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Insider Report: Warning: Hillary Can Win the Presidency

Monday, 08 August 2005 12:00 AM

1. Warning: Hillary Can Win the Presidency

A new report from a top financial services company has a warning for those who dismiss Hillary Clinton's chances of gaining the White House: Underestimate her at your own peril.

"We're not making a flat prediction, but a plausible case can be made that she will become president on Jan. 20, 2009," writes Greg Valliere, chief political strategist with the Stanford Group Company, a research group.

Here's Valliere's year-by-year scenario.

Her 2005 plan: Keep moving toward the center on national security and social issues. A litmus test will be the senator's vote on the John Roberts nomination – if she votes to confirm the Supreme Court nominee, it would be a sure sign that she plans to run.

Her 2006 plan: Pull out all the stops for a landslide win in her Senate re-election bid. "Will any Republican of note be suicidal enough to take her on? We doubt it," the report states.

Her 2007 plan: Raise tons of money. Clinton and her husband have access to tens of millions of dollars in campaign funding from a range of party activists. "She'll probably set a record for the most money raised by any candidate for a nomination – and in the process will scare off most serious challengers."

Her 2008 plan: Wrap up the nomination by early March, then watch a furious fight between mainstream Republicans and the religious right. If Sen. John McCain's campaign gains steam, it could send "horrified" religious conservatives to the sidelines.

"Therein lies the heart of our analysis that Sen. Clinton could win the presidency: If McCain or another mainstream Republican wins the nomination, the religious right – so crucial in providing votes for George W. Bush – may sit at home," Valliere writes.

When it comes to the general election, the report points out that if Clinton were to win all the states that Sen. John Kerry won last year, she would already have 252 of the 270 electoral votes needed to win.

She could then win the election by taking one big state that Bush won in 2004, such as Ohio or Florida, or a combination of several smaller states that Bush carried.

The report concludes: "Hillary is too polarizing to win, you say? People said that about her husband but he won twice."

But the report also predicts that even if Clinton gains the White House, both houses of Congress are likely to remain under Republican control, which means "any activism by a President Hillary Clinton would be blunted by gridlock."

Hillary Clinton has amassed a $12.6 million war chest for her campaign for re-election to the Senate next year – and a large chunk of that money has come from Bush Country: Texas.

Clinton's latest campaign reports, filed on July 15 with the Federal Election Commission, became public on July 28 and show that her second-quarter contributions totaled $6,108,413.

More than $5.8 million of that came from individuals – 65,691 of them in all.

The largest amount came from contributors in New York, $1.7 million. But surprisingly, the second largest amount came from a solidly Republican state, Texas -- $458,874. That's significantly more than the $311,900 Clinton received from the most populous blue state, California.

"Hillary has a mix of large and small contributors," Garry Mauro, an Austin lobbyist who has helped Clinton raise money in the Lone Star state, told New York's Village Voice.

Republicans in Texas hold all statewide offices, most of the state legislature and most of the congressional seats.

"The state's fire-engine-red atmosphere has left local Democrats out in the cold," according to the Voice.

"That may explain why they have become such generous supporters of the national party."

Most of the New York Senator's Texas money has come from a 36-hour, four-city campaign that Mauro organized in March.

Chinese are converting to Christianity at such a pace that Christians may already outnumber members of the Chinese Communist Party.

State-sanctioned Protestant and Catholic churches in China have as many as 35 million members, making Christianity the third most practiced religion in the nation after Buddhism and Taoism.

Islam ranks fourth.

But there is also a growing network of underground churches, and they are said to have up to 100 million members.

The number of Communist Party members in China is officially put at 70 million.

Both rural and urban Chinese are increasingly converting to Christianity.

"City people have real problems, and mental pain, that they can't resolve on their own," Xun Jinzhen, who preaches to customers at a beauty salon in Beijing, told the London Sunday Telegraph.

"So it's easy for us to convert these people to Christianity.

"In the countryside, people are richer than before, but they still have problems with their health and in family relationships. Then it's also very easy to bring them to Christianity."

Xun believes the growth of religion in China is a response to increased materialism that followed the economic reforms of Deng Xiaoping.

"We have very few people who believe in communism as a faith, so there's an emptiness in their hearts," he said.

Some of China's rulers see Christianity's emphasis on personal morality as a force for stability and are tolerant about its growth.

But others see Christians as a threat. The London-based Christian Solidarity Worldwide and other overseas groups say Christians are beaten regularly and one was killed in police custody, according to the Telegraph.

The converts to Christianity include several of the most prominent figures from the 1989 Tiananmen Square pro-democracy demonstrations, most of whom are now living in exile.

Two of them have been ordained as priests.

Another is Han Dongfang, who arrived in the U.S. in 1993 after nearly dying in a Chinese prison.

"I think human beings need something at a spiritual level," he said. "We don't want to believe we are coming from nowhere, going nowhere.

"When communism became this corrupted thing, which failed everybody, people still needed a belief. I think that's the reason for Christianity in China."

Highly placed sources at ABC headquarters in New York have told NewsMax that news chief David Westin has decided to hand the "World News Tonight" anchor chair to Charles Gibson if Peter Jennings doesn't return.

Gibson, currently the anchor of "Good Morning America" along with Diane Sawyer and Robin Roberts, has already agreed to take the job, say ABC sources.

The move is contingent on Jennings deciding not to return to "WNT," which he anchored for more than 20 years.

Jennings has been under treatment for lung cancer for several months. ABC has issued no updates on his health except to say that the company expects him to resume his on-air duties at some point in the future.

Since Jennings left the broadcast, both Gibson and Elizabeth Vargas have anchored "WNT."

Westin has said that arrangement "could not continue indefinitely." Now it seems he has decided on a succession plan.

If Gibson takes the "WNT" slot, the question arises as to who replaces him on "Good Morning America."

Insiders say "GMA" will likely take a new approach and go forward with no male anchor, leaving the desk to Diane Sawyer and Robin Roberts – at least temporarily.

In recent weeks ABC has occasionally tested the two-women anchor format, with mixed ratings.

The "WNT" and "GMA" developments are more problems for Westin, who has to contend with the departure of Ted Koppel in December.

"Nightline," like almost every show on the ABC News schedule, has seen a drop-off in viewers in recent months.

Not only is Koppel bailing out, but "Nightline," at least in its current format, is not expected to survive beyond early 2006.

Just who might replace Gibson and Koppel is now the guessing game on 66th Street.

"In the old days one might have tapped Howard Cosell, but he is not around any longer," mused one ABC staffer.

What's David Hartman doing these days?

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has fallen far short of the $50 million he predicted he would raise for the campaign to support his ballot initiatives in the state's November special election.

In the first half of this year, Schwarzenegger -- along with allies including the California Chamber of Commerce -- has raised only $19.6 million for the initiatives he has proposed, plus another $2.1 million for a possible 2006 re-election bid.

His main initiative fund had a $1.8 million deficit on June 30, and a fund created by his backers had a $1.4 shortfall, according to recent filings reported by the Los Angeles Times.

Schwarzenegger erased the deficit in July, according to aides. But Robin Swanson, spokeswoman for an opposition group allied with California unions, said the initial deficit "speaks volumes."

"Businesses don't support the governor's agenda. Once again his ego has far surpassed the reality," she added.

Meanwhile unions representing public school teachers and other civil servants have raised at least $20 million in the first half of the year for their campaign to defeat the governor's ballot initiatives.

Schwarzenegger called for the special election to push initiatives to make tenure more difficult to get for teachers, grant the governor more power over the state budget and change the way legislative boundaries are drawn. The ballot could include as many as eight initiatives in all.

The California Teachers Association has sought to collect $60 from each of its 335,000 members to battle the governor's tenure proposition and has already spent $15 million, much of it for TV ads attacking Schwarzenegger.

If the governor does choose to run for re-election in 2006, he'll likely be facing foes with well-stocked war chests, the recent filings also reveal.

Treasurer Phil Angelides has $16.8 million in the bank for a run for the Democratic nomination, and his main foe, Controller Steve Westly, has $18.2 million.

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1. Warning: Hillary Can Win the Presidency A new report from a top financial services company has a warning for those who dismiss Hillary Clinton's chances of gaining the White House: Underestimate her at your own peril. "We're not making a flat prediction, but a...
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Monday, 08 August 2005 12:00 AM
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