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Stumping for Wife, Clinton Pushes Back Against the Press

By Shailagh Murray
CLAREMONT, N.H. -- About that inhaling business? President Clinton said the media had it all wrong.

It was the third "last question" of the session. A local man lauded the former president and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton for their White House service. Then he got to the point: "Did you or did you not inhale?"

"Actually I didn't," Clinton exclaimed, eyebrows arched, recalling his famous response during the '92 campaign about marijuana use during his student days. "The press just twisted it," he continued. "I thought it was funny that I didn't inhale. It was something that I could not do." He depicted his original retort as "a joke" that a humorless press corps did not get.

Clinton won this scrappy corner of New Hampshire convincingly 16 years ago. But today, his popularity seemed a bit more tenuous. He showed up 90 minutes late and was greeted by a crowd of about 200 people who filled about half the available seats. A baby wailed during the first 10 minutes of his remarks, and local television crews packed up early, unable to shift their schedules to Clinton time. The former president was in a serious mood. "You can pick the president you want," he told the crowd. "But you can't be unaware that you are making a real choice here," he said.

He described a political landscape that to him made little sense. Clinton singled out the poor showings in Iowa of Sens. Christopher Dodd and Joseph Biden, veteran lawmakers with long resumes, who had worked closely with him in the White House. "That's what they were told by the voters -- I'm just not interested in this. We just want something that sounds good and looks good, and we don't think achievement is important."

Yet the most striking moment came at the end. Clinton wrapped up his remarks and had started to shake hands on the rope line, when he took back the microphone and told the crowd it could be too late to save New Hampshire for his wife. He reprimanded the state for scheduling its primary just five days after Iowa, leaving little time for Hillary Clinton to recover from her third-place finish.

"We are just now getting down to the real differences between these candidates," said Clinton. "The momentum is broken when people get to think for themselves."

By Web Politics Editor  |  January 7, 2008; 5:50 PM ET
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Next: Racing Through the Slush to Primary Day


Woe betide Hillary if the whooping she'll receive in SC will be by a very large margin. Superdelegates are mainly delegates representing the party (Dem Party Officials) and Dem members of Congress who it must be said, DO NOT want to LOSE the election. The WANT TO REGAIN THE WHITEHOUSE AT ALL COSTS. Will most Superdelegates be looking to choose their best shot at the White House? You bet. In spite of Hillary's NH close victory, does she stand a chance of being the Democratic Party's best shot at the White House? NO Way. Not with her high negatives. Unless Hillary gives Obama a real whipping by large margins, more than the whipping she received in Iowa, I don't see a majority of the Superdelegates going in her favor. In fact, if she keeps winning by close margins, the likelyhood for both of them to have the same number of delegates from such close states is possible. And if she keeps winning by close margins, considering that her inevitability would have evaporated since it will be expected that she beat Obama real good. If she doesn't, coupled with the fact that Obama is considered as beginning a new era in American politics, the History in the making, I don't see the majority of senior party delegates/officials pressing in her favor.

Ok, while polls mispredicted NH (for easily explanable reasons - being that the last polls showing Obama leading were conducted at the same time that Hillary almost cried, and no polling was done after that incident), Monday's Rasmussen polls in SC show at least a 20 point lead in favor of Obama: 50 for Obama and 20 for Clinton. The NH polls didn't have such a large marginal difference, and wow, one would be damned, on the basis of this poll, if Clinton still beat Obama in SC. I don't think it likely.

While it is too early to state this, per now, it is appearing more and more like a 2-person race. Does anyone know of any other State where Edwards might be having a shot? i don't. He's probably counting on NC and SC that he won in 2004. Well, SC is outta the question for him now. So is NC his home state where he lost in 2004 even in his county. In spite of his rhetoric that he'll be in through the primaries, it is my guess that if he doesn't shine, in the days before the August Convention (or after Super Tuesday) he'll call it off and will most likely endorse Obama (in a hope that Obama pick him for Veepee). The effect of this is significant as it will tip the scale and give Obama more delegates (inclusive of Edwards'). I don't know of any other of the former/present candidates who might endorse Hillary. May be Gov. Richardson? Even he too might prefer to endorse a candidate with a better chance or simply the candidate who is leading.

Posted by: ftroit | January 9, 2008 3:12 PM | Report abuse

Senator Barack Obama won the Iowa Caucuses by CHEATING IOWANS. New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson placed fourth. But did they really earn their finishing positions? The answer may be surprising. In the now past ABC New Hampshire debate before the January 8th first-in-the-nation primary, the rules were that only the candidates who finish in the top four slots in Iowa could participate, meaning that second-tier candidates who placed fourth could live on to continue their campaign another day. In the last hours before the Iowa caucuses Obama, who wanted to pad his victory and hedge his bets, approached Joe Biden with this, proposal: In precincts where Biden had a local official loyal to him, and if Biden wasn't viable, then Senator Biden would tell his organizers to move his supporters over to Obama en mass. Conversely, in precincts where Obama had more than enough supporters, he would lend people to Biden to ensure Biden a fourth place finish so that he could,continue Joe Biden actually considered the proposal. An anonymous source close to Biden told the Washington Post that the strategy could be "viability for victory."When the media found out, Obama's camp admitted that the conversation took place. Biden, who when asked about the proposal at a campaign event said that the deal could "probably" help both campaigns; however he later rejected the deal on "moral grounds," a source in Biden's Iowa organization told the Rev. Rob Times on condition of anonymity. History recorded that Joe Biden placed fifth in Iowa, and subsequently dropped out of the race. On January 4, the day after the caucus, the New York Times reported strong rumors that Obama made the same deal to Bill Richardson that he previously offered to Biden, only this time the deal was accepted.The Times article describes not only the rumors, but gives an eye-witness account and confession of an Obama official telling Richardson supporters that a pact had indeed been made between the two candidates. "That's what the leadership has said," admitted Deb Copeland, an Obama volunteer as reported by the New York Times. "What we're concerned about is we heard of a few people going to Hillary. And we want to keep you together," she told the Richardson supporters at the 64th precinct. Volunteers for the Biden campaign told the Rev. Rob Times that Obama organizers used the same speech about a "pact" to lure supporters in at least two precincts where Biden was only a few supporters shy of viability.Representatives from both the Obama and Richardson campaigns deny that such a deal was ever struck, yet first hand testimonies clearly paint a far different picture. The Effect in the end, the effect of backdoor wheeling and dealing between campaigns is that Richardson's fourth place finish could be artificial, and Obama's victory margin is larger than it would have been in a democratic system. Our democracy is based, in part, on the concept of "one man, one vote," and a vote by a secret ballot, free from the judging eyes of neighbors and the media, free from bribery, and free from the influence of political activists. Had the Iowa contest been based on a ballot, and had caucus voters cast a single vote for the candidate of their choice as is the most fair method of picking a president, then Obama may have come in second and Richardson in fifth. If Obama's victory margin had been smaller, or if he placed second, then the dynamic of the race would have changed drastically. Edwards, Clinton, and even Biden may have all come out of Iowa in stronger positions than any of them have.In part, the system is to blame, but those who took advantage of it and exploited it for their own purposes, namely Barack Obama and Bill Richardson, are not without culpability and their misdeeds should be remembered in the minds of voters.

Posted by: dyck21005 | January 8, 2008 8:27 AM | Report abuse

The media has forgotten their job! they are responsibile to inform voters of the differences between candidates, not to endorse or support just ONE! as they have with obamaboy!

**CNN last night Lou Dodds said they polled the young voters supporting obama (which is how he is winning the recent caucuses) NOT ONE COULD SAY WHERE HE STOOD ON ANY ISSUE?? With the country at odds with so many foreign countries, it is horrifying to think of Barrack " Hussein" Obama ( Muslim) running our country. You think we are in trouble with bush/Chaney!

Posted by: dyck21005 | January 8, 2008 8:27 AM | Report abuse

JakeD, the more I here from you, the more bigoted you sound.

I wasn't referring to 1992. I was referring to Obama's electoral successes thus far.

What 1992 does illustrate for me is the hypocrisy of Bill Clinton's criticism of Obama for being inexperienced in foreign policy when he ran as the governor of a state with a population less than that of the city of chicago and zero foreign policy experience to his name, winning against a former CIA-director, diplomat, war-hero, and vice-president to reagan. Does Bill Clinton somehow consider that victory invalid?

Congrats on your ability to cite wikipedia. hows that working out for you?

Posted by: maq1 | January 7, 2008 9:13 PM | Report abuse

I agree with former President Bill Clinton regarding the media's treatment of Sen. Hillary Clinton. Beyond that, the press has yet to examine the record, background of the leading Democratic candidates except for Sen. Clinton.

Giving Obama a free ride is doing a disservice to the country. It really is about Obama's message. He can't point to a record of accomplishment so he talks about bringing people together and giving people hope. Massachusetts Democrats including myself, bought this exact message from Deval Patrick who ran on a platform of hope and unity. Governor Patrick has been a disaster. He is seldom in Massachusetts. He spends a lot of time campaigning for Obama and telling people in Iowa and New Hampshire how he was so successful in being elected. He promised to bring people together but he is currently fighting with the Speaker of the House, about three casinos he wants to put in Massachusetts which the Speaker opposes. The idea of three casinos is ludicrous. Governor Patrick's lack of experience really shows. He is constantly replacing staff and there is no real agenda that has been put before the people of Massachusetts. He is virtually invisible.

Experience does count. The press needs to do its job and give all of the candidates the same scrutiny they have given Senator Clinton.

Posted by: threestonepictures | January 7, 2008 8:41 PM | Report abuse

"We are just now getting down to the real differences between these candidates," said Clinton. "The momentum is broken when people get to think for themselves."

Uh, okay... Bill Clinton just told us we are not supposed to think for ourselves and choose our own president... especially one that is NOT his wife. I see....

Posted by: jade_7243 | January 7, 2008 8:09 PM | Report abuse

Barack HUSSEIN Obama will not be sworn in as President on January 20, 2009.

Posted by: JakeD | January 7, 2008 7:48 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Clinton and his wife have failed to understand the deep-seated revulsion in 2007-2008 across the entire spectrum of voters - Dems/Independents and even lots of Republicans - with the policies of President Bush and a Congress incapable of directing the country back to a better time and a higher road.

Experience is what got us here...and we are disgusted and fed up with all the Washington doublespeak and bad behavior. Bad experience is just that...and we've had it over and over again.

The people of this country are ready for someone who can change that and in the process return this country to a justified position as an ethical and moral leader of the world. It's not all about money or profit or experience.

One of the keys to effecting massive change is to act where there is great dissatisfaction with the status quo. This country is at that point.

Obama is the man for the moment..

Posted by: gandalfthegrey | January 7, 2008 7:30 PM | Report abuse

LOL! OK, so maybe Bill actually did not Inhale!

But, I would be willing to bet, he wishes Monica would have Swal...

Posted by: rat-the | January 7, 2008 7:05 PM | Report abuse

In fact, maq1, the 1992 election was thought to be nearly unwinnable by many Democrats. At the time, President Bush was extremely popular after the successful Gulf War, and the nation's poor economy did not seem to hurt his record popularity. Thus, many of the most noted Democrats, such as New York Governor Mario Cuomo and House Majority leader Dick Gephardt, stayed out of the election.

As you may or may not know, during the summer of 1991, Bill Clinton had been polling strongly, but a collection of sex scandals exploded and during the winter he plummeted to single digit support. Thus, Tom Harkin had an easy victory in his home state of Iowa, a contest that was largely uncontested by the other candidates, but Harkin fared poorly elsewhere. Paul Tsongas emerged as the early front runner and won the New Hampshire Primary. After finishing a surprisingly strong second in New Hampshire, however, Bill Clinton was proclaimed to be the "Comeback Kid" and gained a great deal of momentum.

Meanwhile, Tsongas, having started as a longshot candidate, won several primaries (Maryland, Arizona, Washington, and Utah), but found that there was insufficient time to accumulate funds after his surprise New Hampshire win (this was before Internet fundraising existed as a possibility), and withdrew before certain large-state primaries (most notably, New York and Illinois). Jerry Brown, who had done poorly in the early primaries, was about to lose his matching funds until he unexpectedly emerged victorious in Colorado.

Clinton then won a major victory in Illinois and began to sweep the rest of the country. As part of a minor backlash, Jerry Brown won in Connecticut. There was a show-down brewing in New York between the two rivals, when a group of people decided to force Tsongas, who was still on the ballot there, back in the race. This was surprisingly successful, and Tsongas came in a close second to Bill Clinton, effectively ending Brown's challenge. The rest of the primary campaign unfolded uneventfully, Bill Clinton secured the nomination, and the rest is history.

If you'd actually like to review, you know, history serving as an indication:

Posted by: JakeD | January 7, 2008 7:03 PM | Report abuse

It's time to pick a president. Just remember: you can pick your president and pick your nose; but, you can't pick your president's nose.

The Obama campaign should place Bill Clinton on the payroll.

Posted by: jeff.cronin | January 7, 2008 6:56 PM | Report abuse


Which "history is any indication" are you referring to?! You mean, like the last time an African-American was nominated by a major U.S. political party? You are aware of BILL Clinton being called the "Comeback Kid" after he LOST the early contests to Harkin, Tsongas, and Jerry Brown, right? The more I learn about Obama, the more convinced I am that he is the WORST option to lead our country.

Posted by: JakeD | January 7, 2008 6:19 PM | Report abuse

I'm pleased Senator Obama is surging. If history is any indication, this 'surge' will last. The more voters learn about Obama, the more convinced they are that he is not only brilliant, capable, and honest, he has exactly the kind of experience necessary to help our country shed old baggage and win new results.

I take no pleasure in seeing Senator Clinton falter, but I do believe there is more disappointment for her ahead. I respect her a great deal, and I hope she finds a way to bow out gracefully and in a manner that preserves her ability to get things done in the Senate. She is a capable politician, but Senator Obama is leader. It will only become more apparent with time that he is the best option to lead our country.

Posted by: maq1 | January 7, 2008 6:09 PM | Report abuse

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