Hillary's manager

Robert Novak
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Posted: Sep 23, 2006 12:01 AM
Hillary's manager

WASHINGTON -- The report in Washington's Hill newspaper that former Democratic National Chairman Terry McAuliffe will head Sen. Hillary Clinton's 2008 presidential campaign did not sit well with many of her key supporters.

Bill and Hillary Clinton forced McAuliffe, their financial angel, as chairman on reluctant Democratic National Committee (DNC) members after Al Gore's defeat for president in 2000. McAuliffe had provided loans for the Clintons' home purchases when they were financially strapped after leaving the White House.

Opposition to McAuliffe within the DNC was largely based on his possible future implication in labor and business scandals. That did not materialize, but reviews of his performance as national chairman through the 2004 election were mixed. Many supporters of Sen. Clinton consider McAuliffe a crack fund-raiser who should not take a prominent public position in her campaign.

WHITE HOUSE PIQUE

Before reaching agreement Thursday, the Bush White House was not happy about the defection of Chairman John Warner and two other Senate Armed Services Committee Republicans on the military tribunals issue, but was most upset with Sen. Lindsey Graham.

Presidential aides claim that Graham had been on board with the administration's language until Sen. John McCain opposed it in early September. They contend that Graham is aiming at being attorney general in a McCain Cabinet.

As a House member, Graham defied party leaders in his state of South Carolina in 2000 to support McCain in a losing effort against George W. Bush.

GOP FOR LIEBERMAN

Republican money is starting to pour into Connecticut for Democratic Sen. Joseph Lieberman, running as an independent against multi-millionaire anti-war candidate Ned Lamont, the Democratic nominee.

Private commitments to Lieberman by Republican contributors coincided with announcement of a Nov. 1 fund-raiser at the Manhattan townhouse of Michael Bloomberg, the Republican mayor of New York. Co-chairing the event is another New York Republican, former Sen. Alfonse D'Amato. Lieberman has pledged to remain in the Senate Democratic caucus even if elected as an independent.

A footnote: Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder and his wife Tanya will hold a $1,500-a-ticket fund-raiser Sept. 30 at his Potomac, Md., home for Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele, the Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate. Snyder keeps a low profile politically but contributed $25,000 to the Republican National Committee in each of the past two years and $4,200 to Sen. George Allen of Virginia last year.

CHANGING GOP PRIORITIES

Republican fund-raisers in Washington have changed their priority as the best possible Senate gain for 2006 from the state of Washington to New Jersey.

Business tycoon Mike McGavick's prospects against Sen. Maria Cantwell in Washington have nearly collapsed because of the way he handled the revelation of a 13-year-old DUI charge. In New Jersey, appointed Sen. Bob Menendez is slipping against State Sen. Tom Kean Jr. because of new scandal allegations concerning him.

A footnote: Michigan is a new possibility for a Republican takeover, with Oakland County Sheriff Mike Bouchard narrowing the gap between him and Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow, who was previously considered an easy winner.

MURTHA'S ADVANTAGE

The long shot Republican chance to defeat anti-war Democratic Rep. John Murtha got longer still when Pennsylvania Republican State Chairman Rob Gleason canceled a Sept. 25 fund-raiser for Murtha's GOP opponent, Washington County Commissioner Diane Irey.

Irey's staffers accused Gleason of being too close to Murtha, a fellow resident of Johnstown, Pa. They claimed the Republican chairman has been talking down Irey's chances in Republican circles. Irey has reduced Murtha's big lead but still is far behind.

"I told her that I spend all my time and effort having fund-raisers for the Cambria County GOP," Gleason told this column. "So to go back to the donors would be difficult." He said the Irey campaign was asking too much of party donors and did not understand "the way we operate up here."