Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton rarely does the Sunday morning talk show circuit, but she barnstormed all five of the major programs today to try to capitalize on the mostly positive reviews of her new health care plan – and to address some of the controversies in her campaign, such as her recently exposed fugitive fund-raiser.
The timing of her appearances was no accident: Mrs. Clinton and her advisers believe that she has entered the fall campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination in a position of unusual strength. Today, therefore, seemed like a good moment to run the gauntlet of the Sunday shows – a gauntlet that can be withering, and where Mrs. Clinton knew she would face strict scrutiny of her sharply changed positions on Iraq.
Mrs. Clinton generally did fine – there were no major gaffes, no flashes of a chilly or combative side. When Republican attacks were mentioned, she stuck to her trademark belly-laugh – though she overdid it a tad on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”
There was no major news committed, but she did offer some illuminating details on a range of issues –- health care for illegal immigrants, Iraq and the Moveon.org controversy, public financing for political campaigns, Bill Clinton’s role in her administration, and the ugliness and dirty tricks she will not tolerate in her political camp.
Her comments about one of her top campaign fund-raising bundlers, Norman Hsu, a ’90s-era fugitive who now faces new fraud charges, only repeated the talking points that her advisers have offered: She did not know he was a con man, he fooled dozens of campaigns, she has instituted criminal background checks for major donors, etc.
She did say, on ABC News’s “This Week with George Stephanopoulos,” that she might co-sponsor a bill introduced by a rival for the Democratic nomination, Senator Barack Obama of Illinois, to provide public financing for campaigns.
“I’m going to co-sponsor anything that looks like it can move us in that direction, because my view on this is we’re not going to get anything done at this point with the president, with, unfortunately, a Republican minority that engages in filibustering, but we’re going to try to build a commitment to doing it,” she said.
She also said that, if she were president of Columbia University, she would not have extended an invitation to the president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, to speak there on Monday as part of a World Leaders Forum on campus.
“Well, if I were a president of the university, I would not have invited him. He’s a Holocaust denier. He’s a supporter of terrorism. But I also respect the right in our country to make different decisions,” she said on CNN’s “Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer.”
And she also disavowed the political shot at her Republican rival, Rudolph W. Giuliani, that one of her supporters, former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack, took when he said recently that Americans beyond New York would soon learn about his three marriages and his wobbly relationships with his two children.
“Governor Vilsack has said that he was wrong in saying that and I agree, he was — we are not running a campaign that goes down that road,” Mrs. Clinton said on ABC. “We’re trying to stay focused on the issues, stay focused on the differences between me and the Republicans.”