Washington Prowler

NARAL Pro-Choice Obama

Hillary jilted. Kamala courted. Plus: Is Huckabee a team player? McCain and Dobson.

By 5.19.08

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KAMALA OVER HILLARY
One reason that the national board of NARAL, the pro-abortion lobbying organization, endorsed Sen. Barack Obama, and encouraged its state membership to do the same, was a series of behind the scenes conversations between the Obama campaign and NARAL.

"The message was, get on board or risk losing influence," says an Obama strategist. "We needed one of these [feminist or pro-abortion] groups to step up and walk away from Hillary. NARAL did it, and to its credit under great danger to its credibility with its membership."

NARAL has since been bombarded by its members with hate mail and threats of loss of donations for a perceived abandonment of Clinton. But as part of the conversation with NARAL, Obama advisers suggested that Obama was more likely to put in place key feminist and pro-abortion activists than Clinton. "The name that kept popping up was [San Francisco District Attorney] Kamala Harris. The campaign promised she'd become increasingly higher profile with Obama, and the women's groups love her," says another Obama strategist.

Harris is viewed as one of the most radical local elective office holders in the country, a district attorney who has refused to seek the death penalty even against cop-killers, and who has won high praise from the homosexual and pro-abortion lobbies that have strong bases in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Harris has been mentioned for high profile jobs in an Obama Administration, with some claiming she could be a dark-horse candidate for Attorney General. "She's smart, with not a lot of experience, but given where the Senate could be [with 60 Democrats], confirmation of someone this unqualified for that important a job wouldn't be far-fetched," says a San Francisco Democratic operative. "That's one reason why the campaign wants to give her a higher profile in the coming months, to test her."

SORRY MIKE
Talk inside the McCain campaign is that former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee isn't going to be given the high profile role in the general election campaign that he expected. "He's just not a team player and doesn't seem particularly committed to seeing John McCain win in November," says one McCain insider.

Before getting into the race himself, Huckabee famously told political supporters in Arkansas that he thought it would be a good thing for Hillary Clinton to win the presidency in 2008. On the campaign trail, Huckabee disputed that he'd made the remark, except one of the sources was one of Huckabee's ministers.

Huckabee, meanwhile, has turned down opportunities to serve as a surrogate for McCain, and instead is spending much of his time either auditioning for cable TV commentator gigs or attending fundraisers for House Republican candidates.

"Huckabee is more interested in laying the groundwork for his next campaign, not in seeing Republicans win the White House," says a House Republican. "He's looking to collect chits from us for down the road."

While the McCain campaign may have given up on Huckabee, it hasn't given up on reaching out to some of the higher profile evangelical Christian leaders, including Focus on the Family leader James Dobson.

McCain made of point of not currying favor with the evangelical community during the primary season, and now is doing what he can to tap into that important group for the general election. Dobson, according to McCain insiders, has been cool to the outreach, but not overtly dismissive.

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