Her anger at Schumer, greater than it usually is for the publicity hungry pol, is the result of his decision to endorse New York state comptroller Carl McCall over former Clinton administration official Andrew Cuomo for the Democratic nomination to challenge Republican Gov. George Pataki. Depending on whom you speak to, the two New York senators either had an agreement to hold off on any endorsement (Clinton spin) or there was never an agreement about anything (Schumer spin).
“We’ve been following the lead of [DNC chief] Terry McAuliffe,” says the Clinton staffer. “That line has been, let the best Democrat win, then have the party support that winner completely. Look at the mess the White House and some congressional leaders have created by sticking their noses into the Republican primaries too early. You haven’t seen much of that on the Democratic side.”
But Schumer’s quick endorsement of McCall has certainly led to some problems, mostly for Clinton. Had she had her choice, she most likely would have also endorsed McCall, who insiders say has sought out advice from her husband on political and campaign matters. The Clinton and Cuomo camps have circled each other warily for years, and Hillary had no interest in endorsing her hubby’s ex-Cabinet member. “She wasn’t that thrilled about the guy before all this happened, she sure as hell doesn’t want to endorse him now, after Schumer’s stolen her thunder,” says the staffer. “She looks like an also-ran.”
“She’d look like a junior Senator, that’s the problem. But that is exactly what she is, whether she likes it or not” says a Schumer staffer in New York. “The boss had every right to make an endorsement. In many ways he is the senior Democratic leader for the state. He has always taken a role in state party doings, and he’s a friend of McCall’s. The endorsement was a perfectly natural thing to do.”
But the timing did seem a bit off. According to a Washington-based Schumer aide, the McCall endorsement last July 22 was intended to give Schumer get a bit of publicity back home at a time when Clinton was getting the bulk of the press. In the past month or so, her name has sprung up in rumors about her vice presidential viability, not to mention the glowing press she received for her speech at the Democratic Leadership Council conference held in Manhattan. “She’s been everywhere. She’s in demand for fundraisers, for party events,” says a Schumer aide in Washington. “It was probably time for the senator to step out and get some of the spotlight for himself. And it puts Clinton in a bit of a bind.”
It’s not clear what Clinton will do. One school of thought says she will not endorse McCall, but instead will wait for the primary to play out and then step forward and help the winner — expected to be McCall — fundraise. “He needs her a lot more than he needs Schumer. We’ll see who he brings up state with him when he campaigns,” says the New York Clinton aide.p>
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