Washington Prowler

Clinton and the Weasels

The Democratic International in full swing. Plus: John Edwards' Burred vision. Also: California GOP won't need muscle to pound Boxer.

By 4.18.03

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AMONG THE BUSH RESENTERS
In his public and private speeches, former President Bill Clinton has been going out of his way to bash the Bush Administration's Iraq policy and foreign policy generally. In a most recent address, he belittled the current administration's foreign relations as belligerent, intolerant, and shortsighted. If that sounds a lot like the French and German lines, it's because Messrs. Jacques Chirac and Gerhard Schroeder have probably been getting them from Clinton. Both foreign leaders have stayed in touch with Clinton and, according to a current Clinton aide, have talked to the ex-prez about how to handle President Bush and his foreign policy team.

Whatever guidance Clinton has been giving them hasn't exactly panned out. But the lines of communication remain open. Certainly that's what Democrats on Capitol Hill are hoping. According to a Senate Democratic staffer, Sen. Tom Daschle and others on the leadership team have discussed whether it might not be worthwhile to have Clinton serve as an intermediary between them and like-minded Bush resenters overseas.

"The assumption is that Chirac and Schroeder and Putin are going to have to deal with Bush on other issues over the next year, and that there will be times to put Bush in a bad light," says the Democratic staffer. "It's in everyone's interest to see Bush taken down a notch, all the better if it's on an international stage. It helps us and it helps Chirac and his crowd."

Clinton has not been approached, and it's not clear that he would be receptive. "It's the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard," said the Clinton staffer.

THE BURR IN JOHNNY'S SIDE
Sen. John Edwards remains a popular political figure in North Carolina, but the Tarheel state loves its Republicans too. And while Edwards appears prepared to run for re-election if his presidential aspirations don't pan out, he may be in for a more serious challenge than he expected six months ago when he committed all of his energies to the Democratic presidential nomination.

Republican Rep. Richard Burr, Karl Rove's handpicked candidate to challenge Edwards, or whoever may fill the Democratic Senate slot, has already been highly successful in his fundraising, raising more than a million in the latest reporting cycle. But the cash isn't what is surprising, it's where the cash is coming from: Democrats. In the northern part of the state, where Democrats tend to lean to the conservative side, Burr is pulling in cash and has even been able to get Democratic fundraisers once loyal to Edwards to make introductions for him.

"We're beating him in his own backyard," says a Burr staffer on Capitol Hill. "We don't doubt that Edwards will be getting money from these people, but some of them are also giving money to us. And we're getting it at a time when it's helping us establish our name early in the campaign."

CALIFORNIA MUSCLE
Rumors were flying on Capitol Hill earlier this week that Sen. George Allen had persuaded Hollywood muscleman Arnold Schwarzenegger to run for the Senate against Sen. Barbara Boxer. The two met after the actor spent time with Karl Rove, presumably talking about his political future in California.

But word out of California is that Allen and Rove already have spoken to former California governor and senator Pete Wilson about running again for the seat. "For the good of the party, he'd do it," says a longtime Wilson aide and adviser. "It would put him back into the political game in a big way."

Wilson has kept a low profile since his short-lived 1996 presidential bid. But he remains one of the most popular politicians in California, as well as one of the best known. Better yet, he's probably more than likely to match the fundraising of Boxer and force the Democratic Party to funnel money into the state, taking cash away from other races.

Current generic polls in the state show that fewer than 45 percent of voters would support Boxer's re-election. In fact, President Bush right now would defeat any Democratic challenger in the state going head to head.

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