaking moments or memorable sound bites during the 90-minute event, it was generally agreed that Hillary did a yeoman’s job, keeping her lead among all the candidates intact. In fact, many pundits believe that her performance, along with some minor stumbles by Obama, demonstrated the differences in their political experience. Hillary came across as strong on national security, even as she strongly demanded an end to the war in Iraq. When she was asked what she would do in the case of another terrorist attack, she said, “If we are attacked and we can determine who was behind that attack, and if there were nations that supported or gave material aid to those who attacked us, I believe we should quickly respond.” A few days after the South Carolina debate, Hillary agreed to participate in a June 3 presidential debate in New Hampshire, where she will again appear with Obama and the other Democratic candidates.

Flying Around. The New York Post reports that Hillary is a “fussy frequent flier who used three different planes in a single day during a recent campaign swing through South Carolina.” She even grounded one aircraft in order to demand a “swankier” replacement. A source familiar with Hillary’s travel told the Post that the change was made because “she didn’t like the configuration of the cabin.” And what was she in such a hurry to get to? A two-day fund-raising trip to California, according to flight records.

Women, Minorities Hardest Hit. In a recent profile in the Washington Post, Hillary’s key polling strategist claims Clinton could win the 2008 presidential election by appealing to women, Latinos and low-income voters. Mark J. Penn, Hillary’s most trusted poll reader, has been hawking a presentation informally called the “Penn Power Point” to donors that he says demonstrates how Hillary will win the presidency. “When you look at this thing nationally — how is she going to win — I think it’s really important to look at what were the two groups that defected from the Democrats in 2004 to give it to Bush,” Penn told the Post. “And those were women and Latino voters. And almost all the change in that election from 2000 was among those two groups, and those are her two strongest groups. And I think that’s some of the reason you see her doing so well in places like Ohio and Florida.” Penn also said that his data confirms that Hillary performs better than other Democrats among low-income voters, “especially members of a family of four making less than $75,000 a year.” 

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