Robert Novak

WASHINGTON -- Democratic insiders blame Sen. Hillary Clinton's micromanaging for her presidential campaign's acceptance of nearly $900,000 in contributions donated or raised by Norman Hsu, convicted for fraud and a former fugitive.

The Clinton campaign has insinuated that her financial aides dropped the ball in failing to vet Hsu before taking his money. But the senator is obsessive in running her own campaign, taking responsibility for details.

Hsu for many years has been well known in New York Democratic circles, appearing at events with $5,000 to $20,000 in contributions. Recipients were ignorant of his criminal background. Nevertheless, considering Clinton administration scandals about dirty money from Asian businessmen, Democrats are amazed that Sen. Clinton did not thoroughly investigate Hsu before accepting funds.

MAKING HILLARY WAIT

Sen. Hillary Clinton waited for five hours, behind three other Democratic presidential candidates, to hear testimony Tuesday from Gen. David Petraeus and Amb. Ryan Crocker because of a calculated political decision by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

Sen. Joseph Biden, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, refused the joint hearings with the Armed Services Committee held by their House counterparts. Reid ordered that Foreign Relations would go first because its Republican members were not nearly as strong for President Bush on Iraq as GOP members of Armed Services, headed by Sen. John McCain. Of the top two Republicans on Foreign Relations, Sen. Richard Lugar has distanced himself from Bush policy and Sen. Chuck Hagel opposes it.

Clinton, as an Armed Services member, had to wait until late afternoon. Her principal rival for the Democratic nomination, Sen. Barack Obama, is a Foreign Relations member, as are presidential hopefuls Biden and Sen. Christopher Dodd.

KERREY IN?

Before Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska announced his Senate retirement, former Sen. Bob Kerrey -- president of The New School in New York City -- confided his intentions to a political friend.

If maverick Republican Hagel sought a third Senate term, maverick Democrat Kerrey would support him -- whether Hagel switched to the Democrats or stayed in the GOP. If Hagel did not run, Kerrey would return to Nebraska to run for the Senate.

Kerrey, undefeated in campaigns for governor and the Senate, is one of the most popular Democrats in Nebraska's history. Although he has been in New York seven years, he would be heavily favored in 2008. Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns, who resigned as governor to join President Bush's Cabinet, might be the only Republican capable of defeating Kerrey.

KERRY OUT?


Robert Novak

Robert Novak (1931-2009) was a syndicated columnist and editor of the Evans-Novak Political Report.
 

 
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