Hillary Clinton in The Battle for America 2008, by Balz and Johnson

On Civil Rights: Heads movement of women looking to America's true promise

A December 2007 memo entitled "Launch Strategy Thoughts" said, "Hillary occupies a completely different ground than past nominees. People see in Hillary Clinton someone who works hard to get results, someone who is tough enough to make decisions, someone who is smart enough and experienced enough to understand the complexities of the modern world and yet passionate enough to fight for causes she believes in. She also heads a movement of women looking to achieve the true promise of America--that a qualified woman could be president of this country."

He went on, "And we have to be careful not to fall into the trap of reliving the past--this election can't be about the old Clinton years, but about the future. Bush did not run on the record of his father, though he benefitted from the name and association. New Times, New Ideas, a New Clinton."

Source: The Battle for America 2008, by Balz & Johnson, p. 50 Aug 4, 2009

On Civil Rights: OpEd: "18 million cracks" meant "lingering sexism"

Her official exit on June 7 had the word "endorse" removed from the speech and then quickly reinserted, one last sign of the divisions in her campaign. Clinton urged her supporters to turn their energies to electing Obama president. "When you hear people saying, or think to yourself, 'if only' or 'what if,' I say--please don't go there," Clinton said, pledging to "work my heart out to make sure that Sen. Obama is our next president, and I hope and pray that all of you will join me in that effort."

In the most memorable line of the speech, she spoke of what her campaign had achieved: "Although we weren't able to shatter that highest, hardest glass ceiling this time, thanks to you, it's got about 18 million cracks in it. And the light is shining through like never before, filling us all with the hope & the knowledge that the path will be a little easier next time."

Many of her supporters believed the opposite: that she had been hampered in her campaign because of lingering sexism in society.

Source: The Battle for America 2008, by Balz & Johnson, p.218-219 Aug 4, 2009

On Foreign Policy: 2007: Naive to meet with leaders of Iran & North Korea

In a June 2007 debate in South Carolina she again drew a sharp contrast with Obama when he unexpectedly pledged that, as president, he would willingly meet with the leaders of such rogue nations as Iran and North Korea without preconditions during his first term in office. "Well, I will not promise to meet with the leasers of these countries during my first year." Clinton interjected. "I will promise a very vigorous diplomatic effort because I think it is not that you promise a meeting at that high a level before you know what the intentions are. I don't want to be used for propaganda purposes. I don't want to make a situation even worse."

This looked like another Obama gaffe. The following day, her campaign recruited former secretary of state Madeleine Albright to lead the attack against Obama. During a telephone interview, she launched a personal attack on Obama, [saying], "I thought he was irresponsible and frankly naive."

Source: The Battle for America 2008, by Balz & Johnson, p. 83-84 Aug 4, 2009

On Health Care: We need a movement to get healthcare done this time

She said [at a primary debate], "We're supposed to limit this to three minutes. As some of you know, I can talk three hours or three days on health care." Though Clinton did not have a plan at that point, it was quickly apparent how expert she was at a March 2007 debate. Health care was her passion, and it showed. It is a disgrace, she thundered, to have millions of Americans left out of the health care system. "We need a movement. We need to make this the number one voting issue in the '08 election," she said as her words were drowned out by rising applause. "We're going to get it done this time." She was even more impressive during the questions. When she finished, someone in the audience yelled out, "You go, girl!"
Source: The Battle for America 2008, by Balz & Johnson, p. 73-74 Aug 4, 2009

On Health Care: 2006: If I can't do universal coverage, why run?

In Sep. 2007 came the unveiling of her signature domestic issue, health care. Back in December, she told an adviser, "If I can't do universal coverage, what's the point of running?" That was far from a casual remark. Her failure to enact universal health care during [in 1993] had helped Republicans seize control of Congress, a devastating defeat for the Democrats and personally a bitter one for her. Now she made it known that if elected she intended to push aggressively for universal coverage.

Her new plan was carefully crafted and politically astute, offering detail where necessary and avoiding it where possible. Clearly, she had learned her lesson from the health care debacle. Since most people who have insurance want to keep what they have, she built her plan on the existing system of employer-based insurance, with alternatives for those who did not have insurance through their work. Her plan, unlike Obama's, imposed a mandate, requiring that everyone purchase some kind of insurance.

Source: The Battle for America 2008, by Balz & Johnson, p. 85-86 Aug 4, 2009

On Immigration: NY licenses for illegals fills federal gap

The October 2007 debate turned to a plan by NY Governor Eliot Spitzer to make illegal immigrants eligible for driver's licenses. "What Gov. Spitzer is trying to do is fill the vacuum left by the failure of this administration to bring about comprehensive immigration reform," Clinton said. "In NY we have several million at any one time who are in NY illegally. They are undocumented workers. They are driving on our roads. The possibility of them having an accident that harms themselves or others is just a matter of the odds. It's probability. Gov. Spitzer is trying to fill the vacuum. We need to get back to comprehensive immigration reform because no state, no matter how well intentioned, can fill this gap. There needs to be federal action on immigration reform."

The moderator asked the others onstage whether anyone opposed the idea. Clinton reentered the conversation. "Well, I just want to add, I did not say that it should be done, but I certainly recognize why Gov. Spitzer is trying."

Source: The Battle for America 2008, by Balz & Johnson, p. 97-99 Aug 4, 2009

On Principles & Values: Initially seemed inevitable nominee, even among blacks

Obama knows all too well that Clinton stands as the odds-on, even inevitable, winner of the nomination--and for good reason. She is the best known, has the most formidable political organization, the most money, the greatest expertise. She's backed by a network that has helped win the White House twice, something no Democrat had accomplished since FDR, and can recruit almost anyone she wants. And everyone knows her name.

Beyond that, she and Bill Clinton have a special claim on the allegiance of black voters. So popular is Bill among blacks that he's been called, admiringly, "the first black president." She also begins her campaign enjoying the endorsements of leading blacks from the civil rights era, including Congressman John Lewis of Georgia.

Source: The Battle for America 2008, by Balz & Johnson, p. 4 Aug 4, 2009

On Principles & Values: Lives by Weselyan credo: Do all the good you can

We once asked Ann Lewis, Hillary Clinton's friend and adviser, to describe Clinton's political philosophy. She pointed to the words of John Wesley: "Do all the good you can, By all the means you can, In all the ways you can, In all the places you can, At all the times you can, To all the people you can, As long as ever you can." By that, Lewis sought to explain Clinton's devotion to issues like health care, children's well-being, and education. In New Hampshire that John Wesley credo defined her entire candidacy. She would wrest every opportunity out of every minute of every day until the polls had closed and she could no longer affect the outcome.
Source: The Battle for America 2008, by Balz & Johnson, p.140 Aug 4, 2009

On Principles & Values: 2007: Portrayed as lobbyist-funded status quo candidate

In an October 20, 2007 debate, John Edwards ripped into Clinton as a creature of a corrupt power structure. "I think what voters have to ask themselves is: Do you believe that the candidate who's raised the most money from Washington lobbyists, Democrat or Republican, --that's Senator Clinton. If people want the status quo, Senator Clinton's your candidate."

Edwards was particularly aggressive at the YearlyKos Chicago convention, where he and Obama attacked Clinton for taking money from lobbyists. Through the fall, he escalated his attacks. "I felt like I needed to do it." he later told us, "because I didn't see it being done in any other way. I thought if we floated through the debates, she would win the nomination." Obama was able to piggyback on those attacks without seeming overly negative himself, and without paying any price in the press for going negative.

Source: The Battle for America 2008, by Balz & Johnson, p.96 Aug 4, 2009

On War & Peace: 2007: Opposed funding Iraq War; no escalation

In May 2007, the Senate voted on $100 billion for Iraq. For Clinton, the bill presented an excruciating choice. Should she bow to reality, support a bill certain to pass, and risk losing enough support among the Democratic base? Or should she stand firm against the president, and face Republican charges in the general election of turning her back on the troops?

Clinton's campaign advisers were unanimous--surprisingly so. All recommended a no vote. But a no vote would seem to violate her nearly 5-year effort to preserve her credentials as a future commander in chief.

In a statement, she said, "Tonight I voted against the Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Bill because it fails to compel the president to give our troops a new strategy in Iraq. I believe that the president should begin a phased redeployment of our troops out of Iraq and abandon this escalation."

Just 14 senators opposed the measure. She had moved dramatically to where she was in a minority within her Democratic caucus.

Source: The Battle for America 2008, by Balz & Johnson, p. 80-81 Aug 4, 2009

The above quotations are from The Battle for America 2008
The Story of an Extraordinary Election

by Dan Balz and Haynes Johnson
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