Thursday, October 25, 2007

Analysis: It's Clinton's race to lose...

By NEDRA PICKLER, Associated Press Writer Thu Oct 25, 6:38 PM ET

WASHINGTON - Memo to the Democratic presidential candidates: You can still beat Hillary Rodham Clinton, but you better act fast.

The former first lady looks more likely to win the nomination every day, showing strength in polling, fundraising and setting the campaign agenda.

She's so strong, in fact, that the race has become about her. And Democratic operatives from presidential campaigns past and present say the only way for any other candidate to win the nomination is to make an even stronger case against her.

"If this were a wedding, we'd be at the 'speak now or forever hold your peace' part," said Steve McMahon, who advised Howard Dean in 2004. "If you're a candidate hoping to get past her, the time for nuance and veiled references has passed."

There is always the chance that Clinton could make an error in the next couple of months that would hurt her chances. Some argue that her vote against Iran at a time when anti-war Democrats are concerned about war there has the potential to damage her standing.

But Democratic insiders, including some working on various 2008 campaigns who spoke on condition of anonymity, agree that barring a major stumble, Clinton is all but sure to win the nomination if she wins the opening contest in Iowa. She is polling well in the states that follow, and no one else would be able to challenge her unless an Iowa loss made her look vulnerable.

"If Hillary wins Iowa, she can practically start shopping for a running mate," said California-based Democratic strategist Dan Newman.

But that's a big if. Clinton has called Iowa her "hardest state," and it's the best — some say only — chance her opponents have to get past her.

"At this point the trailing candidates need to not only catch a huge wave, they also need one to crash on top of Hillary," Newman said. "They need to upend the conventional wisdom that is gelling among donors and others that she can't be stopped, and they need to prove it in Iowa."

The most recent polls in the state show a close race among Clinton and fellow Sens. John Edwards and Barack Obama.

Edwards has been making a more vigorous case recently against Clinton's ability to win a general election. He's also led criticisms of her that have been picked up by other candidates — that she's too connected to lobbyists and that her vote to declare the Iranian Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization could be a repeat of her mistake in voting for the Iraq war.

Those criticisms haven't hurt her yet, but they could as more people begin to pay closer attention in the closing days of the race. Some advise that the Clinton campaign should consider fighting back against Edwards or anyone else who takes her on so directly.

"While Edwards is attacking her as being unelectable, the GOP is also saying she is polarizing and out of the mainstream," said Donna Brazile, who ran Al Gore's campaign in 2000. "Time to deck them or push back."

Joe Biden and Chris Dodd have been more aggressively criticizing her on foreign policy. Obama says there needs to be a change away from Washington insiders while generally avoiding mention of her name.

And at a time when Obama needs to be winning voters away from Clinton, instead he's been playing defense. Just this week he's been under fire from gay activists who objected to a participant in his gospel concert series, and his campaign agreed to return some donations after The Washington Post reported that they came from children.

Most of those interviewed say Obama needs to get tougher on Clinton.

"I don't buy this `Politics of Hope' means you can't engage the next candidate," said strategist Jamal Simmons. "People want to be hopeful, but people want to know you are tough enough to win and you are tough enough to lead the country."

In comparison to Obama, Simmons said, "people are very clear what John Edwards is running for. He's there fighting for the working man and woman, and he's taking his shots. Even at some times he may seem to the outside world to be too strident and hitting it too hard. But he's hitting, and people respect that."

But some inside the Clinton and Obama camps think it would be a mistake for Obama to go on the attack in a multi-candidate race. They ask: Why not sit back and let Edwards and others try to take her down, while he tries to rise above?

"I think with name ID as high as Senator Clinton's, there is little new information about her that would change voter's minds," said Erik Smith, who worked for Dick Gephardt in 2004. "A candidate can move late in Iowa if making a strong case for themselves as the best candidate to win the general."

That happened in the last Iowa presidential primary. In 2004, Dean was the front-runner, and Gephardt went after him hard. Dean and Gephardt fell into third and fourth place respectively in the caucus, behind John Kerry and Edwards.

"Her opponents will have opportunities to slow her down, but the risks of doing what that will take come at a considerable risk," said Democratic consultant Michael Feldman, who works for Gore. He is not aligned with any campaign this election cycle, but has donated to Clinton. "Take Senator Obama, for example. It's hard to slash and burn when you have said that you want to move beyond negative campaigning. He runs a serious risk of undermining his brand."

And there's no indication it would work since she's done well with what's come at her so far. "There is no doubt that she will be tested, but she is running the kind of campaign that indicates her ability to roll through those inevitable challenges," Feldman said.


EDITOR'S NOTE — Nedra Pickler covers the Democratic presidential race for The Associated Press.

McCain Rejects Fox Request to Cease Ad

WASHINGTON (AP) — Republican John McCain on Thursday rejected a Fox News Channel request to stop airing a television ad that includes footage of the presidential candidate at a debate sponsored by the cable network.

In the ad, McCain is shown at the debate saying: "A few days ago, Senator Clinton tried to spend $1 million on the Woodstock concert museum."

"Now my friends, I wasn't there. I'm sure it was a cultural and pharmaceutical event," he says. "I was tied up at the time." It was a reference to the 5 1/2 years McCain spent in a North Vietnamese prison.

The Fox News logo is in the corner of the ad.

But Fox News bars candidates from using debate clips in ads, and officials there sent a cease and desist letter to McCain. McCain rejected the request, arguing that he is within the law's "fair use" rights to use an 18-second clip of a 90-minute debate.

The ad began running Thursday in New Hampshire and is slated to air during the pre-game of the World Series Game 2 between the Boston Red Sox and Colorado Rockies. The dispute isn't likely to be resolved before then.

Giuliani Now Leads Clinton in Florida, Poll Finds (Update1)

Giuliani Now Leads Clinton in Florida, Poll Finds (Update1)

By Nadine Elsibai

Oct. 25 (Bloomberg) -- Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani has taken the lead over Senator Hillary Clinton among Florida voters in a head-to-head match-up of the 2008 presidential candidates, a Quinnipiac University poll found.

Giuliani received 46 percent support compared with 43 percent for the New York senator, the exact reverse of the results in a similar poll two weeks ago. The gap is within the poll's 3.1 percentage point margin of error.

Giuliani, a Republican, and Clinton, a Democrat, are the respective frontrunners in surveys measuring their support in the race for each party's presidential nomination.

``Florida has swung back to give Mayor Giuliani a slight edge over Senator Clinton,'' said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. ``This has gone back and forth since the campaign began this year and reflects just how up for grabs Florida's electoral votes will be.''

Florida ranks fourth in the nation in electoral votes with 27, behind California, Texas and New York. George W. Bush defeated former Vice President Al Gore by 527 votes in Florida in 2000, giving him the presidency while losing the national popular vote.

The poll of 1,025 Florida voters by Hamden, Connecticut- based Quinnipiac University was conducted Oct. 17-22.

To contact the reporter on this story: Nadine Elsibai in Washington at .

Last Updated: October 25, 2007 12:14 EDT

Crime Bosses Considered Hit on Giuliani

Crime Bosses Considered Hit on GiulianiU.S. Attorney Rudolph W. Giuliani in 1987, with his prosecutors, John Savarese, Michael Chertoff and Gil Childers. (Photo: Mario Suriani/Associated Press)

In 1987, when Rudolph Giuliani was still the aggressive United States attorney in Manhattan, he came within single vote of having a contract put on his head by the leaders of the five New York organized crime families, according to an F.B.I. memo read in a Brooklyn courtroom yesterday.

“That was one vote I won I guess,” Mr. Giuliani said this morning on Mike Gallagher’s syndicated radio show.

The vote was taken during the famous “commission case” in which Mr. Giuliani and Michael Chertoff, who is now homeland security chief, prosecuted the five families as a single criminal enterprise.

The memo’s author, Roy Lindley DeVecchio, is a former F.B.I. supervisor now standing trial on charges that he helped his prize informant, Gregory Scarpa Sr., commit four murders in the 1980s and 1990s. Brooklyn prosecutors have accused Mr. DeVecchio of tipping Mr. Scarpa to arrests and to other F.B.I. cooperators. Mr. DeVecchio’s lawyers have entered the memo into evidence.

“On Sept. 17, 1987, source advised that recent information disclosed that approximately a year ago all five New York LCN families discussed the idea of killing USA Rudy Giuliani, and John Gotti and Carmine Persico were in favor of the hit. The bosses of the Luchese and Bonnano and Genovese families rejected the idea, despite strong efforts to convince them otherwise by Gotti and Persico,” the memo states, according to the office of Brooklyn District Attorney Charles J. Hynes.

On the radio this morning, Mr. Giuliani said he received a number of similar warnings over the years from the F.B.I.

“You get used to living with it,” he said, according to a transcript provided by his campaign. “You say to yourself ‘It’s worth doing what you are doing and it’s always a remote possibility.’”

Mr. Giuliani joked that when he was first United States attorney, a crime group put out a contract on his life for $800,000, but five years later another group set the price at $400,000.

“If I were a company, my market cap would have been cut in half,” he said.

It looks like the last laugh goes to Mr. Giuliani. Carmine Persico is serving life in federal prison, and John Gotti died in prison in 2002.

Teacher jailed, suspected of sex with teen student

Teacher jailed, suspected of sex with teen student
The Salt Lake Tribune

A Hurricane High School teacher was arrested Wednesday on suspicion of rape for allegedly having sex with one of her students. Hurricane police have accused 29-year-old Cris Lynn Morris of having sex with a male juvenile at least five times. Police did not say when or where the alleged encounters occurred, but said the student was too young to consent to the alleged sexual contact.
Morris was booked into the Washington County jail Wednesday. She was also placed on administrative leave, according to Washington County School District officials. - Jason Bergreen

Thompson Plays Down Staff Loss

MOUNT PLEASANT, S.C. (AP) — Republican Fred Thompson played down a staff member's departure and a New Hampshire supporter's defection Wednesday, saying it's not up to him to know what's going on at every level of his presidential campaign.

"This is a campaign with a lot of different moving parts and a lot of things going on simultaneously," Thompson said in an interview with The Associated Press.

The campaign recently lost Nelson Warfield, a political media strategist, and New Hampshire Republican Dan Hughes said he had switched to John McCain's team.

"You know, the campaign can address that. I can't really address who's doing — and who was doing — exactly what at every level of this campaign," Thompson said after speaking to about 300 people at a restaurant in South Carolina. "They're the ones who know what's going on on a daily basis. ... I'll let the experts speak on that."