RUSH TO ANNOUNCEMENT
Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton was not prepared to make her announcement that she was running for the Democrat nomination for the presidency, but the campaign of Barack Hussein Obama threw her plans out the window, say senior Clinton advisers in Washington and New York.
"The plan was for February or March, not now, but Obama's move kind of forced our hand a bit earlier than we expected," says one New York-based source. "We had everything in place, he just made us move a little faster than we really wanted to."
Obama's decision could not have been a surprise to anyone. Longtime advisers and campaign consultants who could have committed to other prospective presidential candidates months ago had taken passes in order to work for him. The writing was on the wall.
"But we've had a plan and a calendar in place for her [Clinton] for close to a year. That calendar remains largely in tact. The difference is instead of some parts of the roll out beginning in mid-February, they are being rolled out in late January," says a Washington-based Clinton backer.
Obama's presence has also thrown the presidential aspirations of former Sen. John Edwards into a tizzy. Edwards has banked -- literally -- his hopes on the backing of big labor. But with Obama and his labor ties in Chicago and with Clinton coming out earlier, Edwards' hopes of building up some cash sooner rather than later have been put in doubt. "The field is suddenly a lot more crowded than we thought it would be at this time," says an Edwards fundraiser. "I'm just one, but I'm having problems getting the number of commitments I thought I'd have because of Obama and now [Bill] Richardson in the race so much earlier than we thought."
All of which sounds like a pretty thin gruel of an excuse for a leftover candidate with a light resume second only to that of the man who stole his thunder last week. The reality is Obama and Clinton are both looking at fundraising models significantly different from Edwards' or Richardson's for that matter. Further, Edwards could have been fundraising for months before the announcements, but instead had to focus on burnishing his resume on foreign policy issues, something Obama was attempting to do at the same time.
What's more, talk of Obama's many rumored failings -- such as last week's rumor that Obama was raised a Muslim, -- isn't coming from Clinton people so much as it from Edwards surrogates, making it clear that Obama right now strategically is viewed as a greater threat to Edwards than to Clinton.
The next big question: What role does former president Bill Clinton expect to play moving forward, and how will Senator Clinton address his role and anticipated role in a female Clinton Administration?
According to insiders, anyone who takes on the most senior title within a Clinton for President organization will answer to both Clintons on matters of politics and policy. "It's understood that there are two bosses in this campaign, and then there is everyone else," says a longtime Clinton adviser.
The same source says that no one is looking so far ahead as to what roles people might have in a Clinton II administration, but that everyone expects Bill Clinton to have some type of semi-official role inside the West Wing, and possibly on the diplomatic front.
It's expected that in the coming weeks the House Government Oversight Committee, led by Rep. Henry Waxman, will begin aggressively issuing subpoenas for the many investigations and witch hunts he plans to perpetrate.
One interesting note: Waxman has decided not to allow any Republican staff, including the committee's minority legal counsel, in any depositions or interviews his committee staff holds. This is a break in longstanding tradition: even in the darkest days of the Clinton impeachment process, House and Senate Republicans allowed Democrat attorneys and senior staff access to depositions and interviews.
POGO SHARPENS ITS SHTICK
Last week, the Project for Governmental Oversight (POGO) held one of its ongoing seminars in the Russell Senate Office Building, training Democrat staff on how to conduct "effective oversight and investigations." The monthly programs, which began in September, took on greater significance after the Democrat victories in November.
The program is funded via the Ford Foundation, interesting given the corporate roots of the organization and the fact that one of POGO's biggest targets in the sessions is corporate America.
POGO is one of the most active left-wing organizations in pushing congressional investigations. It has encouraged and enabled show-trial oversight hearings for years, most recently focused on the Bush Administration's conduct of the war in Iraq, and its environmental policy, particularly through investigation of the Interior Department.
POGO describes the sessions as: "A combination of hands-on training and exercises, mock hearings, case reviews, and lessons from some of the nation's most well-regarded congressional oversight experts, government insiders (or whistleblowers), investigative journalists, current and former Inspectors General, Government Accountability Office staff, and current and former Congressional staff....Future topics include How to Prepare for an Oversight Hearing, Handling Classified Information, Working with Government Insiders and Whistleblowers, and Investigating the Internal Revenue Service."
While POGO barred non-congressional staff from attending the sessions, it did encourage a number of reporters to attend as participants in the seminar, not as observers. They attended with the understanding that it was entirely off the record and as a "source development and networking tool" for them to use in covering future investigative hearings, according to one reporter who attended the session.
Reporters from the New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Boston Globe, and the Associated Press were encouraged to attend. Reporters from other news services and papers were denied access.
In fact, James Grimaldi, an investigative journalist for the Washington Post who covered the Abramoff scandal, participated as a "facilitator" for a prior POGO event.
Almost all of the participants and attendees to the programs are Democrat or aligned with Democrats. POGO staff point to participation by staffers from the Grassley, Snowe, and McCain offices, but those staffers were well-known cooperators with Democrats on oversight investigations.
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