Straight Talk, Senator Clinton? We just can’t get a straight answer.

She has issues about issues.

By Mike Duncan

Senator Hillary Clinton has been running for president pretty much since she was first elected to the Senate. But after all of that time, after all of the trips, press conferences, debates, and ads, what do Michiganders really know about Clinton’s plans?

On issue after issue, she has avoided taking strong positions, has contradicted herself, or has simply refused to answer any questions. Despite the almost constant news coverage, the only thing any of us really know for sure about Senator Clinton’s plans is that she wants to live in the White House again.
That’s not good enough. It’s not enough to be ambitious. It’s not enough to want to be president. The people deserve presidential candidates who want to be elected for a reason. We deserve candidates who take principled stands on important policy questions — yes, even the controversial ones. We deserve a president who has a vision for our future.

Senator Clinton may have many policy plans — but if she does, she hasn’t been eager to talk about them. So we’re left to guess: Did she or did she not have a plan to reform the Alternative Minimum Tax, which was set to hit 23 million Americans with unexpected tax increases this year? First, she said she had a plan. Then she said she’d defer to the chairman of the House tax-writing committee. Then, when he announced a plan that would raise taxes by a record-breaking $1.3 trillion, Clinton refused to give a straight answer whether she supported his plan or what she would do next.

That’s not the first time she has tried to have it both ways when it comes to the economy. How would Senator Clinton help Michiganders who need assistance? Just last week, she said that she wanted to “put money in people’s hands.” That sounds all well and good, except that one of the centerpieces of her campaign is taking money out of people’s hands. Not only did she vote in the Senate for the largest tax increase in history, but she has actually said on the campaign trail that she’s “going to take things away from you on behalf of the common good.” The people of Michigan don’t need the government to take more of their money. They need a strong economy, so they can earn and keep more money for their families.

How about health care? Senator Clinton tried this once before in 1993, with a plan to have the government take over our health care system, with accountants and bureaucrats in Washington making decisions about care instead of patients and doctors. Her new plan isn’t quite identical, but the guiding philosophies behind it are the same: more government, higher taxes, and less choice. Her plan will increase the power bureaucrats exercise over the health-care system, instead of doctors and patients. And though Senator Clinton insists the plan would create “no new bureaucracy,” it manages to spend $110 billion per year just to start. That’s a lot of money, and Senator Clinton admits that she will raise taxes in order to pay for it, but even by her own calculations, that would only cover part of the cost. Where will the rest come from? She won’t say.

On national-security issues, Senator Clinton seems more interested in appealing to left-wing activists than in offering serious answers to issues that directly affect our nation’s safety and security. It wasn’t long ago that she was telling audiences she opposed setting a deadline for troop withdrawal from Iraq. Now, she not only supports a deadline, but she says she always did. In spring of 2006, Clinton said that she would “of course” support funding for the troops. But less than three weeks later, she joined only 13 other senators to vote against funding our troops. Three weeks was all it took to change her mind.

That’s just a start. Senator Clinton won’t give a straight answer on whether or not she has a plan to reform Social Security — or even whether she believes the impending bankruptcy of our national retirement system is a ‘crisis.’ She has gone back and forth on whether she does or doesn’t support giving driver’s licenses to illegal aliens. Clinton tells us she is the most experienced candidate, but refuses to release millions upon millions of pages of documents from her tenure in the White House to back up her claims.

A presidential election is not just about telling the American people what they want to hear. It’s about trust and leadership. If Senator Clinton won’t level with Michiganders — or any voters — about what she would do in the White House, if she doesn’t want to take positions on the hard issues now, how can we trust her to lead our nation?

— Mike Duncan is chairman of the Republican National Committee.

You can read the article here

Now here’s a bad sign; Hillary Busing in Supporters to New Hampshire

(Now we know why she won)

Hillary Clinton is having so much trouble drawing large crowds of New Hampshire voters to her rallies that she’s been busing in supporters from out of state.

That’s what NBC correspondent Andrea Mitchell reported on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” on Monday.

Mitchell said she was surprised to find at a recent Hillary Clinton rally in New Hampshire many attendees who were from Long Island and Upstate New York.

NBC Washington bureau chief, Tim Russert, also appeared on the show and offered more confirming details.

Russert said he was attending a Clinton rally at Nashua High School this weekend and was tipped off by the school’s maintenance man to check out the license plates in the parking lot. Russert said he was stunned to find the school’s lot filled with cars bearing Massachusetts plates.

Word from New Hampshire is that Hillary is simply not drawing strong grass-roots supports and has to rely on union activists from outside New Hampshire to fill out the crowds at her events.

Following Obama’s win in the Iowa caucuses, he now holds a double-digit lead in several New Hampshire polls, and it’s becoming clear that Hillary can’t compete with Obama’s charismatic appeal when it comes to attracting crowds at campaign events.

The New Hampshire primary is set for Tuesday, Jan. 8.

Now back to Iowa for a second:

Regarding Hillary’s slogan (for this week anyway – she can’t seem to get that right either) “Change”, looking at this photo from the Iowa Caucus – I see a scary flashback from 1990’s and making me cringe with the prospect of a “Clinton third term”… talk about a flop; Why oh why would you want the world to see Bill on one side of you, and Madeline Albreight on the other?

Another day, another poll: Missouri – Huckabee 45% Clinton 43%

Rasmussen Reports – Tuesday 12/18

Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee has a slight edge over leading Democrats in the race for Missouri’s Electoral College Votes. Not only that, he runs a bit stronger than former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani when matched against those same Democrats.

The latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey finds Huckabee with a 45% to 43% advantage over New York Senator Hillary Clinton. Huckabee also leads Illinois Senator Barack Obama 45% to 41%.

While Huckabee has a slight advantage over the Democrats, another Republican hopeful finds himself at a slight disadvantage. Giuliani now trails Clinton by six points, 45% to 39%. In October, Missouri voters gave Giuliani a narrow lead over Clinton.

Giuliani now lags Obama by just a single percentage point after leading Obama by five in October.

Huckabee is viewed favorably by 53% of Missouri voters and unfavorably by 36%. Obama is viewed favorably by 52%, Clinton by 51%, and Giuliani by 45%.

Reflecting the apparently greater fluidity of the GOP contest, just 27% say Rudy Giuliani is most likely to win the GOP nomination, 21% say Huckabee, 13% say Romney. (Rasmussen Reports has outlined how each of five leading GOP candidates could plausibly wind his way to the nomination.) But 50% believe Hillary Clinton is most likely to win the Democratic nomination, and 26% name Barack Obama. Garnering only 8% of the votes of confidence is Senator John Edwards.

Read the whole poll results RIGHT HERE

Clinton Leads Anti Candidate Presidential Poll

Here’s an interesting poll: 1,000 adults were asked who, if they could, vote AGAINST a presidential candidate: Sixty-four percent of Republicans said they would vote AGAINST Hillary Clinton. Of that, more than 1/2 were men under 40.

Who’s the Democratic anti-vote? Thirty percent of Democrats would vote against Rudy Giuliani.

Here’s the NEWSMAX story

Thanks Bill, kee up the good work: Bill Clinton clashes with Hillary’s advisers

It’s music to my ears. The more William Clinton intervenes on his wife’s behalf, the more people are turned off. For that I say: Bill – keep up the good work, he, he…

That is my talking memo. Now for the story:

Bill Clinton has finally succumbed to temptation and intervened personally to salvage his wife’s faltering bid for the White House, according to leaks from her secretive campaign team.

The exasperated former President has clashed with some of Hillary Clinton’s closest advisors over strategy, after their recent attacks on Barack Obama, her main rival for the Democratic nomination, backfired.

He is said to be increasingly impatient that a series of campaign blunders is undermining her once comfortable lead in the opinion polls.

The consummate campaigner, who had previously been kept away from daily campaign operations, earned the “Comeback Kid” tag when he resurrected his own struggling White House run in 1992. Now he is trying to pull off the same trick for his wife.

He went on the offensive on her behalf this weekend with his strongest attack yet on Mr Obama’s qualifications for office, and said that voters would be taking a “risk” if they chose him.

He is understood to be particularly frustrated that her chief strategist and polling guru, Mark Penn, chose to portray the former First Lady as the “inevitable” and “invincible” nominee – a strategy that Mr Clinton believes has failed to sell her merits as a candidate.

Indeed, in the frank new television interview, he said it would now be a “miracle” if she won the key first caucus state of Iowa as he attempts to re-position her in voters’ minds as a challenger, rather than running like an incumbent.

Mrs Clinton was forced to deny her White House run was in disarray on Friday when asked about the reports of campaign turmoil.

During the early months of the campaign, her aides had sought to keep her husband at arm’s length, aware of his popularity but fearful that he would overshadow her.

“Campaigning is in Bill’s blood but while the polls were looking good, he was able to hold himself in check,” a Democratic strategist who is in close contact with the Clinton camp told The Sunday Telegraph.

“But that’s all changed as the campaign has veered badly off course. He’s talking with her constantly and throwing out ideas about how to save this thing. He’s still convinced she can win, but it’s going to be tough.”

The latest opinion polls show Mr Obama extending his lead in the key first caucus state of Iowa and catching Mrs Clinton in New Hampshire, where she has previously enjoyed a comfortable advantage in the next state to vote.

Although Mr Obama continues to trail in national polls, the momentum from the early states often proves crucial in the nomination process – as it did for Mr Clinton in 1992.

In the latest embarrassing setback for Mrs Clinton, she apologised personally to Mr Obama after a senior campaign official argued that his long-standing admission of teenage drug use could be used against him in a head-to-head with the Republicans.

The Clintons are understood to have discussed an overhaul of her top campaign personnel last week but they decided that would give off the feeling of panic.

But the former president is behind the new mantra that Mrs Clinton is an “agent for change” as the campaign switches its emphasis away from previous efforts to portray an aura of invincibility and entitlement.

His latest public intervention also drove home the danger that his greater involvement in his wife’s campaign might draw attention to him rather than her.

Read the rest right here

Poll: Clinton’s lead vanishes in New Hampshire

WASHINGTON (CNN) — Democrat Hillary Clinton has lost her once-comfortable lead over rival Barack Obama in the crucial primary state of New Hampshire, according to a poll released Friday.

In the new poll conducted by the Concord Monitor, Obama surpasses the New York senator by 1 percentage point: 32 percent to 31 percent. Meanwhile, John Edwards comes in a distant third with 15 percent support among likely Democratic voters, while Bill Richardson is fourth with 7 percent.

Speaking to reporters in Iowa Friday, Clinton commented on several recent polls both in Iowa and New Hampshire that show she is tied with Obama.

“I guess I’ve been in enough campaigns over a lot of years to know that there is no predictability and there certainly is no inevitability,” she said. “You have to get out and work for every single vote. That’s what I have always done. I don’t know any other way to do it.”

Meanwhile, at a separate event in Iowa, Obama commented on his rise in the polls, saying, “people are receptive to this message of change.”

“I am confident in my ability to lead this country,” he said. “And increasingly we are doing well. Not just here in Iowa but across the country.”

Obama’s chances of success in the Granite State will likely hinge on how many independents show up at the polls. Unlike many states, New Hampshire allows unaffiliated voters to vote in either the Republican primary or the Democratic primary — an allowance that often can give a boost to candidates who are viewed as outside their party establishment.

Of independent voters who are likely to vote in the Democratic primary, the poll shows Obama has a wide lead over Clinton, 40 percent to 23 percent. Meanwhile Clinton holds the lead over Obama when it comes to registered Democrats in the state, 36 percent to 27 percent.

The poll also shows Obama is making inroads with women in the Granite State. The Illinois senator now edges out Clinton in that demographic, 34 percent to 32 percent.

The poll carries a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

Aaah HILLARY THE LIAR… let’s take a trip down memory lane, shall we??

Great read by National Journal’s Stuart Taylor.

Here’s a sample of what’s in the article: But her statements were contradicted by evidence

This person wants to be President?

(Text highlights are my own)

Hillary Rodham Clinton is supposed to be smart. But how smart is it for a woman with such a bad reputation for truthfulness and veracity to put those character traits at the center of the campaign?

The irony of her potshots at Barack Obama‘s character has hardly gone unnoticed. Nor has the idiocy of her December 2 press release breathlessly revealing that “in kindergarten, Senator Obama wrote an essay titled ‘I Want to Become President.’ ” (Emphasis added.) This, the Clinton release explained, gives the lie to Obama’s claim that he is “not running to fulfill some long-held plans” to become president. Hillary was not, it appears, joking.

At a campaign stop the same day, Clinton added: “I have been, for months, on the receiving end of rather consistent attacks. Well, now the fun part starts.” Indeed.

I will not excavate Clinton’s own kindergarten confessions. Nor will I compare the honesty quotient of her campaign-trail spin with the dreadful drivel dutifully uttered by Obama and other candidates to pander to their fevered primary electorates.

Instead, let’s take a trip down memory lane — from the tawdriness of the 1992 presidential campaign through the mendacity of the ensuing years — to revisit a sampling of why so many of us came to think that Hillary’s first instinct when in an embarrassing spot is to lie.

Gennifer and Monica. Former lounge singer Gennifer Flowers surfaced in early 1992 with claims — corroborated by tapes of phone calls — that she had had a long affair with then-Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton, who had arranged a state job for her. Bill Clinton told the media, falsely, that the woman’s “story is untrue.”

Although well aware of her husband’s philandering history, Hillary backed his squishy denials, famously asserting on “60 Minutes” that she was not “some little woman standing by her man like Tammy Wynette.” More deceptively, she suggested to ABC’s Sam Donaldson that Bill’s contacts with Flowers were just an example of how he loved to “help people who are in trouble” and “listen to their problems.”

“Hillary’s words uncannily foreshadowed her insistence six years later to … a White House aide that Bill had ‘ministered’ to [Monica] Lewinsky because she was a troubled young woman,” Sally Bedell Smith writes in her fine new book about the Clintons, For Love of Politics. Hillary has continued to insist that she believed what she said about Lewinsky. But friends and former aides have told Smith and others that she knew her husband was lying all along.

Travelgate. The first Clinton scandal after Bill became president started in May 1993, when Chief of Staff Mack McLarty fired the seven employees in the White House office that arranges travel for the press corps. The White House cited gross financial mismanagement. (The charge was never substantiated.) The sudden firings created a media uproar, especially when the dismissed employees were quickly replaced by friends and relatives of the Clintons.

(…what?? I DEMAND an investigation.  Oops – I forgot. that’s only if its GOP administrations; sorry. I forgot our Democratic congress likes to ignore the Clinton Mafia family shenannigans) 

Hillary later told the General Accounting Office, in a document prepared by her attorney, that she had no role in the decision to fire the employees, did not know the “origin of the decision,” and “did not direct that any action be taken by anyone” other than keeping her informed.

But her statements were contradicted by evidence, including a long-concealed memo to McLarty and a written chronology prepared by White House aide David Watkins that came to light years later. Hillary, Watkins wrote, had said that “we need those people out and we need our people in” and had made it clear that “there would be hell to pay” unless she got “immediate action.” Another aide wrote that Hillary intimate Susan Thomases had said, “Hillary wants these people fired.”

While saying that no provable crime had been committed, Robert Ray, who had succeeded Kenneth Starr as independent counsel, reported in October 2000 that Hillary’s statements had been “factually false” and that there was “overwhelming evidence that she in fact did have a role in the decision to fire the employees.”

Cattle futures. The New York Times revealed in March 1994 that in 1978, just before her husband became governor, Hillary had made a $100,000 profit on a $1,000 investment in highly speculative cattle-futures contracts in only nine months. Hillary’s first explanation (through aides) of this extraordinary windfall was that she had made the investment after “reading The Wall Street Journal” and placed all the trades herself after seeking advice from “numerous people.” It was so preposterous that she soon had to abandon it. Eventually, she had to admit that longtime Clinton friend James Blair had executed 30 of her 32 trades directly with an Arkansas broker.

In an April 1994 press conference, Hillary denied knowing of “any favorable treatment” by Blair. But the astronomical odds against any financial novice making a 10,000 percent profit without the game being rigged led many to believe that Blair, the outside counsel to Arkansas-based poultry giant Tyson Foods, must have put only profitable trades in Hillary’s account and absorbed her losses. The heavily regulated Tyson needed friends in high places, and Bill Clinton helped it pass a 1983 state law raising weight limits on chicken trucks.

Removal of Vince Foster documents. During the same press conference, Hillary was asked why her then-chief of staff, Maggie Williams, had been involved in removing documents from the office of Deputy White House Counsel Vince Foster after his suicide. Foster had been a partner of Hillary’s at the Rose Law Firm in Little Rock, Ark. “I don’t know that she did remove any documents,” Hillary said. But it was reported three months later that Hillary had instructed Williams to remove the Foster documents to the White House residence. Then they were turned over to Clinton attorney Bob Barnett.

Castle Grande. In the summer of 1995, the Resolution Trust Corp. reported that Hillary had been one of 11 Rose Law Firm lawyers who had done work in the mid-1980s on an Arkansas real estate development, widely known as Castle Grande, promoted by James McDougal and Seth Ward. McDougal headed a troubled thrift, Madison Guaranty Savings & Loan, and had given Hillary legal business as a favor to Bill. McDougal and his wife, Susan, were the Clintons’ partners in their Whitewater real estate investment. Ward was father-in-law to Webb Hubbell, another former Rose Law Firm partner, who was briefly Clinton’s associate attorney general in 1993. Later, Hubbell went to prison for fraud, as did James McDougal.

Castle Grande was a sewer of sham transactions, some used to funnel cash into Madison Guaranty. Castle Grande’s ultimate collapse contributed to that of the thrift, which cost taxpayers millions. Hillary told federal investigators that she knew nothing about Castle Grande. When it turned out that more than 30 of her 60 hours of legal work for Madison Guaranty involved Castle Grande, she said she had known the project under a different name. A 1996 Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. report said that she had drafted documents that Castle Grande used to “deceive federal bank examiners.”

Prosecutors later came to believe that Hillary had padded her bills; she “wasn’t guilty of [knowingly] facilitating nefarious transactions — she was guilty of doing less work than she took credit for,” Jeff Gerth and Don Van Natta Jr. explain in their 2007 biography, Her Way. Hillary herself never took refuge in this explanation.

Billing records. Hillary’s billing records for Castle Grande were in a 116-page, 5-inch-thick computer printout that came to light under mysterious circumstances on January 4, 1996 — 19 months after Starr’s investigators had subpoenaed it and amid prosecutorial pressure on Clinton aides who had been strikingly forgetful. For most of that time, Hillary claimed that the billing records had vanished. But a longtime Hillary assistant named Carolyn Huber later admitted coming across the printout in August 1995 on a table in a storage area next to Hillary’s office; Huber said she had put it into a box in her own office, without realizing for five more months that these were the subpoenaed billing records.

This implausible tale, on top of other deceptions, prompted New York Times columnist William Safire to write on January 8, 1996, that “our first lady … is a congenital liar.”

The next day, the White House press secretary said that the president wanted to punch Safire in the nose for insulting his wife. Five days later, the president invited Monica Lewinsky to the Oval Office for what turned out to be one of their 10 oral-sex sessions. Two years and 13 days after that, Hillary was on the “Today” show suggesting that her husband’s Lewinsky affair was a lie concocted by “this vast right-wing conspiracy.”

And now she is citing Barack Obama’s supposed kindergarten “essay” as evidence of dishonesty. Astonishing.

— Stuart Taylor Jr. is a senior writer and columnist for National Journal magazine, where “Opening Argument” appears. His e-mail address is staylor@nationaljournal.com.