Rep. Ellen Tauscher, D-Alamo, has endorsed Democratic presidential candidate and Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York.
Tauscher made the announcement at a conference call with Clinton under way at this moment.
The endorsement was expected; the two women have been allies for years. Clinton campaigned for Tauscher during the Bay Area lawmaker’s hard-fought first campaign in a Republican plurality district in 1996.
During the 15-minute call, Tauscher said Clinton has the “strength and experience to lead this country” and called her one of the “warmest and funniest people” she knows, a trait she predicts voters will increasingly see during the campaign.
She also said Clinton is the best option for those who seek to end the war in Iraq and bring U.S. troops home.
“And I’ll never forget when (Clinton) went to Beijing in 1995 and said, ‘Human rights are women’s rights and women’s rights are human rights,’ “ Tauscher said. “I remember the tremendous affinity and respect she engendered.”
In return, Clinton touted Tauscher as a highly respected leader in defense, high tech, veterans, nuclear proliferation and transportation issues and welcomed her expertise into the campaign.
Tauscher’s East Bay colleagues, reps. George Miller of Martinez, Jerry McNerney of Pleasanton and Barbara Lee of Oakland have not endorsed or selected a preferred candidate.
A McNerney spokesman said the congressman, who faces a tough re-election campaign, has no plans to embrace a particular primary candidate.
That makes political sense: McNerney doesn’t need extra political baggage in a district where Republicans outnumber Democrats and the GOP has plans to pour scads of money into defeating him in 2008.
Staffers in Lee and Miller’s offices — both of which sit in safe seats — say their members may endorse someone later.
Tauscher’s support of Clinton comes as little surprise. The women have been political allies for more than a decade.
Clinton helped Tauscher raise money and visited Danville — the first First Lady to come to Danville — during the Bay Area lawmaker’s initial, hard-fought 1996 congressional campaign in a district where Republicans outnumbered Democrats.
The two women then connected in Washington, D.C., after Tauscher took office in 1997 and they have remained allies and friends through Clinton’s transition from First Lady to U.S. Senator.
“Ellen and I have a lot in common,” Clinton said. “We both pioneered in professions that weren’t common for women. We both have daughters, of which we have spoken about at great length during their growing up years. And we had a great trip to Munich a couple of years ago to attend a security conference.”
Tauscher spent 14 years on Wall Street, while Clinton worked a lawyer before her husband, Bill, was elected to the White House.
Tauscher’s role in Clinton’s presidential campaign will include her service as an advisor on national security issues. Like Clinton, Tauscher sits on the armed services committee of her branch of government.
Tauscher is also an aggressive fund-raiser and will help garner cash to fuel the costly presidential campaign, particularly in a massive and expensive state such as California.