Politics

Bill Clinton still haunts Democrats

Halfway through an otherwise cordial debate, Delaware Sen. Joe Biden raised an issue generally left unspoken by the other Democratic candidates: Bill Clinton’s complicated legacy as president and how it might affect Hillary Clinton’s chances of winning her own election to the White House.

“There’s a lot of very good things that come with all the great things that President Clinton did, but there’s also a lot of the old stuff that comes back,” Biden said. “When I say old stuff, I’m referring to policy — policy.”

Dems won’t commit on ending war

The leading Democratic White House hopefuls conceded Wednesday night they cannot guarantee to pull all U.S. combat troops from Iraq by the end of the next presidential term in 2013.

“I think it’s hard to project four years from now,” said Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois in the opening moments of a campaign debate in the nation’s first primary state.

“It is very difficult to know what we’re going to be inheriting,” added Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York.

“I cannot make that commitment,” said former Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina.

It just wasn’t in the cards

In politics, as in poker, you’ve got to know when to hold ‘em and know when to fold ‘em.

That could explain why the William J. Clinton Presidential Center in Little Rock, Ark., has decided not to stock a new set of satirical playing cards that portray Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton as a less-than-flattering “ace of spades.”

The library’s gift shop has stocked California artist Peter Green’s “Politicards” for several years now. The 2004 edition still is a brisk seller, store manager Connie Fails reports.

Rudy explains shift on firearms

Rudy Giuliani, who sued firearms manufacturers and called for tough gun control as New York’s mayor, said Tuesday the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and a recent court ruling framed his current defense of a right to own guns.

“You have to look at all of these issues in light of the different concerns that now exist, which is terrorism, the terrorists’ war on us,” the Republican presidential contender told The Associated Press in an interview. He also mentioned immigration and border security.

Supremes will examine voter ID

A voter seeking to cast a ballot is first told to produce a photo ID. Is that intimidation or a prudent safeguard against election fraud?

The Supreme Court said Tuesday it intends to decide, stepping into a controversy that blends race, partisan politics and the Constitution.

Officially, the justices said they would consider a challenge to the constitutionality of an Indiana law. But several other states have enacted various forms of voter ID legislation in the past five years, and the court’s ruling could affect them, as well.

Edwards fouls his own nest

Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards, who made his fortune as a trial lawyer, says attorneys should have to show their medical malpractice cases have merit before filing them.

He also said attorneys with a history of frivolous suits should be barred from filing new cases.

Edwards’ proposal is similar to “certificates of merit” laws that have been adopted in several states in recent years. Those laws usually require that an independent doctor assert the validity of a malpractice case before it is filed.

Service union delays endorsement

The Service Employees International Union has postponed its presidential endorsement until next month, underscoring divisions within the powerful labor group over front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton, sentimental favorite John Edwards and latest star Barack Obama.

Each of the top-tier candidates has support within the 1.8-million member union that includes janitors, hotel workers and truck drivers. SEIU backing is one of the most important labor endorsements available, with the organization donating more than $25 million, mostly to Democratic candidates, since 1989.

Bricklayers back Hillary

The International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers endorsed Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton for president Monday, saying she had the best chance to win.

“Hillary Clinton has the strength and experience to deliver the change America needs,” union president John J. Flynn said. “After years of an administration that has turned its back on working families, we need a president whose priorities are our priorities.”

Flynn said the union’s executive council voted unanimously to endorse Clinton and that the New York senator was the clear winner in a poll of members.

Follow the money

Presidential campaigns are hoarding money for a coming advertising blitz — mostly in Iowa and New Hampshire — during the final three months of the year on airwaves already saturated with candidate commercials.

The candidates are in the midst of a last-minute fundraising push, eager to have significant amounts of cash on hand by Sunday, the end of the third quarter and a milestone for measuring financial strength.

Defamation dilutes discourse

While negative political advertising has been around since the beginning of the republic, MoveOn.org seems to have cut some new ground for meanness and ratcheted up the incivility level more than a notch or two, as if it weren’t high enough already. Probably not since Lyndon Johnson’s vicious attempt to portray Barry Goldwater as a threat to nuclear sanity has there been a more controversial attack on a public official than the one implying Gen. David Petraeus has betrayed the nation.