Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton was eager, according to campaign aides, to attack former Sen. Fred Thompson for his remarks about Cuba being a state supporter of terrorists. “Our porous border is unable to distinguish between friend and foe. My feeling is that Cuban Americans share this concern,” Thompson said last week.
He further warned that a terrorist-backing Cuba matched with Hugo Chavez‘s desire to “go nuclear” in Venezuela would create additional security challenges for the United States.
Comparatively, a sober view, no? Not to Clinton. “Everyone is attacking Fred Thompson right now, because he’s the frontrunner. She wanted to slap him around a little bit, even if there wasn’t anything to slap him around over,” says a campaign aide.
So Clinton went out and said she was shocked that Thompson would lump members of the Cuban diaspora with terrorists, something Thompson did not do.
There’s a reason Clinton attempted to hit Thompson: her own record with Cubans is shoddy at best. Recall, that back during the Elian Gonzalez crisis, she went out and announced that Elian’s seizure — by goons sent in by her husband’s attorney general — ”was accomplished rapidly and without injury.”
“Yeah, we’ve got a problem with that statement and all the pictures of that scared little boy hiding in the closet with all of those automatic weapons in his face,” says the campaign adviser. “When we mentioned this to our policy guys, they didn’t care. We’re at a stage now where we have to attack Thompson, create an image in the public of who we want him to be, and then move on to lesser guys like Romney. It’s Giuliani who we’re not going to be beating up any time soon.”
GUEST STARRING ROLE
Despite the mythology that the John Edwards campaign is putting forward, Elizabeth Edwards did not “impulsively” call into MSNBC’s Hardball show hosted by former Democrat political operative Chris Matthews, to attack right-wing queen Ann Coulter.
After booking Coulter, MSNBC producers reached out to the Edwards campaign. “It was an easy decision,” says an MSNBC associate producer. “It was the idea of Coulter’s publisher to do it.”
The call was made to the Edwards campaign by an NBC — not MSNBC — producer, says a source familiar with the arrangement. “Mrs. Edwards was told what time we’d be calling, and what the questions would be leading into her call. Coulter may not have known that the deal was done, but we thought her publisher had told her about what was happening,” says the MSNBC source. “This was not Mrs. Edwards idea; it was a something hatched between her, the campaign and the publisher to promote her and Coulter’s book, nothing more.”
The decision by former Vice President Al Gore to cancel a trip to Taiwan to lecture the people there about global warming may have less to do with the cost of hot air on the environment and more to do with the value Gore places on his own hot air.
“It had far less to do with any political considerations, and everything to do with money,” says a former Gore staffer.
According to the former Gore aide, the Democratic Progressive Party, which was attempting to get Gore to travel to Taiwan, was balking at the VIP treatment Gore was demanding via his speakers bureau, the Harry Walker Agency. Gore was demanding first class travel and accommodations for himself, as well as first class accommodations for his entourage.
“It’s surprising that he’d be so focused on the money,” says a staffer for presidential candidate John Edwards. “When you hold tens of millions of stock options from Google and are already one of the wealthiest potential presidential candidates out there, who needs to worry about travel expenses?”
Democrat competitors are monitoring Gore’s financial portfolio, in part, because they believe that should he decide to run, Gore would use profits from his Google stock as seed money for a presidential campaign. Gore has been on an intensive weight loss regimen in the past six months, and has bragged to friends that he has lost close to 40 pounds.
THE SKY’S THE LIMIT
Word is that former Clinton State Department spokesman and current Christiane Amanpour mate Jamie Rubin will be leaving his gig as a talking head with Sky News, and return to U.S. politics. The Hillary Rodham Clinton presidential campaign has been negotiating with the communicator for some time, and word has it that he’s already been informally assisting the campaign on messaging and policy.
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