YearlyKos crowd receives Dems
Well, Hillary Clinton didn't lose at another Democratic candidate forum today; therefore, she won. But that didn't stop competitors from trying to score points at her expense.
The campaign's frontrunner and all the other party candidates (except Joe Biden) showed up at the second annual YearlyKos convention in Chicago to replay their views and pay tribute to those leftist activists and bloggers gathered there to celebrate their newfound influence and sharpen their skills for the coming political fray online. To please the crowd, all seven candidates announced that if elected, they would establish an official White House staff blogger, a promise that received quite an ovation.
After first claiming a scheduling conflict, Clinton did finally show up at her own candidate breakout session. She outlined her standard stump views for about 300 people, who received her warmly, according to The Times' James Rainey, who had one story appear in the Saturday paper. Another story on the convention by Rainey appears in Sunday's print editions and here on this website. At one point, Rainey reports, Clinton received a standing ovation.
Clinton has received considerable criticism on the DailyKos website for her initial support of the Iraq war and as the party establishment's candidate. In unscientific website polls there, she routinely trails John Edwards and Barack Obama.
At a later forum with all the other Democratic candidates before some 1,500 activists in McCormick Place, she was also warmly received -- until, that is, the subject of accepting donations from lobbyists came up. Edwards and Obama have ostentatiously announced they will not accept such campaign donations. The moderator turned to Clinton and asked if she'd make the same pledge.
"It's a position John has certainly taken," she said. And the crowd laughed. But no, she said, she would continue to accept lobbyists' donations because "whether you like it or not, there are lobbyists who represent real Americans, like nurses."
Noticeable hisses and boos erupted from the crowd, seemingly catching Clinton off guard. "Well," she said, "that gives me a serious sense of reality about being here." But she went on to explain: "If you look at my record, I have been fighting for the same things and I have stayed true to my core principles for more than 30 years."
Then she added, "I don't think after fighting for 35 years for what I believe in, people will think I can be seriously influenced by contributions I have taken."
Obama and Edwards then attacked. Obama said insurance companies had spent a billion dollars in the early '90s combating the national healthcare program Clinton was designing during her husband's first administration. "You can't tell me," Obama charged, "that money did not have an influence. You can't tell me that money was for the public good."
Edwards then moved in. "If you have any doubt whether Washington lobbyists have disproportionate influence," he said, "let me ask: How many in this room have a Washington lobbyist?" Three or four hands went up.
"You are not represented by Washington lobbyists," Edwards said. "We need to cut these people off." He got a loud cheer.
The only other candidate to receive hisses and boos was Mike Gravel, when he supported a federal sales tax. The convention ends Sunday morning, but the blogging about it has already begun.