Saturday, November 27, 2004

STLtoday - Bush has tough political choice after bill stalls in Congress

STLtoday - News - NewsWatch: "Bush has tough political choice after bill stalls in Congress
By Philip Dine
Post-Dispatch Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON - The battle over intelligence reform is one President George W. Bush neither sought nor rushed to join. But now that he has become enmeshed in it, the fight threatens to overshadow the president's own priorities for a second term.

With last week's failure of the Senate-House conference committee to reach agreement on an intelligence bill, Bush faces a delicate choice between two potentially risky actions:

He can continue to call for change in the nation's intelligence apparatus but wait for those changes until the new Congress convenes in January. This is the easier course politically, but it means the president's ambitious agenda might be delayed while the battle over intelligence reform continues to loom - and possibly that no intelligence reform will occur at all.

He can aggressively take on the handful of House Republicans blocking a deal, in hope of achieving a quick solution when the current Congress meets briefly starting Dec. 6. That would clear the slate for other legislation he wants taken up, such as changes in Social Security. But it also could antagonize powerful congressional chairmen whose support he'll need later. And, because success on intelligence is far from guaranteed, he could end up squandering his new political capital in a losing cause.

"If it doesn't get done now, you've got to start over in January, and he has a huge agenda of his own that he wants to get enacted," said Stephen Hess, a political analyst at the Brookings Institution who started as an aide to President Dwight Eisenhower in the 1950s.

"And he knows from the history of the presidency that in a two-term presidency, the sand starts to run out of the hourglass, and that fifth year is very important," Hess said. "He's got a lot of his own programs on which he wants to build his legacy, and he needs to get off to a very fast start in January. To that extent, he's better off getting this done now, if he can."

But pushing the measure through now might require Bush to do something for which he's shown little propensity - wage an all-out lobbying effort aimed at members of his own party.

Bush's dilemma reflects how the effort to reorganize the nation's intelligence agencies is turning into an epic struggle on several levels.

There is, first, the issue of national security - how best to reorganize the intelligence community to protect Americans in an age of deadly terrorism.

Then there are the turf battles being fought among executive branch departments and within Congress by the various oversight committees, for control of personnel and purse strings.

Finally, political conflicts are arising on a number of fronts - within the House, between the Senate and House and, most recently, between Bush and key House members.

The push to improve U.S. intelligence gathering began with the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and picked up steam with the 9/11 Commission's report calling for a national director of intelligence and a national counterterrorism center to improve data analysis and sharing among the 15 spy agencies. The fiasco over Iraq's purported weapons of mass destruction added urgency.

As a result, Congress moved with unusual speed. The Senate passed a bipartisan bill based on the 9/11 Commission proposals, but House Republicans resisted some key recommendations. Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, opposes reducing Pentagon control over tactical intelligence, and Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, wants tough immigration measures.

Though the president says he generally favored the Senate version, the House GOP chairmen refuse to yield and the measure has stalled.

Yet the need for change is as strong as ever, says Wendy Sherman, former State Department counselor and now a principal at the Albright Group, a global consulting firm headed by former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.

"Reforming the intelligence apparatus of the United States of America is absolutely critical. We can see that playing out over the serious situation in Iran, where the U.S. government says there are indications from intelligence of a covert nuclear program, and no one's sure whether they can believe us or not," Sherman said.

"The credibility of the United States is at stake, and intelligence reform ought to be at the top of the agenda."

Intraparty squabbles
Last week, Gen. Richard Meyers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, reiterated his opposition to an intelligence czar who would control tactical intelligence now under Pentagon control. And Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld was forced to deny reports that he has quietly lobbied against changes urged by the president.

This is an unusual situation for an administration that prizes loyalty.

"It's a really interesting set of issues," said Norm Ornstein, veteran political analyst with the American Enterprise Institute. "Part of it is a bill in which the president really didn't have much interest for a long time, never particularly wanted it. But he ended up getting invested in it at the end - partly out of a political calculus that it was going to pass and he wanted to be on board to declare victory.

"Then he became embroiled in a controversy he never expected or wanted," Ornstein said.

Bush has become increasingly earnest about getting a bill passed, Hess said, but doing so may require "making sure as much as possible that no one loses." That would mean allowing Sensenbrenner to emerge with some kind of victory, perhaps a promise that his immigration restrictions will be taken up soon on their own, and assurances to Hunter that any changes won't interfere with tactical intelligence to the war fighters, Hess said.

But Daniel Benjamin, a former National Security Council official now with the Center for Strategic and International Studies, questions how much pressure Bush will exert behind the scenes.

"It's a legitimate question whether the White House really wants this," Benjamin said. "That question has been begged by the fact that this president, who has all this political capital, who just won an election, just got stiffed by his own party on the Hill."

While dealing with the measure after the election allows for more sober reflection, it also removes much of the political impetus, Benjamin contends.

But that's a good tradeoff, counters Danielle Pletka, vice president for foreign policy and defense at the American Enterprise Institute and a former top staff member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

"The bottom line is this affords the Congress the chance to take a deep breath," Pletka said. "A lot of the deliberations about this bill took place in the campaign environment and were about point-scoring, not about achieving a better intelligence apparatus."

Starting over
Sen. Christopher "Kit" Bond, R-Mo., of the Senate Intelligence Committee, prefers starting afresh on intelligence reform with a new Congress. Bond contends that Hunter and Sensenbrenner have raised good questions.

All 535 members of Congress, and particularly the intelligence panels, should be involved in resolving the issues, not just the two dozen members of the Senate-House conference panel now engaged, Bond said. He noted that the Senate Intelligence Committee has been reconfigured.

"This is a good time to step back and do it right," Bond said, adding that he's expressed that view to Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn.

But a Senate Intelligence Committee colleague, Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., says a "breakdown in leadership in the White House and the House Republican caucus" has ruined the best chance of improving the U.S. intelligence apparatus.

Durbin says a combination of powerful GOP committee chairmen and Pentagon officials - including Meyers and Rumsfeld - has stymied the will of the White House and even of the House GOP leadership.

"They put the president in an impossible situation," Durbin said. "He either has to defy Republican leaders in Congress, like Sensenbrenner and Hunter, or he runs the risk of no intelligence reform.

"The stars were lined up for this in a way they may never be again," Durbin said, citing the tragedy of 9/11, the push by victims' families for reform, the commission's report and the rapid response by Congress. "I don't know if the stars will ever line up again, and that's why this may be a missed opportunity."

Reporter Philip Dine of the Post-Dispatch's Washington bureau covers national security, defense and labor.

Reporter Philip Dine
Phone: 202-298-6880"

Saturday, November 20, 2004 - Hollywood activists stage anti-Bush bash - Dec. 3, 2003 Malcolm and Ickes - Hollywood activists stage anti-Bush bash - Dec. 3, 2003: "Hollywood activists stage anti-Bush bash
Wednesday, December 3, 2003 Posted: 1:53 AM EST (0653 GMT)

LOS ANGELES, California (CNN) -- Dedicated to defeating President Bush in 2004, two newly formed political action committees made up of actors and Hollywood activists huddled Tuesday night in Beverly Hills to outline their goals and to dispute conservative media characterizations of their motives.

America Coming together (ACT) and The Media Fund are "determined to bring people back into the political process" and, according to ACT President Ellen Malcolm, address the "extremism of the Republican policies ... and the impact of those policies on voters and their families."

Working with Malcolm in ACT are former AFL-CIO political director Steve Rosenthal, Service Employees Union President Andy Stern and the Sierra Club's executive director, Carl Pope.

Malcolm is also the president of EMILY's List, a lobbying group for pro-choice Democratic women.

The Media Fund is headed by Harold Ickes, a key White House political strategist for Bill Clinton who helped his wife, Hillary, get elected to the Senate.

At a Tuesday night news conference at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, Malcolm said the work of the two groups will cost about $190 million, noting $40 million has been raised so far.

Some 300 invitations were sent out for the event, which thanks to some unexpected publicity, grew beyond expectations, organizers said. According to Malcolm, the event had to be moved to a larger room at the hotel, and several people wanting to attend had to be turned away.

On several occasions during a 20-minute news conference, group leaders said characterizations in the media that their groups are "Bush Haters" have been irresponsible.

Malcolm said one such report appeared on the Drudge Report Web site -- a conservative media portal. She called the report an example of the kind of misleading information that has been published about their group and was a "misrepresentation" of the facts.

Laurie David -- wife of "Seinfeld" creator Larry David and co-chair of the event -- thanked Matt Drudge for his report, saying it helped turn "a small gathering of political activists into a very large gathering of political activists."

Joining David as co-hosts at the event that was called a "Mandatory Meeting to Change the Leadership in America" were such backstage money-and-influence forces as Marge Tabenkin, political adviser to singer Barbra Streisand; Ari Emanuel, brother of Rep. Rahm Emanuel; screenwriter Naomi Foner; movie producer Robert Greenwald; and actress Michelle Lee." | News: JoDee Winterhoff - 2 unions' endorsements add to Dean's momentum | News: "2 unions' endorsements add to Dean's momentum
Register Staff Writer
Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean is expected today to solidify his front-runner status for the 2004 Democratic presidential nomination while again displaying his agility in exploiting the 21st-century political landscape.

The two largest labor unions in the country - the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, and the Service Employees International Union - are set to pledge their support to Dean over Rep. Dick Gephardt of Missouri. Union support is considered crucial to Gephardt, who has long-standing ties to organized labor and has aggressively courted the key Democratic constituency.

By picking up the endorsements today, Dean shows the ability to attract support from among the few growing sectors of the labor movement: government, health care and education workers.

"That's very, very big," said political columnist Charlie Cook, who publishes the Washington, D.C.-based Cook Political Report. "Dean is appealing to the one sector that's growing and has determined that's where the future is. He's demonstrated a knack for that."

The endorsements follow Dean's adroit use of the Internet, which propelled him to the lead among his rivals in fund raising and sets him apart in terms of appealing to new or growing segments of the Democratic electorate.

The announcement today also comes as Dean has been subjected to two months of withering attacks from his rivals and on the heels of his decision Saturday to outspend his opponents for the nomination. Combined with his record-breaking fund raising, Cook and others say, the endorsements position Dean as the Democrat to beat.

Officials with AFSCME, the largest union in Iowa, and the service workers union, a growing and politically influential group, declined to comment on the endorsements, although they and Dean's campaign staff planned a joint announcement in Washington, D.C.

The two unions have a combined national membership of 3 million. AFSCME, the nation's largest public employees union, has roughly 1.4 million members nationwide and 30,000 in Iowa. SEIU, which represents health-care and education workers, is the nation's largest union with 1.6 million members, with roughly 4,000 in Iowa.

The announcement is seen as a boost to Dean's campaign for the leadoff Iowa caucuses, where he and Gephardt are battling for the lead and where unions' ability to help organize and deliver supporters on caucus night, Jan. 19, is a significant asset.

"The challenge will be to get the organizers out in these counties to organize their members and get them to turn out on caucus night," said JoDee Winterhoff, a longtime Iowa Democratic organizer with close ties to organized labor. "It's a leg up for Dean, but it's not a gigantic advantage."

The endorsements would be among three international unions to back Dean, including the painters' union, compared with 20 unions that have thrown their support to Gephardt. But the decisions of AFSCME and SEIU could go a long way toward blocking Gephardt from receiving the coveted endorsement of the nation's largest labor umbrella organization, the 13 million-member AFL-CIO.

Gephardt campaign manager Steve Murphy played down the significance of Dean's achievement, saying Gephardt's labor backing, which includes political heavyweights such as the Teamsters and Machinists, is larger and broader.

"We never thought we would get the support of either AFSCME or SEIU. But Dick Gephardt has a wide range of labor unions, representing the industrial sector, representing building trades, representing transportation," Murphy said Tuesday. "I'll stack our union support up against Howard Dean's any day and we'll win with it."

Gephardt, who opposed the North American Free Trade Agreement in 1993, has blamed the trade pact for sending manufacturing jobs overseas. Dean, who supported NAFTA as a governor, faces little hostility for the position from service sector employees who have less to fear than the manufacturing sector.

SEIU's most recent national accomplishment was to organize professionals and staff at University Hospitals and Clinics in Iowa City. Combined with AFSCME's size and statewide presence, it could be of help to Dean in his campaign for the caucuses, said Winterhoff, a former chief of staff to Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin who ran the Iowa Democratic Party's coordinated campaign in 1996.

After months as a small-state governor best-known for his opposition to the war in Iraq, Dean burst into the top tier of the 2004 Democratic presidential field in July when he topped his rivals in second-quarter fund raising. He set the quarterly fund-raising record for a Democrat in the third quarter, raising almost $15 million, due largely to a flood of contributions over the Internet.

Since then his rivals, mainly Gephardt and Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry, have spent weeks attacking Dean's 11 years as governor.

Dean announced Saturday he would opt to finance his campaign solely with private contributions, betting he could raise more than the roughly $19 million he would receive if he chose to abide by spending caps.

The endorsements come at a critical time when the sense of electability is beginning to coalesce around Dean, said campaign manager Joe Trippi.

"It's a sign of how we're beginning to answer in a credible way: Who can beat George Bush?" Trippi said. "What you're seeing is AFSCME and SEIU looking at the whole group of candidates and coming to the conclusion it's not just whether the candidate is good for working families, but also whether they can win."

National political columnist Stu Rothenberg, editor of the Rothenberg Political Report, agrees the endorsements show Dean has convinced a large, educated sector of the Democratic base that he is more than a single-issue candidate.

"I think the endorsements are a significant and important credential for Dean," he said. "It adds a sense of - inevitability may be a bit too strong - but a sense of Dean's momentum."

Reporter Thomas Beaumont can be reached at (515) 284-2532 or

Howard Dean, campaigning in eastern Iowa on Tuesday, blamed President Bush for allowing contracts in postwar Iraq to be granted to corporations with ties to his Republican backers, including energy company Halliburton and construction giant Bechtel.

"Again, every penny that is misspent is keeping our troops in Iraq longer. It is a disservice to them and the American taxpayer," Dean said in a speech in Iowa City at the University of Iowa. "This entire process is endemic not only with Iraq but every policy of this administration."

Howard Dean and Rep. Dick Gephardt of Missouri appeal to different sectors of organized labor in their quests for the 2004 Democratic presidential nomination. Here's a quick look at some areas of their labor and trade positions:

Gephardt voted against the North American Free Trade Agreement in 1993 while Dean supported the trade pact as a governor. Dean said it was good for Vermont, but has said since that he would not sign a trade agreement that did not have higher labor and environmental standards. Both support reopening the agreement to change its labor and environmental standards.

Both candidates oppose the Free Trade Area of the Americas, which would expand NAFTA to include countries in Central and South America. Both candidates support raising the minimum wage. Gephardt has proposed an international minimum wage."

Shariatmadari: Allocating subsidies will end up fixed prices

IranMania News: " "Allocating subsidies will end up fixed prices"

Saturday, November 20, 2004 - ©2004
LONDON, Nov 20 (IranMania) - Iranian Commerce Minister Mohammad Shariatmadari said that the government is likely to decide against increasing prices of certain consumer goods next year provided that the parliament fully approves the 10 bln rials the government needs for allocating subsidies.

The official told Fars news agency that if the parliament makes the funds available and gives the government a free hand to set prices of essential goods, the Khatami administration will try not to increase prices of goods above the inflation level.

"One of the most important goods that the people get government subsidies for is wheat and flour whose prices will increase slightly," he said.

The Minister added that any increase in prices of essential consumer goods would have a huge psychological impact on prices of other commodities, aggravating the inflation rate.

"As we approach the yearend (March 2005), the budget deficit worsens," he said, stressing that the heads of the three branches of the government have come to the conclusion that the key to this problems lies with the parliament.

Shariatmadari said tapping the Foreign Exchange Reserve Fund, a cut in budget for implementing developmental projects, revenues from official hard currency sales and money earned from economizing on the national budget could be used to supply funds needed for allocating subsidies."

Hillary - Hillary Inc. - Hillary Inc.: "Hillary Inc.

By Eliza Newlin Carne, National Journal

Hillary Rodham Clinton insists that she's not running for president. But at an early-October Washington luncheon for Democratic women, it was easy to see why people refuse to believe her. The moment Clinton slipped through a side door into the Mayflower Hotel ballroom where she was scheduled to speak, several hundred women dropped their forks and leaped to their feet, whooping and applauding in a standing ovation.

After graciously thanking the event's many organizers, Clinton quickly launched into a full-throated assault on President Bush and congressional Republicans. "We're not just fighting to get back on the right track that we were [on] when the Clinton administration ended its stewardship of this country," she roared, her words all but drowned out by applause. "We are literally fighting to save the advances of the 20th century."

Clinton has been giving a lot of fiery speeches like the one she delivered that day to the packed Mayflower audience, which had gathered to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Democratic National Committee's Women's Leadership Forum. Whether stumping for her Democratic colleagues, collecting checks for her party, raising money for her Senate campaign, or rallying liberal activists, Clinton routinely draws standing-room-only crowds. She also tends to walk away with a thick wad of campaign contributions.

Having kept a relatively low profile during her first two years in the Senate, Clinton has swept back onto the national stage in recent months. The success of her multimillion-dollar leadership political action committee, HILLPAC; her elevation to a Senate leadership post; her outspoken attacks on the Bush administration; and especially the publication of her best-selling book, Living History, have dramatically ramped up her visibility and fundraising prowess.

Of course, Clinton's growing celebrity has fueled lots of breathless speculation about her presidential aspirations. Many political types remain convinced that she will run in 2004, despite her repeated assertions to the contrary. Clinton may or may not be gearing up to follow in her husband's footsteps to the White House. But one thing isBut one thing is clea clear: She has already replaced Bill Clinton as her party's most sought-after fundraiser.

"She's more of a star than the other 99 of us combined," Sen. Mark Dayton, D-Minn., declared in an interview. Dayton is one of the dozens of Senate, House, state, and local Democrats who have benefited from Sen. Clinton's largesse. And the Democratic Party desperately needs powerhouse fundraisers like Clinton these days. Democrats backed the 2002 campaign finance law, but its restrictions have left them badly strapped for cash.

The new law banned the soft money, or unregulated contributions, from labor unions and corporations that for years had filled the bulk of Democratic Party coffers. Now, both parties may raise only hard money, or regulated contributions, which can't exceed $2,000 per election from an individual donor. Collecting such low-dollar donations has long been a GOP forte, and Democrats are getting trounced. At last count, Republican Party committees had raised more than twice what the Democratic committees had raised in this election cycle.

Clinton, for one, has responded with an elaborate network of campaign accounts to collect hard money. She aggressively uses direct-mail solicitations and the Internet to round up small checks. Her political money organization boasts a multiperson staff with offices in Washington and New York City.

She also hosts up to five private fundraisers per month at the Clinton family's posh mansions in Chappaqua, N.Y., and off Embassy Row in northwest Washington. Like Bush, she is building a team of fundraising loyalists -- she calls them "Hill Raisers" -- to recruit donors and bundle checks for her. And she has turned Living History, which earned her an $8 million advance, into a productive political fundraising tool.

Although most Democrats applaud Clinton's emergence as a party rainmaker, some acknowledge that she is venturing into risky territory. Clinton remains a highly polarizing figure, inspiring angry conservatives to write almost as many checks for Republicans as she rounds up for Democrats. While plenty of Democrats are begging her to come raise money in their states, some would rather she stayed away.

The ethical problems that earned the Clintons such notoriety at the White House may come to dog Hillary Clinton's massive fundraising operation, particularly as it attracts more scrutiny. As a candidate in 2000 and as a senator, Clinton has moved vast sums of money around in a complicated array of interlocking and sometimes controversial campaign accounts -- leadership PACs, nonfederal accounts, joint committees with the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. The new campaign finance law has already banned some of these activities; others remain controversial and may soon face restrictions from the Federal Election Commission.

Still, Clinton's colleagues are watching -- and emulating -- her grassroots fundraising techniques. The 2002 campaign finance law has unquestionably drained the major party committees of both cash and influence. The new power centers are now outside interest groups and individual officeholders, such as Clinton, who can motivate low-dollar donors by virtue of their ideological appeal or their celebrity. With its vast staff, budget, and campaign coffers, Clinton's political organization has begun to assume a quasi-party status.

"I think we'll see her playing a particularly prominent role in this coming election year," said Tony Corrado, a professor of government at Colby College in Waterville, Maine. "Now that you have parties that can no longer raise soft money, there's going to be a lot more pressure on candidates to raise money on their own."

And if Clinton ever does run for president, she'll have a full-blown fundraising infrastructure at the ready. She'll also be able to call in all the chits on the $1.5 million in direct contributions that she has made to state, local, and national candidates as well as to party committees since her election to the Senate.

"She's doing well by doing good," said Ellen Malcolm, head of the Democratic women's PAC, EMILY's List, and president of a new liberal mega-PAC known as America Coming Together. "She's being very helpful to other Democratic candidates and organizations in their fundraising, and at the same time, building her own connections with donors across the country."

Queen Of The Hill
Building personal connections is an art that Clinton perfected during her years as first lady, when she and her husband developed a nationwide fundraising team that revolved around Hollywood celebrities, business executives, and prominent female activists. Many have gone on to become devoted fundraisers for Hillary Clinton, including New Yorkers John Catsimatidis, CEO of the Red Apple Group, and Alan Patricof, a venture capitalist who was finance chairman of her 2000 Senate race.

Another longtime Clinton loyalist is Susie Tompkins Buell, a California philanthropist and major Democratic donor who co-founded and co-owned the Esprit clothing chain. In September, Buell flew to New York for a kickoff dinner at the Clintons' Chappaqua estate to officially launch the fundraising drive for the senator's 2006 re-election campaign. Buell is also a founding member of Clinton's leadership PAC, HILLPAC.

"There's a very strong personal dimension there," Ann Lewis, the national chairwoman of the DNC Women's Vote Center, said of Clinton's fundraising style.

When she ran for the Senate in 2000, Clinton took full advantage of her White House contacts and also cashed in on New York's status as a leading power center for Democratic donors. She drew the bulk of her contributions from lawyers and law firms, the securities and investment sector, and the entertainment industry. But Clinton also struck out into uncharted territory, drawing large crowds to fundraising events in such cities as Cincinnati, Omaha, and Tulsa, a tactic that Democrats had until then largely overlooked.

"She changed the way we think about what we can do, and made the party look at medium-sized cities and small cities," said DSCC Executive Director Andrew Grossman. She "made people say, 'Look, there's money in these cities that we can raise, and we should do it.' "

For her 2000 campaign, Clinton ultimately raised more than $30 million, an amount she put up against the $40 million that her Republican opponent, then-Rep. Rick Lazio, had amassed, in part by appealing to anti-Hillary conservatives around the country. She also showed some of the same creative, aggressive fundraising instincts that made Lincoln Bedroom overnighters and Asian donors' contributions the subject of investigations during her White House years.

Clinton augmented her Senate campaign account by setting up a controversial joint fundraising committee with the DSCC. Dubbed "New York Senate 2000," that committee netted some $10.5 million in 2000, the bulk of it in unregulated, unlimited corporate and labor contributions. It was hardly the only joint committee of its type in the 2000 election, but it was one of the most lucrative. At the time, campaign finance watchdogs denounced such joint committees for letting federal candidates raise soft money for their campaigns, something that was illegal both before and after the 2002 campaign finance law took effect.

After the election, in which she beat Lazio 55 percent to 43 percent, Clinton started out cautiously in the Senate, deferring to more-senior members and concentrating on securing federal funds for New York. Yet she lost no time in setting up her leadership PAC, HILLPAC, which quickly became one of the top three such organizations in the Senate. Leadership PACs allow members of Congress to raise money for noncampaign purposes, such as making contributions to colleagues. They're controversial because they allow members to collect contributions far larger than those permitted for lawmakers' campaigns, and are often used to fund travel and self-promotion.

Since its inception in 2001, HILLPAC has raised $4 million and doled out more than $1 million to candidates and party committees. In 2002, HILLPAC was outdone only by the leadership PACs run by Sen. Tom Daschle, D-S.D., and Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., in the amount of money contributed to candidates.

Clinton also launched a new vehicle to raise soft money, setting up a nonfederal (state) arm of HILLPAC dubbed "HILLPAC-N.Y." Registered with the Internal Revenue Service as a tax-exempt 527 political committee, HILLPAC-N.Y. raised $356,000 in 2002, much of it in $5,000 and $10,000 contributions from labor unions and corporate executives. HILLPAC-N.Y. doled out $85,000 to state and local candidates in New York, and $240,000 to Democratic Party committees all over the country.

When the new campaign finance law took effect in November 2002, banning federal officeholders from collecting soft money, HILLPAC-N.Y. drained its accounts. But unlike most lawmakers who had operated nonfederal PACs, Clinton has yet to officially close down HILLPAC-N.Y. She appears to be hedging her bets, possibly in the event that the Supreme Court upholds a constitutional challenge to the new law. "HILLPAC still wants to contribute nonfederal money to some of the New York races," said one Democrat familiar with Clinton's fundraising activities.

Clinton and her staff are not eager to discuss her fundraising activities. She declined to be interviewed for this story, and her staff answered questions grudgingly, repeatedly referring this reporter to public campaign finance records.

Book Party
The new campaign finance law hasn't stopped Clinton from exploring new and different ways to raise campaign cash. If anything, she appears to have found an even better vehicle for raising money: Her best-selling book, Living History.

The autobiographical memoir, in which Clinton for the first time describes the emotional tumult that she felt during the Monica Lewinsky scandal, has sold some 1.4 million copies in the United States since its publication in June. It is entering its 17th week on the New York Times best-seller list, and has also emerged as a best-seller internationally.

The publication of Living History marked a turning point for Clinton as a senator, because it ended her early attempts to stay out of the limelight. The book has brought a tsunami of publicity and media attention. Clinton, who has personally signed thousands of copies, has used her book tour to reintroduce herself to Americans on her own terms. She has also begun a major media offensive, appearing on such shows as CBS's Early Show, CNN's Inside Politics, and NBC's Today to deliver blunt criticisms of the Bush administration's national security and economic policies.

The book has not only fattened Clinton's personal bank account by some $8 million, with royalties still to come, it has also proved a surprisingly effective political fundraising tool. While touring the country in recent months to promote the book, on publisher Simon & Schuster's tab, Clinton has headlined events that netted more than $1 million for her Senate colleagues and for the DSCC.

At a breakfast in Seattle in August for Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., at which Murray gave out her annual "Golden Tennis Shoe" awards for community service, Clinton drew an extraordinary 1,600 people. "They had to open up an overflow room to accommodate everybody," said Murray spokesman Todd Webster. "It was just a really energetic and excited crowd." The event raised $200,000 on Murray's behalf. The previous year, Murray's Golden Tennis Shoe event, which featured not Clinton but then-Sen. Jean Carnahan, D-Mo., drew 650 people and raised only $112,000.

Clinton's success at such events reflects both her personal magnetism and her appeal to the Democratic base, which responds to her unabashedly liberal, anti-Bush attacks and to her passionate defense of education, the environment, social welfare programs, and abortion rights. "It is a values-based fundraising," noted Lewis of the DNC. "People do not go into [contributing to Hillary Clinton] because they are wishy-washy about the Clintons."

It's the same kind of ideology-driven approach that has helped former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean so dramatically out-raise his fellow Democratic presidential contenders. "One of the things that has driven the Dean Internet fundraising, and Dean's small-dollar fundraising, has been the strength of his message and his forceful presentation of it," said Anita B. Dunn, a partner with the Democratic political consulting firm of Squier Knapp Dunn. "And in the post-McCain-Feingold era, raising small dollars, in particular, will be much more a function of perceived message than of perceived influence."

Like Dean, Clinton has set out to turn the Internet into a core fundraising tool. Both HILLPAC and her Senate re-election campaign account, which she has dubbed "Friends of Hillary," have their own Web sites ( and, with multiple gimmicks to attract donors.

The Friends of Hillary site offers a catalog of rewards for donors, who are invited to become "Hill's Angels." Donate $25, and you'll get a "Hill's Angels membership card" and a "commemorative" Living History bookmark. Up the ante to $75, and you'll get all that, plus a Living History coffee mug. For $500, you'll get the full "Living History Gift Package," complete with mug, pen, bookmark, and "a personally inscribed copy" of the memoir.

For "Hill Raisers," those who commit to rounding up checks for Clinton, the rewards are more personal. This month, those who managed to raise $1,000 were invited to participate in a live online chat with Clinton. The Friends of Hillary Web site also touts its "Young Voters for Hillary Rodham Clinton" program, which has the hip-sounding name, "YvHRC." The program rewards donors at various levels with everything from membership pins to conference calls with the senator.

Clinton "is picking up on a lesson we've learned at EMILY's List, which is that you can create a tremendous amount of financial power by combining many small contributions," Malcolm observed. Clinton's Web presence reflects an attempt "to build a personal connection in a mass-market, technological world," Malcolm added.

Clinton's Web activities also enable her to collect valuable names and addresses for direct-mail appeals. Clinton has been in the vanguard of the Democrats' new love of direct mail. In the first six months of this year, HILLPAC collected $717,745, a good percentage of which -- $168,435 -- went for direct-mail activities with the fundraising consulting firm of O'Brien McConnell & Pearson.

Clinton routinely signs direct-mail appeals for the DSCC, and she has even made candidate recruitment calls for the committee. "She's opening people's eyes" to new fundraising approaches, said the DSCC's Grossman.

Not all of the attention swirling around Clinton is positive, of course. She arguably has replaced Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., as the conservatives' favorite liberal to bash. The National Republican Senatorial Committee features a "Stop Hillary Now" logo on its Web site, complete with online contribution options and links to negative news reports about her.

Some Senate Democrats, most notably in the South, fear that Clinton could prove a lightning rod, attracting attacks from their opponents. "There are two sides of that coin when she goes in to help a candidate," noted NRSC spokesman Dan Allen. Polls show Clinton teetering between public approval and disapproval. A USA Today/CNN/Gallup poll in June found that 43 percent of Americans held a favorable opinion of her, with 43 percent unfavorable.

Clinton's media and fundraising blitz also has its dangers. While New Yorkers have a well-known taste for larger-than-life politicians, some may tire of all the presidential talk. A September Marist poll found that close to 70 percent of New Yorkers said that Clinton should not seek the White House in 2004, a 15-point jump from an April poll that had asked the same question.

Plenty of Hillary-haters are poised to pounce on the least sign of ethical transgression on her part. Although Living History has proved relatively noncontroversial, a few high-profile book deals have gotten lawmakers in hot water. In the mid-1990s, when then-House Speaker New Gingrich, R-Ga., accepted a $4.5 million book offer from publisher Rupert Murdoch -- far less than Clinton's Simon & Schuster take -- the resulting firestorm forced Gingrich to decline the advance. In the 1980s, a book controversy helped bring down House Speaker Jim Wright, D-Texas.

Already, Clinton's fundraising has been the target of some half-dozen complaints to the FEC, though none has prompted the agency to act. The highest-profile of these involves claims by Hollywood executive Peter F. Paul that for Clinton's 2000 Senate campaign, he spent $1.9 million on a fundraiser that she failed to report.

"Our view is that we reported what he told us," said Sen. Clinton's campaign treasurer, Harold Ickes, who is a former Clinton White House adviser. "If he's now changing his position, we have to know what it is. But the FEC has not pursued it so far."

Leadership PACs such as HILLPAC, moreover, have become increasingly controversial, particularly in light of the 2002 campaign finance law. Although they are still commonly known as "leadership" PACs, close to 200 House members and senators now operate them. In July, the FEC voted to place new limits on leadership PACs connected to presidential candidates. Responding to complaints that presidential leadership PACs enabled candidates to skirt spending limits, the FEC commissioners ruled that funds such PACs spent to provide polling and staff, for instance, for someone who eventually became a presidential candidate should count as an "in-kind" donation to that person's campaign.

Those rules won't apply to Clinton, of course, unless she declares herself a presidential candidate. But the FEC is also considering restricting or even banning all congressional leadership PACs, which allow lawmakers such as Clinton to hit up donors for amounts that far exceed the $2,000-per-election limit for individuals.

Will She Or Won't She?
Clinton, in the meantime, is merrily setting up new accounts. She established a new joint fundraising committee this year with the DSCC, becoming the only senator not up for re-election in 2004 to operate such an account. Dubbed the "Clinton-DSCC Victory Fund," the committee has pulled in only $58,000 thus far, but it is poised to raise much more. The new campaign finance law allows the joint committee to raise as much as $29,000 from any single donor, with $4,000 going to Clinton's campaign committee and the rest going to the DSCC.

Clinton's fundraising operation has a powerhouse staff headed by her trusted longtime aide, Patti Solis Doyle, who was her scheduler in the White House and a key adviser in her 2000 campaign. Solis Doyle oversees both HILLPAC and Friends of Hillary, and acts as a commander-in-chief of sorts for the senator's many fundraising activities. HILLPAC itself has four staff members operating out of a town house in southeast Washington, and three more posted in a Manhattan office.

To conservatives, Clinton's money machine furnishes clear evidence that she has set her sights on a White House bid in 2004. In his book Hillary's Scheme: Inside the Next Clinton's Ruthless Agenda to Take the White House, right-leaning Web journalist Carl Limbacher details a long list of reasons why Clinton's denials of presidential aspirations are not to be believed. Even mainstream journalists such as William Safire of The New York Times have suggested that former Gen. Wesley Clark, the newest entrant into the Democratic presidential race, is nothing but a stalking horse for Clinton.

Many Clinton allies, inspired in part by wishful thinking, also believe that she will run. "Draft Hillary" committees unconnected to her campaign have cropped up, and fans have routinely shown up at her book tour appearances to promote her as a presidential candidate. One fan even set up an unauthorized presidential committee for her at the FEC.

For her part, Clinton is adamant that she has no plans to run in 2004, although she has made no such promise for 2008. Clinton recently removed from her Web site some gushing e-mails from admirers urging her to run, after the messages attracted media attention. Whether playfully or purposefully, however, the Clintons have kept the buzz going. At last month's Chappaqua dinner to launch her 2006 campaign, Sen. Clinton reportedly remarked that she'd like all the guests present to stay on board "for my next campaign, whatever that might be."

Democrats close to Clinton do not expect her to suddenly enter the race. "I take her at her word. I don't think she's going to get in, [in] 2004," Malcolm said. But, she added, "I certainly think she will be on everybody's radar screen to run for president in the future."

Whatever transpires in the 2004 election, the continual speculation about Clinton's presidential plans only enhances her appeal to donors and activists. "Whether she's going to run or not, the people around her have done a very good job of capturing that attention, so that she's always in the game," said one Democratic operative. "I think the presidential speculation is a very useful tool for her on a national level."

Even if she is not a candidate, Clinton is positioned to play an influential strategic role in 2004, in both the presidential and the congressional contests. The Clintons have stated publicly that they are not officially endorsing Clark. But Clark reportedly has said that both Clintons encouraged him to run.

Hillary Clinton, moreover, has close ties to a long list of former Clinton administration officials who are raising millions of dollars for new liberal organizations. These groups have set out to take over some of the research and get-out-the-vote functions that the Democratic Party may not have enough money to do effectively under the new campaign finance law. These include ex-Clinton Chief of Staff John Podesta, who is launching a think tank called the American Majority Institute, and Ickes, who is raising money for Malcolm's new America Coming Together PAC as well as for a Democratic media fund.

"She's not just raising money," said Simon Rosenberg, president of the New Democrat Network, a PAC for centrist Democrats, speaking of Clinton. "Her allies are constructing and leading the infrastructure that will be the next Democratic Party."

Clinton's Senate colleagues have also begun to rely more heavily on her political insights and connections. In January, she was tapped to head the Senate Democratic Steering and Coordination Committee, an unusually senior post for a junior senator. The committee's role is to reach out to local, state, and national Democratic-leaning groups. Clinton has hosted a series of meetings with groups representing Native Americans, Hispanics, women, the Jewish community, environmentalists, and labor leaders -- meetings that have been well attended by both senators and activists.

"She's done a superb job of reaching out to constituency groups nationwide," said Dayton. "An invitation from Hillary Clinton is one that gets a very, very positive response."

Dayton has seen for himself how the former first lady's national and international stature leaves so many average Democrats starry-eyed. He has taken hundreds of Minnesotans through security in the Capitol building and up to the Senate visitors' gallery. "Ninety-eight percent of the time, the person they most want to see, and the only person they want to see on the floor, is Senator Clinton," Dayton recounted. "She really has a national prominence beyond anyone else in the Senate today."

Little wonder that Clinton can't seem to shake the rumors that she's running for president. She may never make it back to the White House. But at a time when Democratic candidates need campaign checks more desperately than ever, her ability to raise money has thrust her to the top of her party's hierarchy nonetheless."

South Dakota Politics: Andy Grossman leaves DSCC post as executive director

South Dakota Politics: January 19, 2004 - January 25, 2004: "Daschle leadership in jeopardy?
Roll Call contributing writer Stuart Rothenberg has a report today on the first ramification of Thune's run against Daschle, headlined "After 'Shotgun Marriage' Will New Blood Help Turn DSCC around?" Excerpt:

The announcement early last week that Andy Grossman would leave his post as executive director and be replaced by David Rudd, a former top aide to outgoing Sen. Fritz Hollings (D-S.C.), wasn’t big news in Omaha or Orlando. But it raised more than a few eyebrows on Capitol Hill....

After the 2002 elections, Daschle picked Corzine as chairman and Grossman as executive director for the 2003-2004 cycle. Corzine didn’t have input in the choice of Grossman and didn’t have a close relationship with him....

Democrats familiar with the goings on at the DSCC present a picture of a dysfunctional family. Corzine and Grossman didn’t have a good working relationship, even though the executive director tried to get the Senator to work with him. While Daschle and a number of his top aides apparently tried to address the friction between the two men, they failed to improve things....

But things changed recently when former Republican Rep. John Thune entered the Senate race against Daschle on Jan. 5. Daschle found himself in his toughest political fight since he was first elected to the Senate in 1986, guaranteeing that the DSCC’s top fundraiser and Grossman’s strongest advocate would increasingly be spending more time in South Dakota and less on committee work.

The timing of Grossman’s announcement, coming only days after Thune’s entry into the South Dakota race, is hard to ignore.

Interestingly, another of Daschle's staffers, Jay Carson, left the leadership office to work in the Dean campaign, which seems to have imploded after coming in third in Iowa. It seems that Daschle, like Al Gore, is becoming the kiss of death for Democratic campaigns."

Ground War - Steve Rosenthal Wages a $100 Million Battle to Line Up Democratic Votes (

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Steve Rosenthal Wages a $100 Million Battle to Line Up Democratic Votes
By Ann Gerhart
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, July 6, 2004; Page C01

There is President Bush and John Kerry and the merry band of bragsters, pollsters, pontificators, image-shapers flashing around on the higher reaches of cable TV. These are the brand names and faces of American politics.

Then there is Steve Rosenthal, a middle-aged Jewish guy with a big belly who looks like he'd be happy to live in Takoma Park, which he does, and coach his kid's baseball team, which he does. In this presidential election, he may be the most important person you've never heard of.

Rosenthal has $100 million at his disposal, no boss and only one job: to find, track and deliver Democrats to the polls come November. "Hopefully, a byproduct of this is that George Bush will end up back in Crawford and," he adds sardonically, "spend the next several years trying to figure out if he really did make mistakes."

Usually, get-out-the-vote operations start after Labor Day. Money gets spread. Precinct captains get their big day to swagger around. Not this time. The difference is that Rosenthal, the former political director of the AFL-CIO, is already prowling around out there. He is setting up an elaborate war plan that has more than a thousand paid foot soldiers marching up to doors in 17 battleground states. They come armed with Palm handhelds loaded with voter registration data and streaming video about education and jobs.

As head of America Coming Together, one of the best-funded political interest groups created after campaign finance reform, Rosenthal -- like the Republican National Committee -- has been at this for months. Like all ruthless fighters, he is not always nice.

"He is as mean and tough and vicious as they come," says Donna Brazile, Al Gore's campaign manager in 2000, "and that makes him more attractive. He's the last great hope of the Democratic Party."

On this hot day in Philadelphia, Rosenthal is being nice.

"What you are all doing is incredible," he tells about 45 members of the Palm brigade, canvassers searching rough neighborhoods for the real people to match the voter data they carry. He lavishes them with a few more phrases of praise -- he has learned to do this sort of thing -- then moves on to what he really relishes.

"I am going to give you two numbers: 172. And the other is 537. Anybody know what either of them are?" Rosenthal asks.

"Electoral votes?" somebody calls out.

"No," he says. "Not a bad guess."

Somebody else confuses 537 with 527, the section of the tax code that gives the political advocacy groups their label.

He waits. No one has any more guesses."

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"There are 172 days left between now and Election Day," Rosenthal says on this day in May, "and 537 is the number of votes that they claim that George Bush won by in Florida."

"Boooooooo!" chorus the canvassers.

"What I do when I am thinking about an election is, I break it down," says Rosenthal, "person by person, name by name, every single voter that we talk to, and who they talk to, to connect them to what we need to do in this state." Pennsylvanians will cast between 4.8 million and 5 million votes, Rosenthal predicts, and "we have to get 2 1/2 million of them."

In the Trenches

In the billion-dollar business of modern politics, the highly paid consultancy chatters about the metric, the margin of error, the media buy, the group psychology dynamic, the focus group. The consultancy runs the air war, planning surgical ad strikes from a distance.

Rosenthal works down on the ground. In his big corner office two blocks from the White House, he is restless behind his desk. "He doesn't like to just stay in D.C. and go to all the same restaurants where you can have all the same conversations," says JoDee Winterhoff, a former top aide to Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and now political director for America Coming Together. From now until Election Day, Rosenthal will spend two or three days each week in states where the electoral votes are seen as up for grabs.

One of these visits takes him to black North Philadelphia with the canvassers, mostly middle-age African American and West Indian women. He knocks on doors, peers through torn curtains, steps gingerly past a rusting bike with missing wheels. He is looking for what works and what doesn't, constantly assessing and measuring. As Tom Lindenfeld, a veteran grass-roots strategist working with him, puts it, "You don't get what you expect. You get what you inspect."

It is hot, dirty and desperate on these blocks, but they are Democratic blocks. Philadelphia voted 80 percent for Al Gore in 2000. By Election Day 2003, Democratic registration in the city had surged by an additional 86,000, primarily from pilot efforts designed and funded under Rosenthal's auspices, and carried out by field workers close to Rep. Chaka Fattah (D-Pa.). Now former Fattah aide Greg Naylor is state director for America Coming Together. Naylor's longtime colleague Donald Redmond is heading up the group's operation in Missouri. Since canvassing began again this spring, registration has grown more than 100,000 since 2000.

This feat is even more staggering when viewed from the pavement. Rosenthal is teaming up with Maria Watson, a nursing home employee in New York and one of 30 members of the Service International Employees Union who have moved to Philadelphia for six months, leaving their lives, and in Watson's case, her 4-year-old grandson, behind. The two peer at Watson's Palm, which displays a block list drawn from voter registration and property records. They knock on the first door. "Beautiful," Rosenthal mutters. "Nobody lives here," in contradiction to the data. The second house is abandoned. At the third door, a child nearby calls out, "Nobody live there."

"Thank you, baby," Watson calls back. Her grandson smiles out from a big button she wears on her shirt. "You must miss him," says Rosenthal. "I'm doing this for him," she says firmly. They walk past the Perfect Love Ministries storefront church and Jessie's Nice & Polite Lounge and tackle another block of houses with sagging porches, shabby roofs and DirecTV satellite dishes.

"What are your major concerns?" Watson asks a woman coming home from work. Her Palm prompts her with a list, so that America Coming Together can stay in touch on those particular issues and use them to motivate the voter to go to the polls on Election Day.

"Crime? Drugs? Education? Jobs?"

"Yes, yes, yes and yes!" says the woman.

Up another walkway go Rosenthal and Watson, stepping over the trash. "Hey, I'm a candidate," calls a guy with bloodshot eyes. "I'm running for president." At another house, a man in an NRA cap answers their knock. "Are you registered?" says Rosenthal. "Yes," says the man. As a seasoned organizer, Rosenthal knows that "yes" can be a way of saying "leave me alone." So he holds the man's gaze, until the man reaches into his wallet and pulls out his registration card.

On another block, they linger for a moment in front of a house with flower boxes and cleanly swept Astroturf covering the steps. "See this?" Rosenthal instructs, jerking a thumb at this example of homeowner pride. "These are your people you use to maintain contact on your block."


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Across the street, a woman in tight stretch pants and a halter top puts down her grocery bags and makes a call from a pay phone. The conversation does not go well. Cursing loudly, she takes the receiver and starts hammering it, hard, over and over, against the phone.

The canvass team stops to watch. "Another dissatisfied constituent," says Lindenfeld. "Who's gonna go sign her up?" Everybody laughs, including Rosenthal, who then adds, firmly, "We don't leave anybody behind."

At age 51, with 30 years in organizing, and as a former deputy political director for the Democratic National Committee, Rosenthal is always teaching the basics. Put your foot between the jamb and the screen door before it gets slammed shut. Rattle the fence before opening the gate. Why? To make sure there's no nasty dog. "I got that advice from the letter carriers' union, long ago," he says.

"He's a great listener, and he steals things with no conscience," says his longtime friend Andy Stern, president of SEIU, which has donated money and bodies to the program. "He'll hone in on some . . . phone bank person discussing how many seconds you can talk on the phone before the person gets bored. And Steve will sit there fascinated and ask what would happen if you had to do it in four seconds." Rosenthal keeps index cards in his shirt pocket -- he rarely wears a suit -- and he jots on them throughout the day. "Then he organizes them at night," says Stern. "He's like a sponge."

But: "He's not very patient with people who think they know everything and want to tell him what to do. It is not his best skill to tolerate people who may not be very accomplished."

A Divided Partnership

Because of Rosenthal's success mobilizing union voters while at the AFL-CIO, labor leaders agreed to fund a new initiative, Partnership for America's Families, that he would direct, using $20 million to mobilize voters. But last summer, within a few months of its formation, the new effort was dissolving in a spasm of acrimony between two powerful union bosses, Stern and Gerald McEntee, president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. The partnership's entire board abruptly resigned. McEntee charged that Rosenthal "failed to win the support of key labor unions and leaders and other constituency organizations."

Then a prominent black union leader attacked Rosenthal, saying his leadership amounted to "paternalism."

"We have told Mr. Rosenthal and his organization where he could go and what he could do," AFSCME Treasurer Bill Lucy said in a press release. The issue "is about who will decide how the black community will be involved in its own politics." Oscar Sanchez, then head of the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement, chimed in that Rosenthal, as the AFL-CIO political director, "was not sympathetic to the causes of the minority community."

"This is one of the criticisms that will haunt him for life," says Brazile, who is black. She jumped to Rosenthal's defense, taking him to meet with members of the Congressional Black Caucus. Rosenthal is no racist, she says.

"He was trying to transition from 'old school' to 'new school,' " she says, "and he bumped heads" by making clear to some of the Democrats' traditional constituency groups that their time-honored methods were not getting enough voters to the booths.

"Don't expect to demand a seat at the table," she adds. "You have to earn it with Steve."

"People perceived that his demands were inappropriate," says Gina Glantz, who ran Bill Bradley's presidential campaign and has known Rosenthal since working with him on the Walter Mondale campaign. She rejects that argument. "If [he thinks] you're not getting the job done, it doesn't make any difference what color you are or what color your organization is. He is going to measure your performance."

Asked about this episode, Rosenthal says, "It's history. It was an ugly period. I have spent my adult life working to win power for the powerless, and I let my record speak for myself."

"He can be prickly," says Don Kaniewski, political director of the Laborers' International Union. "He can be disagreeable. I have not always felt that he was the most open and forthcoming person on everything I wanted to know about. That didn't prevent me from respecting the work he was doing. And by every measure he has been successful. And that is how he would like to be judged: Did I win, not who did I piss off?" "

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Lessons From a Master

The youngest of three children, Rosenthal grew up in a Levitt house in Hicksville, a white working-class suburb of Long Island. His father was a shoe salesman who started a union for shoe store workers, and Rosenthal's first real job, at 16, was selling shoes in a union shop. He sold a lot of shoes. "I learned from a master," he says of his late father. "He was really, really good at selling. He would have been very, very good at this stuff" his son does now.

Political organizing and fundraising is much the same. You scrutinize your customers' needs and make your pitch. Part of his job as head of America Coming Together is fundraising, and after a recent meeting with potential donors in New Mexico, Rosenthal reached for a retail metaphor, telling his staff, "We didn't sell any vacuums today. We made a couple of visits, we have a couple on layaway."

There wasn't much talk around the Rosenthal dinner table about politics and current affairs, although there was that time someone tossed a brick through the front window to warn his father away from organizing the union. His father was "probably a registered Republican" in GOP-owned and -operated Nassau County, and one summer, because his dad was friendly with the committeeman, Rosenthal got a job working at the local park, "the first and last thing the Republican Party ever did for me."

The passion came from his mother, he thinks, and the Judaic tradition of tikkun olam, which means "repair the world." She was religious, strictly kosher and insisted her children go to synagogue weekly.

"I shouldn't tell you this," Rosenthal says, "but I barely made it out of high school." He just wasn't interested. After a stint at community college, he transferred to the State University of New York at New Paltz, a liberal hotbed then and now. There, he majored in political science and urban studies, grew energized against the Vietnam War and hunger and volunteered for George McGovern.

After working on some local campaigns and Ted Kennedy's presidential race in 1980, he was hired to help run a campaign by the Communication Workers of America to represent New Jersey's state employees.

Rosenthal moved to Trenton, and met and married a fellow CWA organizer, "a Teamster's daughter," Eileen Kirlin.

"Working in New Jersey for the union, that was the be-all and end-all. That was the Lord's work," he says. "We had become a very big union in a small state, and this was what it was all about: organizing workers, building political power for working people."

The couple moved to Washington in 1986, when Kirlin was hired to head organizing for CWA. She is now director of SEIU's public employee sector. They have two children, Ana, 19, adopted from Brazil, and Sam, 15, adopted from Paraguay.

In 1991, Democratic National Committee Chairman Ron Brown borrowed Rosenthal for Bill Clinton's presidential bid. He went to work as an associate deputy secretary at the Labor Department after the election.

In late 1995, AFL-CIO President John Sweeney hired Rosenthal to energize the federation's flagging political operation, and over the next six years he turned out increasing numbers of union voters, even as organized labor's political clout waned and its workforce fell. After the 2002 midterm elections, with Republicans solidifying their grip on Congress and statehouses, Rosenthal left the AFL. Federal election law was going to change, shutting down the "soft money," or unlimited contributions, that donors could make to the parties. Labor traditionally had given huge sums of this soft money to the Democrats to fund turnout efforts. That money would have to go somewhere else, and Rosenthal was keen to apply the get-out-the-vote programs he had built beyond union households.

That was the idea behind the Partnership for America's Families. After the flap, Rosenthal teamed up with Democratic fundraiser Ellen Malcolm, who had started Emily's List to fund pro-choice female candidates, and Harold Ickes, a senior aide during the Clinton presidency who masterminded Hillary Rodham Clinton's run for the Senate, and the trio formed America Coming Together.

George Soros, the Hungarian who came to America with nothing and built a fortune estimated at $7 billion, had decided that defeating President Bush had become "the central focus of my life." Perhaps the best way to assure this, he decided after meeting Malcolm and Rosenthal, with the trio and seeing Rosenthal's PowerPoint presentation, was to pledge $10 million to their effort. Soros has persuaded other rich progressives to do the same. The group now has pledges and receipts totaling about $75 million toward a goal of $100 million that it is confident it will reach well before Election Day. There have been howls of protest from campaign finance watchdogs, editorial pages and the Republican National Committee that groups like this subvert the intent of the McCain-Feingold Act to reduce the influence of large donors.

Rosenthal loves to argue this point."

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"How? Look, there are two kinds of donors -- access donors and ideological donors. Our donors are ideological. We can't give them anything. We have no tickets to the inauguration, no Lincoln Bedroom, no photos with the president," he says, shrugging. "All we can give them is the change they want, and that's all they want."

The Berlin Wall of the law forbids America Coming Together and the other 527s from coordinating with the Democratic National Committee or the Kerry campaign. Publicly, DNC Chairman Terry McAuliffe has grown used to saying, "It's illegal for me to discuss them." Privately, a senior DNC aide admits it can be quite awkward: Longtime comrades-in-arms, some who worked 16-hour days together through the primaries, now can't even speak to each other.

For Rosenthal, funny, acerbic, brusque, battered from his tussles over the years, this is exquisitely liberating.

Riding in the group's van in Philadelphia, he looks out the window and grins. "In a way, we don't have to take all their [expletive] anymore," he says. "Not the candidate, not the wife, not the manager. This is not so bad."

Foot Soldiers' Pitch

"Tell me the weirdest thing that has happened to you," he commands, back in the group's Philadelphia headquarters, an expectant grin on his face. The uniforms are too hot, the canvassers say. The ex-criminals they approach don't know if they have voting rights. The young hoods won't listen. And the Palms -- the expensive, sophisticated, darling Tungsten 2 Palms! -- are freezing up, jumping around, annoying the canvass teams.

"Those batteries don't last as well as we do," says one of the canvassers. Rosenthal frowns. "This is not good news," he says.

Still, the foot soldiers are cheerful, eager to share their persuasion techniques with the general: Groceries can be carried while working on a prospect. Children can be hoisted onto a hip while Mama fills out her form.

"We were at the mall," begins Watson, in her rolling West Indian accent. " 'Are you registered to vote?' I asked a woman. 'Why should I register to vote?' she says. I say, 'Is this economy okay with you?' She says, 'I think I should register to vote.' " Watson finishes this tale with a flourish, and the room claps and laughs.

Another canvasser from New York talks vaguely about not feeling welcomed by the local workers, then thanks Rosenthal several times for coming to the office to listen to her concerns.

"Are you leading up to some group hug or something?" he says. "Because that is where I draw the line.""

BIPAC: Electing Business to Congress

BIPAC: Electing Business to Congress: "On July 16th, BIPAC supporters had the opportunity to hear from the four campaign committees on their predictions for this fall. Not surprisingly, both sides foretold of great success and, oftentimes, with each side expecting to win the same race!

Micaela Isler, PAC Director of Household International and Chairman of BIPAC’s PAC Council, moderated the panel comprised of Chris LaCivita (Political Director, National Republican Senatorial Committee), Andrew Grossman (Political Director, Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee), Michael Matthews (Political Director, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee) and Steve Schmidt (Communications Director, National Republican Congressional Committee).

With 14 Democrat and 20 Republican-held seats up for grabs in the Senate, it is understandable why the NRSC and DSCC are not willing to concede victory to the other side in any of the races this cycle.

You Like Potayto and I Like Potahto

Andy Grossman with the DSCC said that he did not expect a big change in the make-up of the Senate (perhaps a 2 – 3 seat pick-up by the Democrats) and certainly anticipates that the Democrats will maintain the majority.

Chris LaCivita with the NRSC offered his differing view and highlighted the Minnesota, South Dakota and Missouri races as their top three challenger races. Both sides acknowledged that the South Dakota Senate race will be a real nail biter up until the end, with less than 10,000 votes making the difference as to whether Sen. Tim Johnson (D) will be returning to Washington.

Both differed on the outlook for the Texas Senate race, with LaCivita suggesting that any money spent in Texas by the DSCC is money wasted. Grossman indicated that recent polls have shown Kirk tied with Cornyn and that significant dollars would be invested by the DSCC in the Texas Senate race.

The NRSC indicated that they feel confident about the Arkansas and New Hampshire Senate races, while acknowledging they are competitive. The DSCC highlighted the Colorado and Oregon races as places where the Republican candidates may be "out of step" with voters in their state, and projected that the Oregon Senate election will be the sleeper race for Democrats this cycle.

The Senate races in Maine, Oklahoma and Kentucky were mentioned as long shots for Democrats, but not without potential for pick-ups and some possible movement.

You Say Tomayto, I Say Tomahto!

On the House side, Democrats need to pick up six seats in order to regain the majority, and with 47 seats without incumbents running, it is certainly mathematically possible. However, the NRCC was optimistic on its projections for this Fall to retain the majority.

The NRCC is predicting that Republicans will fare well in each of the four member vs. member match-ups that occurred due to redistricting. The seats that were cited as most vulnerable were: Rep. Connie Morella (R-MD 8), the MD 2 open seat, Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV 2) and Rep. Rob Simmons (R-CT 2). The NRCC dismissed any talk of Rep. Henry Bonilla’s (R TX 23) risk, citing polls that show him 30 points ahead.

The DCCC highlighted Georgia and Iowa as their two greatest states with opportunities, achieved through redistricting.

Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off?

With all of the differing views as to what will actually take place, it may lead one to suggest that we "call the whole thing off"…but with so much at stake, we know that the business community must continue to fight for its place at the table and not cede control of the debate to the not-so-pro-business side.

Telling the Business Story

During lunch, Alex Castellanos with National Media and Evan Tracey of Campaign Media Analysis Group briefed attendees on what to expect from interest groups this cycle. Castellanos noted that pro-business groups tend to play a fourth quarter game whereas the not-so-pro-business groups become energized much earlier, and thus are prepared to mobilize easily in the last 72 hours of the campaign. Castellanos re-emphasized the BIPAC point that American business has a very good story to tell, but business is the only one who can tell that story.

What Really Matters to Business

BIPAC’s Bernadette Budde wrapped up the day by highlighting the 12 races (9 House and 3 Senate) that exemplify how business should be evaluating races. The races she selected were based upon the issue coalitions that would result from the election or defeat of a candidate, as well as what it would mean for the composition of committees in the 108th Congress.

The Mid-Course Connection conference was hosted by BIPAC’s PAC Council. The PAC Council seeks to develop a strong and vibrant PAC community and increase the political effectiveness of the American business community in electing pro-business candidates to Congress. The PAC Council does this by hosting monthly workshops, conducting one-on-one PAC check-ups and issuing PAC primers about subjects important to the PAC community.

If you would like more information about the PAC Council, please contact Lacye Tennille or Heather Alfano at (202) 833-1880."

Talon News -- Harris Forgoes 2004 Senate Run; Not Ruling Out Race in 2006 - Andy Grossman

Talon News -- Harris Forgoes 2004 Senate Run; Not Ruling Out Race in 2006: "Harris Forgoes 2004 Senate Run; Not Ruling Out Race in 2006
By Jimmy Moore
Talon News
January 19, 2004

SARASOTA, FL (Talon News) -- After months of behind-the-scenes political posturing and speculation, Rep. Katherine Harris (R-FL) announced on Friday that she will not run for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by retiring Democrat Sen. Bob Graham.

But Harris tricked the crowd of supporters and media that gathered for her statement at the local Boys & Girls Club by revealing that she would be running for the Senate.

"[A]fter careful deliberation, I am here to announce my candidacy for the United States Senate," Harris stated.

After a brisk round of applause from the audience, Harris admitted, "But just not this year."

Harris said she looks forward to running for reelection to the U.S. House of Representatives this year and helping Republicans make gains in Congress.

House Speaker Dennis Hastert reacted positively to Harris' decision not to run by describing her as "an effective leader who always puts people before politics."

He continued, "I am glad that she plans on continuing her service in the House."

Harris became a household name during the 2000 presidential election in Florida when she certified the election in favor of George W. Bush while serving as Secretary of State during the infamous election recount. Her popularity with conservatives from that unprecedented event paved the way for her to win a seat in the U.S. Congress in 2002.

Some Republicans believed Harris' presence in the Florida U.S. Senate race would have incited a backlash from Democrat voters who would have reminded them of the 2000 presidential election. They even said that her candidacy would have jeopardized President George W. Bush chances of winning reelection.

In fact, Andy Grossman, the executive director of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, was so concerned about Harris running for the U.S. Senate that he had already begun using her as a political pawn designed to rally Democrat supporters to work in this year's elections.

"Please send Katherine Harris a message that we don't want her in the Senate, and won't let her steal any future elections," he wrote in a recent e-mail to supporters.

Grossman called Harris "an election-stealing, right-wing apologist for the radical Republican agenda."

Nevertheless, before her announcement that she would not be running, Harris was leading two recent polls conducted by The Miami Herald and the St. Petersburg Times, despite not being an official candidate in the race.

With Harris out of the race, it has become a tightly contested race between the remaining declared Republican candidates.

The Republicans running for the U.S. Senate include outgoing state House Speaker Johnnie B. Byrd, Jr., former U.S. Rep. Bill McCollum, state Sen. Daniel Webster, state Rep. Mark Adam Foley, Judicial Watch leader Larry Klayman, former Sen. Bob Smith (R-NH), and former U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Mel Martinez.

Although she has ruled out a run in 2004, Harris has left the door open for a possible run for the U.S. Senate in 2006 against incumbent Democrat Sen. Bill Nelson.

"My decision may surprise those who looked forward to the horse race and the headlines," Harris responded when asked if she would be running in 2006. "Rest assured, all in good time."

As a highly successful GOP fundraiser since the 2000 election, Harris built a $3 million war chest for her 2002 campaign for Congress. As of September, she had raised another $350,000 for her next political race.

The Republican primary for the U.S. Senate race in Florida will be held on August 31.

Copyright © 2004 Talon News -- All rights reserved."

Saturday, November 06, 2004

The World Today - Foreign policy a challenge for Bush in his second term

The World Today - Foreign policy a challenge for Bush in his second term: "Foreign policy a challenge for Bush in his second term PRINT FRIENDLY EMAIL STORY
The World Today - Thursday, 4 November , 2004 12:18:00
Reporter: Eleanor Hall
ELEANOR HALL: The most urgent and potentially dangerous challenges for the next Bush administration are likely to be in the areas of foreign policy.

So will a second Bush administration adopt a more moderate approach to foreign policy, as some analysts have been suggesting, or will President Bush' decisive victory embolden the neo-conservatives?

One foreign policy analyst well placed to answer this is Dr Lawrence Korb.

A former Assistant Secretary of Defence in the Reagan administration, Dr Korb is now Senior Fellow at the Centre for American Progress and a former Deputy President of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Dr Korb spoke to me a short time ago from his home in Virginia.

LAWRENCE KORB: I think that the neo-conservatives will be emboldened by the victory, since so much of the campaign was fought on foreign policy grounds. That's not why the President won, but basically this war dominated, virtually, the last month of the campaign.

ELEANOR HALL: Now we heard House majority leader, Tom Delay, say today that this victory means it's time not just to fight the war on terror, but to win it outright. What do you think he means by that?

LAWRENCE KORB: Well, I think what he basically means is that we should continue the policy of regime change for those groups that support terrorists, and we ought to follow up more on the President's admonition, you know, either you're with us or against us, and if you don't support us in this war, then we will go on without you, and we'll go after those people who we think are supporting the terrorists.

ELEANOR HALL: Now, presumably the choice of personnel in the next administration is going to be critical in the future of foreign policy. Do you believe that Donald Rumsfeld will stay, and who do you think might replace the dove in the first administration, Colin Powell?

LAWRENCE KORB: Well, Secretary Rumsfeld wants to stay, because he wants to finish the transformation of the military to take our military out of the, as he puts it, out of the industrial age more into the information age, and he was not able to get much of that done in the first Bush administration because of the war, the attacks of September 11th.

I think if you take a look at the Secretary of State, this is going to be a key indicator – if the President should reach across the aisle and get somebody like a Senator Biden, for example, a leading Democrat, then I think you would see an indication of getting the parties to work together.

On the other hand, I think if he goes with one of his own people, like somebody like Condoleezza Rice, the National Security Advisor, or Paul Wolfowitz, the Deputy Secretary of Defence, then I think it's an indication he plans to continue the same type of policy he's had in the first administration.

ELEANOR HALL: Now, you're a former Assistant Defence Secretary yourself. If you were advising the President right now, what would you be telling him are the most important foreign policy measures he should take immediately?

LAWRENCE KORB: Well, I think what he has to do is get help from the rest of the world to deal with the situation of Iraq. Our situation is… our military is overstretched very badly, and we're vulnerable in places like Korea, for example, or if something should happen in the Taiwan straits.

I think the next thing that he needs to do is work together, primarily with the Europeans, on Iran. Iran is a very dangerous situation, and also work with our allies – with China, Russia, Japan and South Korea – to deal with the situation in North Korea.

ELEANOR HALL: How likely do you think it is that he will be able to reach out to European allies, for example, in a second administration?

LAWRENCE KORB: I think it'll be very difficult. One thing he could do is move on areas that are important to Europe that are not directly connected with the war on terror –the International Criminal Court, for example, the Kyoto Protocol – those are issues that are very important to the Europeans.

And if he would sit down with them and try and work out some of the objections that the United States has to those arrangements, I think that would go a long way to creating an environment which he could then cooperate in situations like Iraq and Iran.

ELEANOR HALL: And how confident are you that the US will head in the right direction, as you see it, in terms of national security and foreign policy over the next four years?

LAWRENCE KORB: Well, unfortunately, I don't think it'll be able to continue on this idea, sort of, unilateral if they can, multilateral only if they must, rather than sort of the opposite way in which the Republican Party from Eisenhower to his father, which was 'always multilateral if we can, unilateral only if we must' approach.

ELEANOR HALL: Do you think there's likely to be division inside the Republican Party then?

LAWRENCE KORB: Well, I think divisions will occur if the situation in Iraq is not brought under control, because while the American people did vote for the President, they did it in spite of his Iraq policy, not because of it.

And if that situation continues to drag on with casualties – we're now getting close to 1,200 casualties – and every day there's some horrible thing going on in Iraq, and if there doesn't seem to be any end to it, I think you're going to see opposition from his own party from people like Senator Lugar and Senator Hagel.

ELEANOR HALL: And how high do you think the stakes are in the next four years, particularly in terms of foreign policy?

LAWRENCE KORB: Well, I think they're very, very high, because if we don't get the situation with al-Qaeda under control, there's liable to be more attacks, not only on the United States, but on its interests and its friends around the world.

And we now know that because of the way in which we handled Afghanistan and also going into Iraq without a clear reason, we have basically increased al-Qaeda – it's metastasised – it's now in some 60 countries, and you have many people in the Arab world that see our invasion of Iraq as an indication that Osama bin Laden may have been correct about what he says about the United States.

ELEANOR HALL: You're a former member of a Republican administration, but you essentially seem to be saying that the first Bush term did not get it right on critical things like the war on terror.

Would you have preferred a Kerry win?

LAWRENCE KORB: Well, I think I would have preferred a different approach in foreign policy, and it looked like Kerry… Kerry actually had the same foreign policy as Bush's father did, and this was my Republican party, as I mentioned, from Eisenhower through his father, this is the way that he was approaching it.

I mean, the Democratic Party has become the, if you will, the party of international realism, whereas the Bush administration has a very, very idealistic radical approach to the world.

ELEANOR HALL: What hope do you have that that ideological approach might change? Where could the change come from?

LAWRENCE KORB: Well, I think the one hope for changes would be that President Bush begins to worry about his place in history, and then becomes concerned about the legacy he will leave, and he would not want to leave office with the United States' prestige around the world at an all time low.

ELEANOR HALL: And how confident do you think that we may see that change, at least in the second half of this next administration?

LAWRENCE KORB: Well, I'm not terribly confident, based upon everything that I see in terms of even the President's speech today, that he will do that.

And of course Vice President… you still have the same Vice President Cheney, who's very influential and is really sort of the architect of the approach that the President has taken to the world.

ELEANOR HALL: Former Assistant Secretary of Defence in the Reagan administration, Dr Korb, who's now Senior Fellow at the Centre for American Progress, speaking to me from Virginia."