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Clinton's Tame Session With the Netroots

CHICAGO -- Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) fielded a series of questions on topics ranging from domestic wiretapping to education policy from a packed room of bloggers here at the YearlyKos convention.

While Clinton has not enjoyed the friendliest relationship with the blogosphere during her political career -- a tension resulting largely from her 2002 vote for the use of force resolution against Iraq -- the crowd tended toward praise rather than protest when it came to questioning the New York senator.

Clinton used her opening remarks to disarm the crowd, telling them that she was "aware that not everybody says nice things about me" and saying that she is actually a blog reader -- although she urged the crowd "don't tell anyone."

The only moment of tension came from a man from San Francisco who asked Clinton whether she would be in favor or repealing four major pieces of legislation enacted during the Clinton administration -- the Defense of Marriage Act, the Telecommunications Act, NAFTA and the 1996 welfare reform law.

Clinton defended DOMA ("it served a very important purpose") and welfare reform ("the positives far outweigh the negatives"), passed to former Vice President Al Gore on telecommunications ("Al was very involved in designing and pushing that through") and acknowledged that NAFTA wasn't ideal ("it did not realize the benefits it was promised.")

But that was it when it came to any sort of tense back and forth. By and large Clinton drew praise and applause for her votes -- especially the one she cast against the FISA court last evening. Iraq, surprisingly, was not mentioned by any of the questioners.

Clinton also threw the crowd plenty of red meat, describing the Bush administration as engaging in a "dangerous experiment in extremism" and, when asked about Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, she joked: "It would be a breath of fresh air to have an attorney general who believed in the rule of law."

Clinton's "breakout" session with bloggers came just before she participated in a presidential candidates forum alongside Barack Obama, Chris Dodd, Joe Biden and Bill Richardson. The other candidates will host break out sessions following the forum.

Make sure to check The Fix for updates throughout the day from YearlyKos.

By Chris Cillizza  |  August 4, 2007; 2:15 PM ET
Categories:  Eye on 2008  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Barack Obama: Cultural Phenomenon
Next: Kos Presidential Forum: Highs and Lows


Chris, if you've updated this elsewhere, I missed it. If you haven't, you should know that Joe Biden didn't attend the forum. But George is absolutely right that Hil got her head handed to her. As for Biden, he blew of the convention. Can't say I blame him, though. He may have worried that the Kossacks would hand him something other than his head at the forum. Also for the record, Hillary's breakout happened at noon, before the forum. The others were all afterward. The reason? Her handlers, I suspect, must have gotten wind of the hisses that accompanied the previous day's news that Hil would not be present at her own post-forum breakout; her assistant would. The other important thing to know about the forum, other than Biden's absence, is that Mike Gravel, Dennis Kusinich and John Edwards were the other three besides Obama, Clinton and Dodd. This was a real forum, not a staged teevee debate.

Posted by: careerdoctor | August 6, 2007 8:58 PM | Report abuse

I wasn't there but people who were have emailed me that while the delegates were "polite" to Hillary she far from won them over. Right now in Iowa the Democrats who prefer change over the establishment or experience is nearly two to one. But Obama and Edwards are splitting that vote at this point. Even so, this nomination is far from a coronation regardless of what the mainstream media writes or says about it.

Posted by: Intrepid Liberal Journal | August 6, 2007 1:04 PM | Report abuse

Captain-Sky is absolutely right. FOX News' sources say that Obama had a REAL professor of law imprisoned in his basement to produce courses and lectures for him.

Contrary to earlier reports, this is NOT the same guy Obama used to torture to pass his law- and international relations studies for him.

Posted by: roo | August 5, 2007 1:11 AM | Report abuse

Tame session with netroots: Why?
(1)In her break-out session her minions were present but less noticeable given a fair crowd in attendance since there were no competing break-outs to attend. And, (2) Could it be that most bloggers are more comfortable talking to a computer than to a person when what they have to say is in front of a live crowd of three hundred. (Now don't get all defensive, I just know that I would feel a lot less comfortable in front of a crowd of the size.)

Posted by: pservelle | August 5, 2007 12:18 AM | Report abuse

I See Most Of You People Are Going To Follow Obama Straight To The Grave No Matter How Many Times He Opens His Mouth About Issues He Has No Clue About.Guess What His Strateigist Can't Get On Stage And Speak For Him.It's Just A Matter Of Time Before He's All In.

Posted by: Captain-Sky | August 4, 2007 11:53 PM | Report abuse

Lylepink, visit a few of the right wing blogs like Boortz, Hewitt, the corner, Redstate if you want to see how out of touch with reality your party really is. I hope the GOP adopts a lot of things these folks are proposing. In the meantime the Republicans are on the wrong side of just about every big issue of the day. Go ahead knock yourself out, block health insurance for poor kids, there's millions of votes in it.

Posted by: Otto | August 4, 2007 7:03 PM | Report abuse

This Kos group is about as far left as any. There is no way anyone leaning to the left like these folks will ever win The White House. The problem I have with them is that the repubs will actually support their favorites because they would be the easiest to beat in the General.

Posted by: lylepink | August 4, 2007 6:13 PM | Report abuse

Er, Clinton's vote "against the FISA court"? You mean, her vote against letting the attorney general instead of the FISA court decide whether wiretaps are legal?

Posted by: Jade | August 4, 2007 5:13 PM | Report abuse

Of course Cris would not make the fact that she got Boo a head line they have to try and convince everyone that evryone loves her. Here is another Blog of the event from politico:

John Edwards took the initiative with a call on his rivals to join him in rejecting contributions, and Bai focused the question on Hillary Clinton, who engaged:

"I don't think based on my 35 years fighting for what I believe in, I don't think anybody seriously believes I'm going to be influenced by a lobbyist," she said, to boos, before trying to head off in a different direction, thanking the bloggers for their work.

"It's going to take a grass-roots movement - that's why I'm here today," she said, a bit unconvinced.

"A lot of those lobbyists, whether you like it or not, represent real Americans," she tried again, adopting the difficult stance of defending lobbyists. "They represent nurses, they represent social workers, yes, they represent corporations that employ a lot of people. The idea that somehow a contribution is going to influence you - I just ask you to look at my record."

Obama received the loudest, standingest ovation of the day for his response: "They are not spending that just because they are contributing to the public interest," he said of the health care lobby.

Posted by: Lyn | August 4, 2007 4:47 PM | Report abuse

I do not believe that there were any other breakout sessions with candidates at the same time as Hillary. Another "clever strategy" to inflate her numbers.

Posted by: George | August 4, 2007 4:17 PM | Report abuse

She got her head handed to her in the debate on the issue of taking corporate lobby money. Edwards pointed out that neither he nor Obama take corporate money. Hillary eventually tried to swing back with a fairly lame defense along the lines of "corporations are people too..."

What nobody mentioned is the $41 million that Bill Clinton has earned in "speaking fees" before PACs and corporations while Hillary has been in Congress. He was paid directly $150,000 by the "National multi-family housing concil", a lobby group. It adds up, overall he has been paid $1.2 million by the real estate industry, $1.6 million by healthcare, and $4.2 million by investment bankers.

Hillary says that it is silly to think that she was influnced by lobby cash, just "look at her record". She cosponsored bills for tariff eliminations (S.3645.IS/109th) that were favorable to Chinese companies like CLSA -- which paid Bill Clinton $700,000 for a series of speeches.

This is a big weakness for her, and one that the Republicans will exploit if the other Democratic candidates do not.

Posted by: George | August 4, 2007 4:15 PM | Report abuse

I agree, btw, with the commenter who said she has a steller netroots liaison in Peter Daou -- I'm sure he was instrumental in Hillary both being there in the first place, and then changing her schedule to make room for the breakout.

Posted by: cms | August 4, 2007 4:00 PM | Report abuse

yes but considering how hard the Kos site is to her, if she had 350 activists show up to hear herspeak, she did great, she polls about 4% on the monthly junk polls Edwards always wins and Barack comes in second I will be surprised if she breaks into double digits at Kos, but come the General election if she is the nominee Daily Kos bloggers will be working to get her elected our mission is to get Democratic leaning candidates into office, even Bernie Sanders is well respected on Daily Kos, work to make this nation better in the name of Democracy and the citizens and the support will be there.

Posted by: mikey30919 | August 4, 2007 4:00 PM | Report abuse

That was her crowd - those people picked seeing her over the other candidates (thus, only 350 attended instead of Obama and Edwards maxing out at 500). That's not the same as the larger group.

Posted by: cms | August 4, 2007 3:46 PM | Report abuse

is anyone else picking up on this but me?

hillary clinton tells the crowd that she reads blogs, and then she adds jokingly "don't tell anyone."

what the hell? what is that supposed to mean? what is the joke here? the only sense i can make of it is that she gives herself far more credit for being clever and important and interesting than anyone else does. only in another universe very different from this one would anyone care whether hillary clinton reads blogs.

how can one trust someone who has spent fifteen years thinking about every word she utters? her statements are comprehension proof. if she becomes president and seems to be breaking a promise, she will be able to turn to our shouts of betrayal with a straight face and say, "i never promised that; i promised something else."

how can one trust a candidate who critises her opponent for half-heartedly ruling out dropping nukes on the territory of an ally?

i'm saying all this as someone who rather likes mrs. clinton as a person. the problem is that she speaks like a human teleprompter. she doesn't arrive at her conclusions like the rest of us. her beliefs are whatever Hillary Clinton the political brand requires to achieve power. most of us don't have to worry about whether our opinions will get us power or not. we are therefore free to follow our thoughts to where we think the truth lies.

but for mrs. clinton, the situation is different. she doesn't have to strain her moral faculties deciding right from wrong. no, for her, the only intellectual challenge is how to phrase her positions so that they mimic a human being's without the benefit of a focus group.

Posted by: anticlimacus | August 4, 2007 3:09 PM | Report abuse

President Bush invited representatives of major industrialized and developing countries to a climate change summit in September to discuss how to set a long-term strategy for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Posted by: bad news for zouk | August 4, 2007 2:51 PM | Report abuse

Hil is smart. She also has a very very bright and capable netroots advisor in Peter Daou, CC. You might want to talk to him while you're there -- he started The Daou Report on Salon, which posts a daily side to side example of blogs from the right and left. He's as knowledgeable as anyone out there on the subject.

Posted by: drindl | August 4, 2007 2:40 PM | Report abuse

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