A lot of pundits –Democratic or otherwise– are wondering if Hillary Clinton already has the Democratic nomination sewn up: her lead over her nearest rivals continues to grow, she raises money like there’s no tomorrow (more on that in a bit), and even her meager experience in the Senate outweighs that of her nearest rivals, Sen. Barack Obama (D – Illinois) and former Senator
Elmer Gantry John Edwards. Three months before the first caucuses and ten months before the convention, some folks are already speculating about Hillary’s choice of a running mate.
But a few think the coronation may be a bit premature.
Tom Bevan at RealClearPolitics reminds us of the 2004 presidential nominating race: at this point, Howard Dean and Dick Gephardt were the odds-on favorites, while John Kerry and John Edwards were also-rans. We know how that turned out.
Tom’s point is that the Iowa caucuses are hard to predict, and Hillary’s campaign could prove just as brittle as Howard Dean’s if she loses there. She has incredibly high negatives for a front-runner, and a bursting of her image of inevitability could lead supporters worried about those numbers to jump ship. And there may always be something out of left field that hurts her campaign.
Speaking of which … there’s the possibility of scandal sinking her ship. Ed at Captain’s Quarters looks at the latest revelations in the Norman Hsu scandal. Hsu’s the big Democratic donor who made a name for himself "bundling" donations from others to turn over to the Clinton campaign (and other Democratic campaigns) in large "bundles." There was thought nothing illegal about that, until it was learned that Hsu was using those small donors to launder money he apparently bilked from investors who bought into his fraudulent companies, a portion of which was then donated to candidates.
When the scandal broke, many candidates scrambled to return the money or donate it to charity, though Hillary was a bit slow to do this. Her campaign claimed that they had checked Hsu thoroughly and had no idea he was a crook or the money dirty.
Except, apparently, he was directing money to other Democratic candidates who then conveniently endorsed Hillary. A quid pro quo, with Hsu as a cutout to cover for Mrs. Clinton? Captain Ed explains:
This revelation shows that Hillary and her campaign didn’t just passively receive funds from Hsu. The campaign actively worked with Hsu to distribute the funds to other campaigns, and in return, Hillary bought endorsements with the stolen money. And since the Boston Globe did the reporting, this can’t be chalked up to some conservative hit piece, either.
For example, Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack dropped out of the presidential race early, surprising some analysts who thought he might have a chance against Hillary. Vilsack had a $450,000 debt to retire, and Hillary lent her assistance — and her chief fundraiser. In Nevada, whose primary got pushed to the front end of the schedule, Clinton arranged for Hsu to raise funds for Dana Titus’ gubernatorial race. Both Titus and Vilsack endorsed Hillary.
Hsu made a lot of contributions to Hillary endorsers. He have almost $50,000 to Tom Harkin, whose wife Ruth is a major backer of Hillary. Senator Debbie Stabenow of Michigan got over $20,000. Dianne Feinstein got $17,000. Mark Pryor took $11,000 from Hsu. All of them support Hillary Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination.
I’ve long thought that Senator Clinton is her own worst enemy. Whether it’s through an electoral upset or scandal, we may yet see her campaign implode.
LINKS: More at Power Line.
Technorati tags: Hillary Clinton
, Norman Hsu
, money laundering
, Iowa caucuses
, Howard Dean
, Richard Gephardt
, John Kerry
, John Edwards
, 2008 election