Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Say What? RNC Attacks Hillary

By Stuart Rothenberg

From a January 30, 2007 Republican National Committee Research Briefing about Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton entitled, "Hillary Swipes John Edwards' 2003 Language and Ideas…."

First, the RNC charged that Senator Clinton stole Edwards' story about his father, presenting the following evidence:

Hillary In 2007: "[My father] believed in the basic bargain that America offered. You work hard, play by the rules, you do what you can to further your own life. Your country is going to be on your side." (Sen. Clinton, Town Hall, Des Moines, IA, 1/27/07)

Edwards In 2003: "My father worked very hard because he believed it was the right thing to do, and he thought it would help build a better future for his family. That's the basic bargain that we make with the American people. If you work hard, if you act responsibly, you can build a better life for yourself and for your families." (Sen. Edwards, Democrat Presidential Forum, Des Moines, IA, 5/17/03)

Second, the RNC claimed Clinton stole Edwards' plan to insure all children, presenting the following evidence:

Hillary In 2007: "So I am going to start by introducing legislation to insure every child. That is what I think we have to begin with." (Sen. Clinton, Town Hall, Des Moines, IA, 1/27/07)

Edwards In 2003: "So I start with a very simple idea: children first. For the first time in American history, I will make sure that every child is covered ..." (Sen. Edwards, Democrat Presidential Debate, Albuquerque, NM, 9/4/03)

And third, the RNC asserted that "Clinton Stole Kerry's 2003 Language on Use of Force Vote" because Clinton advisor McAuliffe said: "She voted to give the President the authority to negotiate and have a stick to go over there and negotiate with Saddam Hussein. In 2003, John Kerry said: "I voted to threaten the use of force to make Saddam Hussein comply with the resolutions of the United Nations."

My view? It's certainly fair for each national committee to try to discredit the opposing party's Presidential hopefuls, but this RNC attempt isn't even close. In using words like "swipes," "steals" and "stole," the RNC seems to be accusing Senator Clinton of plagiarism in an effort to discredit her.

In fact, her language was not identical to Edwards's. Does the RNC really believe that because Edwards talked about insuring children Senator Clinton can't without "stealing" from him? And didn't Hillary Clinton establish her interest in making health care more available even before Edwards ever got to the Senate?

As to Clinton's reference to working hard and to her father, if I had a dollar for every candidate who cited his or her father and talked about "working hard" or "playing by the rules," I'd be wealthy. Everybody does it. It's a generic political message.

As to McAuliffe's recent language about Clinton's vote, it's silly to attack the Senator for something a supporter said. And, in fact, Kerry's 2003 comment and McAuliffe's are not even close to being identical. The fact the Kerry and Clinton may have had the same reason for supporting the resolution is proof of nothing. Look at the language of Republicans who announced their support of the President's policy for the past two years. They all said the same things, and that doesn't mean that they "stole" their reasoning from one another.

There is plenty of substance that the RNC could say about Senator Clinton in criticizing her. But this release was just silly. Somebody should say so. I just did.