Brownback details ‘hatred’ of Clintons

Sam Brownback says he harbored a “hatred” of Bill and Hillary Rodham Clinton until he experienced a religious awakening in the mid-1990s.

Brownback, a Republican presidential hopeful, details in a new book how the change in outlook led him to make a stunning apology to Hillary Clinton a few years later during a Senate prayer breakfast.

“I was considering what I should say when I confronted all the anger that I held for the Clintons,” the Kansas senator writes in the book, “From Power to Purpose: A Remarkable Journey of Faith and Compassion.”

“I thought, I hate them for what they are doing to the country and I feel justified in hating them for it,” he writes.

But Brownback says he realized there is never justification for hating someone regardless of their actions.

He told the prayer breakfast audience that he used to have a “hatred for Bill and Hillary” because of their politics. He spotted Sen. Clinton in the crowd and, speaking directly to her, said he “realized that those thoughts of hatred were wrong. I apologized to her for them. I don’t know what she thought, but I believe it made a difference.”

Religion permeates nearly every corner of Brownback’s book, written with Jim Nelson Black and officially slated for release July 3. His soul searching began in 1995, hastened by two dramatic events in his personal life. His marriage was in real trouble — he was “on track” to getting divorced — as he devoted all his energy to the conservative agenda that fueled the Republican takeover of the House in 1994.

Even more traumatic was his 1995 bout with cancer and surgery to remove malignant melanoma from his right side. Brownback says he finally found peace when he resolved to devote himself to God.

“One night I got down on my knees and said ‘OK, Lord, that’s it. I give up. It’s all Yours,'” Brownback writes.

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An example of Mitt Romney’s crisis management approach has turned into something of a political problem for the Republican presidential contender.

Romney placed his family dog, an Irish setter named Seamus, into a kennel lashed to the top of his station wagon for a 12-hour family trip from Boston to Ontario in 1983. Despite being shielded by a wind screen the former Massachusetts governor erected, Seamus expressed his discomfort with a diarrhea attack.

Now the story, recounted this week in a Boston Globe profile of Romney, has touched off howls of outrage from bloggers and animal rights activists even though it was presented in the story as an example of Romney’s coolness under trying circumstances.

When Romney’s eldest son, Tagg, and his four brothers complained about the brown runoff down the back windshield, their father quietly pulled the car over, borrowed a gas station hose and sprayed down both the dog and the kennel before returning to the road.

“Massachusetts animal cruelty laws specifically prohibit anyone from carrying an animal `in or upon a vehicle, or otherwise, in an unnecessarily cruel or inhuman manner or in a way and manner which might endanger the animal carried thereon,'” wrote Steve Benen in a post on the blog “Crooks and Liars.”

Ingrid Newkirk, president of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, told Time magazine’s “Swampland” blog: “If you wouldn’t strap your child to the roof of your car, you have no business doing that to the family dog!”

Romney dismissed any outcry about the 24-year-old incident, saying the dog enjoyed his rooftop perch.

“He scrambled up there every time we went on trips,” Romney said at a campaign stop in Pittsburgh Thursday. “He got it all by himself and enjoyed it.”

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Republican presidential hopeful John McCain, backer of an immigration bill, said Friday that its collapse in the Senate was a difficult experience.

The Arizona senator said he regrets lawmakers weren’t able to legalize millions of undocumented immigrants and fortify the border. McCain was in Chicago for fundraisers.

“It was a very tough and bruising experience and so I obviously regret we were unable to succeed, and I worry about the fact that we now have still the status quo,” McCain said. “Twelve million people in our country, we don’t know where they are and what they’re doing. So by blocking action we have now silent amnesty, and that’s unfortunate.”

Meanwhile, in Florida, the Republican Party chairman challenged those who opposed the bill to come up with a solution beyond just building a fence on the border.

“The voices of negativity now have a responsibility to come up with an answer,” Sen. Mel Martinez, R-Fla., said at a gathering of more than 1,000 Hispanic officials.

“How will you fix the situation to make peoples’ lives better? How will you continue to grow the economy? How will we bring people out of the shadows for our national security and for the sake of being a country that is just?” he asked.

Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., the lone Republican presidential candidate to attend the three-day conference, said the legislation won’t be revived.

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The host committee for the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver is still about $1.5 million short of a $7.5 million fundraising goal it set for June 1.

“We have $6 million in the bank. We have other donations committed. Now we’re just trying to decipher how much is in cash and how much is in-kind,” committee member Steve Farber said Friday.

Farber said he was confident the committee had enough donations.

The Democratic National Committee and the host committee hoped to raise $40 million in cash and $15 million in in-kind donations by June 2008, with a goal of raising $7.5 million by June 1, 2007.

The host committee missed that first goal by $2 million but has since closed the shortfall by $500,000. The convention is scheduled Aug. 25-28, 2008.

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New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg declared himself in “great health” on Friday and said his heart surgery years ago, which was not disclosed until this week, was so minor that he was out on the golf course soon after.

In his first public comments about the 2000 surgery, in which he had two coronary arterial stents installed to relieve blockage, the 65-year-old mayor brushed it off as a routine operation.

“It’s a very common thing, and I’m in great health and there are lots of people my age that have it,” Bloomberg told reporters. “My recollection is I went out and played golf the next day — it was that serious.”

The news surfaced this week as Bloomberg has been mentioned as a potential independent candidate for president.

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Associated Press writer Glen Johnson in Boston, Megan Reichgott in Chicago and Laura Wides-Munos in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., contributed to this report.