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Insider Report: Roberts Key to Hillary's 2008 Plans

Sunday, 21 August 2005 12:00 AM

Hillary Clinton's vote on John Roberts' nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court could make or break her run for the White House in 2008, political pundits say.

A vote to confirm Roberts may help her win over moderates and swing voters – but it could also alienate more liberal Democrats and torpedo her chances of winning the primary.

"A vote for Roberts would be a very strong signal that she is trying to reconfigure herself as Bill Clinton did, as someone coming out of the right wing of the Democratic Party rather than the liberal wing," said Bruce Cain, director of the Institute for Governmental Studies at the University of California-Berkeley.

It could also help Clinton win votes in Republican strongholds when she runs for re-election to the U.S. Senate next year. And winning counties that she lost in 2000 may help convince primary voters in 2008 that she's not too liberal to win the presidency, according to Lee Miringoff, director of the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion.

"You get the clear sense that nationally she wants to project that there is a red state or two that she could gobble up if she were the candidate," Miringoff told Bloomberg.com.

On the other hand, if Hillary votes to confirm Roberts her primary opponents could argue that the vote is a betrayal of Democratic Party ideals.

"She potentially alienates some of the hard-cord partisans in the Democratic Party, and these are the people who are an enormous influence on the party nominating process," said Mark Rozell, professor of political science at George Mason University in Virginia.

Miringoff added that if Clinton votes for Roberts and he proves to be more conservative than anticipated, "her core voters might not be pleased with that."

Robert has drawn opposition from abortion-rights groups, and Clinton has long supported abortion rights. But in another sign she's moving toward the center, she seemed to be softening her stance on abortion in a speech to family planning providers earlier this year.

In the speech she expressed respect for those who "believe with all their hearts and conscience that there are no circumstances under which any abortion should ever be available," according to Bloomberg.com.

A recent Gallup poll found Clinton trailing two possible Republican nominees for president, Sen. John McCain and former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, 50 percent to 45 percent among registered voters.

Rush Limbaugh is taking a fun swipe at Sen. John McCain and his "Gang of 14" membership with a satirical ad saying McCain used "Rugout" – a spray that "pulls the rug out from under your friends."

The print "ad" on the back page of a recent edition of The Limbaugh Letter – Rush's must read newsletter -- shows the Arizona Republican wielding the "amazing new product," which "has been tested under real-life conditions – the Floor of the U.S. Senate."

Limbaugh's beef: The Republicans held a 55-to-45-vote majority in the Senate, and planned to change rules to prevent the Democrats from using a filibuster to block judicial nominees.

But seven Republicans – McCain prominent among them – joined seven Democrats in an agreement that ditched the rule change and brought a "worthless promise" from Democrats not to filibuster judges except in "extraordinary circumstances."

Writes Rush: "Rugout enabled the Gang of 14 Senators to sign a pact that effectively obstructed the majority."

What are these "extraordinary circumstances?" Limbaugh asked. "Thanks to Rugout, nobody has any idea."

 The current issue of NewsMax Magazine features an exclusive front-page report, "Inside McCain's Head," that offers an in-depth look at the enigmatic McCain – and tells why Limbaugh takes a dim view of a McCain run for the White House in 2008.

Continuing the spoof in the Limbaugh Letter, Rush says: "If Rugout can do that in the Senate, imagine what it can do in your house. Is your spouse nagging you to take out the garbage? Get the Rugout. Rugout will render her (or him, depending) immediately powerless."

Ten percent of all Rugout proceeds, Limbaugh jests, "will go to McCain 2008, McCain 2012, or McCain 2016."

But one caveat: Rugout is "only available in D.C."

Republican officials are excited about the prospect that TV talk show host Joe Scarborough could challenge Katherine Harris for the GOP nomination for the U.S. Senate. Scarborough is less than thrilled.

"I'm not eager to do it," the former congressman from Pensacola declared, saying the National Republican Senatorial Committee has urged him to get into the primary battle. "I'll listen, though."

The host of MSNBC's "Scarborough Country" met two weeks ago with NRSC chairwoman Elizabeth Dole (R-N.C.) and will meet with other Washington officials in the coming days "out of respect," he said.

As the Insider Report disclosed in July, Republican officials believe Rep. Harris can't defeat incumbent Democrat Bill Nelson and were urging House Speaker Allan Bense to run against Harris in the primary.

The "officials" who oppose a Harris run include Fla. Governor Jeb Bush and Karl Rove.

Polls show she runs very poorly among independents and draws virtually no support from Democrats.

Bense has decided not to challenge Harris, the former Florida secretary of state who certified George Bush's election win in 2000.

But other Republicans who have been wooed by the party to join the race include retired Gen. Tommy Franks, Florida Senate President Tom Lee and Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher, according to the Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

U.S. Rep. Mark Foley has also surfaced as a potential challenger to Harris, and he hasn't ruled out running.

Harris insists she's in the race to stay and would step aside only if Gov. Jeb Bush decided to run for the senate seat. Bush has already said he won't seek the post.

Scarborough will decide whether or not to run in the next few weeks, he said, explaining that he's reluctant to return to politics until his two sons are out of high school.

While Scarborough has great name recognition due to his TV show, observers say it might not be enough to overcome Harris' "rock star appeal for rank-and-file Republicans," the Herald-Tribune reports.

Harris is a favorite of the state's dominant GOP conservative wing and would be the clear front-runner in any primary contest.

Said political consultant David E. Johnson: "I'd still be betting on Katherine Harris."

Alan Greenspan might sometimes be accused of cooking the numbers on the economy, but he won't be cooking meals at home after his January retirement, according to his wife, NBC's chief foreign correspondent Andrea Mitchell.

In an interview with Time magazine, Mitchell was asked about her husband: "Once he's home all day, will he do the cooking?"

She answered: "He's leaving the Fed but certainly not retiring. I would be very surprised if he is home. He hasn't decided yet what he's going to do – I'm sure he'll do some writing – but I don't think cooking is high on his list.

"Not unless we plan to starve."

Mitchell also said that she and her husband "don't discuss his work. At times, it can be really frustrating. I'm a reporter. I want to know.

"Once, he came down to Little Rock to meet with the newly elected [President] Bill Clinton, and I was assigned to cover the transition there. I learned that he was in town from George Stephanopoulos' briefing."

And when asked if she had a pet name for Greenspan, Mitchell replied: "I can tell you it's not Mr. Chairman."

Talk abounded during last year's presidential campaign about Sen. John Kerry sounding out Sen. John McCain about joining him as his running mate.

Now there are rumors of another bipartisan ticket in 2008 – McCain for president and Kerry as his running mate.

"If such an improbable thing comes to pass, its genesis might well be traced back to a one-on-one breakfast meeting July 27, when the two decorated Vietnam veterans huddled for more than an hour at La Colline restaurant on Capitol Hill," reports the publication The Hill.

Kerry spokesman David Wade said the meeting was simply a chat between two "longtime friends."

But fellow diners said the pair was engaged in earnest conversation throughout the meal, according to The Hill.

The meeting came as McCain increasingly criticized President Bush's conduct of the war on terrorism, in particular the treatment of detainees at prison camps in Iraq and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

McCain spent years as a prisoner of war in North Vietnam – an ordeal chronicled in this month's issue of NewsMax Magazine, which features the exclusive report "Inside McCain's Head."

The Hill concludes: "Guess it's unlikely there will be a Swift Boat Veterans for Truth campaign if McCain and Kerry team up in 2008."

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Hillary Clinton's vote on John Roberts' nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court could make or break her run for the White House in 2008, political pundits say. A vote to confirm Roberts may help her win over moderates and swing voters - but it could also alienate more liberal...
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Sunday, 21 August 2005 12:00 AM
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