View Full Version : Hillary Clinton gets anti-war challenger

12-05-2005, 03:36 PM
Clinton gets anti-war challenger
Raw Story (http://rawstory.com/news/2005/Clinton_gets_antiwar_challenger_1205.html)

In a move that is certain to harden the battle lines among Democrats surrounding the Iraq war, a veteran union organizer will announce Tuesday that he is campaigning to unseat Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York.

The longshot candidate, Jonathan Tasini, has received the backing of anti-war mother Cindy Sheehan, who made national headlines this summer for her protest outside President Bush's Crawford, TX ranch.

Tasini's position on the war is clear: He supports immediate withdrawal of troops from Iraq.

"I do not believe the U.S. should embark on wars of choice," he writes on the 'issues' page of his campaign website (http://www.tasinifornewyork.org/iraq/position). "As Senator Robert Byrd, the dean of the U.S. Senate said when he tried to stop the rush to war, the U.S. should not embrace a culture of pre-emptive war."

Citing the war's cost, he says, "$200 billion could have covered every person without health insurance in America. We could have hired 3.5 million elementary school teachers or built 24,000 new schools."

His message plays off a common theme shared by Sen. Clinton -- that Democrats must take a strong stance on national security. Where Sen. Clinton supports increasing the size of the military, Tasini sees a war that has nursed new threats.

"The war, supported by my opponent," he says, "has made this country less safe."

Clinton has of late sought to moderate her image and has engendered respect among much of Washington for staying out of the limelight, keeping her own positions close to her chest and capitalizing on the nostalgia among much of the party for her husband's presidency.

Tasini, the lead plantiff in a landmark case that granted freelance writers greater copyright over their work, is expected to make his announcement in New York City Tuesday.

12-05-2005, 03:49 PM
Why I'm Taking on Hillary Clinton
By Jonathan Tasini - AlterNet (http://www.alternet.org/story/29055/)

Imagine walking into the ballot booth and casting your vote without having to hold your nose. Imagine being able to vote for what you really believe, instead of telling yourself (yet again) that the best you can do is pick the lesser of two evils, including voting for someone who is a supporter of the war in Iraq. I can imagine having a real choice -- and it's the reason I'm challenging Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination for Senator from New York.

My campaign will give New York voters a voice and a choice, for the differences between the incumbent and myself are stark and wide. She supported the war in Iraq from the beginning, and even now, after the deaths of 2,100 Americans and countless thousands of Iraqis, and the waste of hundreds of billions of dollars, still holds a position not very different from that of George Bush (find a "winning" strategy, then withdraw troops ... sometime.)

She still says NAFTA was a good thing. You remember NAFTA: it cost thousands of Americans their jobs, threatened the environment and encouraged big corporations to move jobs to countries with dismal labor rights. She has never advocated for real health care reform, like universal health care, because that would have meant taking on the powerful drug and insurance company lobbies. And she receives campaign cash from big corporate donors, including Wal-Mart.

My background, my positions and my beliefs are a mirror opposite. I am a long-time labor leader, organizer and activist, who will draw financial support in small amounts from many thousands. I am a patriot who has firmly and vocally opposed the war -- who thinks that real homeland security means bringing the troops home now -- and who believes that our economic future should not be determined by an ideology of corporate protection that moves good-paying jobs to countries that desecrate the environment and abuse their workers, and which leaves hardworking American men and women to face a dead-end future. I support providing Medicare to all Americans, so good health becomes a right, not a luxury for those who can afford it.

I also stand in challenge to the politics of business-as-usual -- and to the Democratic Party which has a chance to regain power, if it has the courage to put forth a message and agenda that is something more than Republican-lite. I have talked to people throughout New York State and the country, and they are hungry for that vision. My campaign offers progressives a chance to say their votes cannot be taken for granted, simply because a Democratic Party candidate is the "less bad" option. It gives us a chance to pursue our conception of what America should be.

Can I win this race? It's always tough to take on an incumbent. But whatever happens, I hope to leave behind a network of activists committed to taking back the country and electing leaders who have the nerve to stand against corporate abusive of power and those who would impose an American empire on the rest of the world. And I do not believe victory is impossible. The late Paul Wellstone's slogan was "vote for what you believe in," a slogan that is the clarion call for If the people of New York do that, we can win. The time has come to stop accepting second best. I've worked for a better world my entire adult life, and I still believe it's within reach.

Jonathan Tasini is the president of the Economic Future Group and the author of two books, including They Get Cake, We Eat Crumbs.

12-07-2005, 02:44 PM
Democrats Fear Backlash at Polls for Antiwar Remarks
Washington Post (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/12/06/AR2005120601707_pf.html)

Strong antiwar comments in recent days by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean have opened anew a party rift over Iraq, with some lawmakers warning that the leaders' rhetorical blasts could harm efforts to win control of Congress next year.

Several Democrats joined President Bush yesterday in rebuking Dean's declaration to a San Antonio radio station Monday that "the idea that we're going to win the war in Iraq is an idea which is just plain wrong."

The critics said that comment could reinforce popular perceptions that the party is weak on military matters and divert attention from the president's growing political problems on the war and other issues. "Dean's take on Iraq makes even less sense than the scream in Iowa: Both are uninformed and unhelpful," said Rep. Jim Marshall (D-Ga.), recalling Dean's famous election-night roar after stumbling in Iowa during his 2004 presidential bid.

Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Rahm Emanuel (Ill.) and Rep. Steny H. Hoyer (Md.), the second-ranking House Democratic leader, have told colleagues that Pelosi's recent endorsement of a speedy withdrawal, combined with her claim that more than half of House Democrats support her position, could backfire on the party, congressional sources said.

These sources said the two leaders have expressed worry that Pelosi is playing into Bush's hands by suggesting Democrats are the party of a quick pullout -- an unpopular position in many of the most competitive House races.

"What I want Democrats to be discussing is what the president's policies have led to," Emanuel said. He added that once discussion turns to a formal timeline for troop withdrawals, "the how and when gets buried" and many voters take away only an impression that Democrats favor retreat.

Pelosi last week endorsed a plan by Rep. John P. Murtha (D-Pa.) to withdraw all U.S. troops in Iraq within six months, putting her at odds with most other Democratic leaders and leading foreign policy experts in her party.

Democrats, who have not controlled the White House since 2000 and the House in more than a decade, have tried over the past year to put aside deep philosophical differences and rally behind a two-pronged strategy to return to power: Highlight the growing number of GOP scandals and score Bush's unpopular war management.

While the party is divided over the specifics of Iraq policy, most Democratic legislators are slowly coalescing around a political plan, according to lawmakers and party operatives. This would involve setting a broad time frame for drawing down U.S. troops, starting with National Guard and reserve units, internationalizing the reconstruction effort, and blaming Bush for misleading the country into a war without a victory plan.

The aim is to provide the party enough maneuvering room to allow Democrats to adjust their position as conditions in Iraq change -- and fix public attention mostly on Bush's policies rather the details of a Democratic alternative. A new Time magazine poll found 60 percent of those surveyed disapproved of Bush's handling of Iraq.

Senate Minority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) embodies this cautious approach. He has resisted adopting a concrete Iraq policy and persuaded most Democratic senators to vote for a recent Senate resolution calling 2006 "a period of significant transition to full Iraqi sovereignty" and to compel the administration "to explain to Congress and the American people its strategy for the successful completion of the mission in Iraq." While Republicans introduced the resolution, it was prompted by a Democratic plan.

Democratic Reps. Jane Harman and Ellen Tauscher, both of California, plan to push House Democrats to adopt a similar position during a closed-door meeting today that is to include debate on the Pelosi position.

Despite Pelosi's claims that she echoes the views of most members in her caucus, plenty of Democrats are cringing at her new high profile on an Iraq withdrawal. Not only did she back a position that polls show most Americans do not support, but she also did this when Bush is trying to move off the defensive by accusing Democrats of supporting a de facto surrender.

"We have not blown our chance" of winning back the House but "we have jeopardized it," said a top strategist to House Democrats, who requested anonymity to speak freely about influential party leaders. "It raises questions about whether we are capable of seizing political opportunities or whether we cannot help ourselves and blow it" by playing to the liberal base of the party.

Pelosi spokesman Brendan Daly said that while Pelosi estimates more than half of House Democrats favor a speedy withdrawal, she will lobby members in today's meeting against adopting this as a caucus position.

Without naming Pelosi, Vice President Cheney told troops yesterday that terrorists will prevail "if we lose our nerve and abandon our mission," saying such precipitous move "would be unwise in the extreme." Cheney, addressing Army units at Fort Drum, N.Y., said that "any decisions about troop levels will be driven by the conditions on the ground and the judgment of our commanders, not by artificial timelines set by politicians in Washington, D.C."

In his comments Monday, Dean likened the president's optimistic assessment to those offered by the government during the Vietnam War. Bush fired back yesterday. "There are pessimists . . . and politicians who try to score points. But our strategy is one that is -- will lead us to victory," Bush said in response to a question about Dean's comments after a meeting with Lee Jong Wook, director general of the World Health Organization. "Our troops need to hear not only are they supported, but that we have got a strategy that will win."

DNC spokeswoman Karen Finney said Dean's comments were taken out of context. Dean, she said, meant the war was unwinnable unless the Bush administration adopts a new strategy. Still, a number of Democrats distanced themselves from Dean. "I think Howard Dean . . . represents himself when he speaks," Tauscher said. "He does not represent me."

Democratic candidates said their biggest concern is that voters will misconstrue comments by party leaders about Bush's handling of the war as criticism of U.S. troops who are fighting in Iraq. "I absolutely disagree" with Dean, said Patrick Murphy, a Democrat who is running for the suburban Philadelphia House seat now occupied by GOP Rep. Michael G. Fitzpatrick.

Rep. Chet Edwards (D-Tex.), who represents a district Bush won easily in 2004, said he disagrees with Pelosi and Dean but does not see that as a problem. "The national press is playing up the fact that Democrats do not speak with one voice on Iraq," he said. "We should wear it as a badge of honor because it shows we are not playing a political line with war and peace."