Democratic insiders blame Sen. Hillary Clinton’s micromanaging for her presidential campaign’s acceptance of nearly $900,000 in contributions donated or raised by Norman Hsu, convicted for fraud and a former fugitive.
The Clinton campaign has insinuated that her financial aides dropped the ball in failing to vet Hsu before taking his money. But the senator is obsessive in running her own campaign, taking responsibility for details.
Hsu for many years has been well known in New York Democratic circles, appearing at events with $5,000 to $20,000 in contributions. Recipients were ignorant of his criminal background. Nevertheless, considering Clinton administration scandals about dirty money from Asian businessmen, Democrats are amazed that Sen. Clinton did not thoroughly investigate Hsu before accepting funds.
MAKING HILLARY WAIT
Sen. Hillary Clinton waited for five hours, behind three other Democratic presidential candidates, to hear testimony Tuesday from Gen. David Petraeus and Amb. Ryan Crocker because of a calculated political decision by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
Sen. Joseph Biden, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, refused the joint hearings with the Armed Services Committee held by their House counterparts. Reid ordered that Foreign Relations would go first because its Republican members were not nearly as strong for President Bush on Iraq as GOP members of Armed Services, headed by Sen. John McCain. Of the top two Republicans on Foreign Relations, Sen. Richard Lugar has distanced himself from Bush policy and Sen. Chuck Hagel opposes it.
Clinton, as an Armed Services member, had to wait until late afternoon. Her principal rival for the Democratic nomination, Sen. Barack Obama, is a Foreign Relations member, as are presidential hopefuls Biden and Sen. Christopher Dodd.
Before Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska announced his Senate retirement, former Sen. Bob Kerrey — president of The New School in New York City — confided his intentions to a political friend.
If maverick Republican Hagel sought a third Senate term, maverick Democrat Kerrey would support him — whether Hagel switched to the Democrats or stayed in the GOP. If Hagel did not run, Kerrey would return to Nebraska to run for the Senate.
Kerrey, undefeated in campaigns for governor and the Senate, is one of the most popular Democrats in Nebraska’s history. Although he has been in New York seven years, he would be heavily favored in 2008. Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns, who resigned as governor to join President Bush’s Cabinet, might be the only Republican capable of defeating Kerrey.
Homeland security consultant Jeff Beatty, new to Republican politics, arrived in Washington this week with a Zogby poll showing him in a virtual tie with Democratic Sen. John Kerry in Massachusetts.
Republicans had not listed the 2004 Democratic presidential candidate as even faintly vulnerable for re-election in 2008. The Zogby poll gives Kerry 48 percent to Beatty’s 45 percent — a tie with a 4.1 percent margin of error.
That signifies Beatty’s strength rather than Kerry’s weakness, with Zogby showing Kerry far ahead of other possible Republican candidates. Kerry leads Andrew Card, President Bush’s former chief of staff, 61 percent to 29 percent. Beatty — a veteran of the FBI, the CIA and the Army’s Delta Force — frequently appears on television commenting on security questions.
SHRUM IN BLIGHTY
Campaign consultant Bob Shrum, who retired from U.S. politics after publication this summer of his candid memoir (“No Excuses: Concessions of a Serial Campaigner”), is now in Britain working for the Labor Party in the campaign of Prime Minister Gordon Brown.
Shrum was the strategist in the last two Democratic presidential campaigns for losing candidates Al Gore and John Kerry. But he has worked on the last three winning Labor efforts in Britain. Shrum has been a close friend of Brown for many years.
Shrum last month left his position on the New York University faculty. He is now an NYU fellow in London.