A conversation with Hillary Clinton

Sen. Hillary Clinton sees the human factor as topmost in confronting hemispheric trade and immigration issues.

In an exclusive interview with this correspondent the morning after she participated in the Univision-sponsored Democratic Party presidential primary debate here, Clinton took the opportunity to expand on these two issues of major interest to 49 million U.S. Hispanics and nearly 400 million more in some two dozen countries south of our border.

On the road in Iowa with ‘Dr. Vote’

Odds are, the next president of the United States already has come face-to-face with Iowa’s secret agent man – code name “Dr. Vote.”

John Olsen is a man of many disguises.

Sometimes he’s in a suit and tie. Or it could be a red, white and blue sweater. Often, he wears the T-shirts and campaign buttons of his favorite candidate (of that day anyway).

And with his ever-present back pack over his shoulder, he slips into campaign rallies with two sneaky missions.

MoveOn ad sparks debate, unease

A newspaper ad attacking Gen. David Patraeus leaves Republicans fuming and Democrats squirming.

The ad, produced and paid for by the liberal activist group MoveOn.Org calls Patraeus “General Betray Us” and leaves a sour taste in the mouths of both proponents and opponents of President George W. Bush’s failed war in Iraq.

Democrats worry that the ad will turn Americans against them because it attacks the man leading soldiers who are fighting in the field. Republicans see it as a chance to question the patriotism of opponents of the war.

Who are these people?

Back when Sen. Hillary Clinton was searching for a campaign song for her Presidential run she should have considered the Who’s Who Are You?

Not knowing, or at least claiming not to know, the backgrounds of some of the people who raise money for her campaign has, once again, bitten a Clinton in the butt.

So Hillary is returning $850,000 on campaign donations brought in by Norman Hsu, a criminal on the lam recently nabbed in Colorado.

Another black eye for Mitt Romney

Mitt Romney may claim to be a strait-laced Mormon who doesn’t get down and dirty in politics but that doesn’t stop him from surrounding himself with political tricksters.

First it was the longtime aide who posed a cop and pulled over a reporter following the candidate’s caravan. Then it was Larry Craig and his “wide stance” problem in the airport bathroom.

Now it’s a top adviser putting together an anti-Fred Thompson web site.

Dems agree on Irag & immigration

Democratic White House candidates embraced Hispanic concerns in the first ever Spanish-language presidential debate, unanimously promising to bring troops home from Iraq and to begin working on immigration in their first year in office.

On the eve of a war assessment by U.S. commanding Gen. David Petraeus, the presidential hopefuls said troops should begin coming home no matter what the report says. With the moderator of the debate noting that two-thirds of Hispanics want a withdrawal from Iraq, the candidates had an ideal audience to criticize the war.

Fred bashing and other political follies

Former Sen. Fred Thompson didn’t join the other eight Republican presidential contenders at a debate on Fox News this week.

But some people watched the commercials just as closely.

“Like the Super Bowl?” one campaign operative asked.

Not quite. But in the pre-game show, Thompson dropped his first, 30-second ad on the eve of his campaign kickoff.

Can we really trust Hillary Clinton?

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, who both fascinates and infuriates, has a new message in her determined quest to return to the White House, this time as president.

The new TV ad campaign, running in New Hampshire, the latest state she has adopted, trumpets the New York Democrat as the true agent of political change, although she has spent more time in the White House than any other U.S. presidential candidate except for Franklin Roosevelt.

Bagging the suckers

In the words of the patron saint of political consultants, there’s a sucker born every minute. In California it’ll cost you a couple of million to reach the suckers. But the consultants aren’t complaining.

For evidence, consider the likely initiative menu for next year’s three — count ‘em, three — elections. There’s the initiative, almost certain to make the February presidential primary ballot, that would replace the existing legislative term limits — six years in the Assembly, eight in the Senate — with a system limiting any legislator to a total of 12 years.

Among GOP, only Ron Paul opposes war

Republican presidential contenders voiced support for the Iraq war Wednesday night despite a warning from anti-war candidate Ron Paul that they risk dragging the party down to defeat in 2008.

“Even if we lose elections, we should not lose our honor,” shot back former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, “and that is more important than the Republican Party.”

Huckabee was in the majority, Paul very much in the minority on a University of New Hampshire debate stage when it came to the war. The politically unpopular conflict has emerged as the dominant issue of the 2008 race for the White House.