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Dianne Feinstein hosted Obama-Clinton sitdown

It looks as if California’s own U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein hosted a momentous, closed-door, one-on-one meeting between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton on Thursday night at her home in Washington. From CNN:

Sen. Dianne Feinstein on Friday shed some light on the surprise meeting between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton that took place at the California Democrat’s Washington home Thursday night.

“I received them. Put them in the living room in two comfortable chairs facing one another and left,” Feinstein told CNN Tuesday morning.

“They talked. I went upstairs and did my work,” Feinstein continued. “They called me when it was over. I came down and said ‘good night everybody, I hope you had a good meeting.’ They were laughing and that was it.”

Among the other details Feinstein divulged:

  • - The meeting took place at 9 p.m. and lasted about an hour.
  • - Clinton called Feinstein Thursday afternoon to see if they could use her house.
  • - Feinstein served them water but nothing else.
  • - No one else was in the room with them. One person from each of the campaigns went to a separate room, a study, in the house. Security waited outside.
  • Asked why Clinton and Obama kept the meeting so quiet, Feinstein said the two formal rivals wanted “wanted an opportunity to meet together alone.”

    This is a deeply personal time too,” Feinstein added. “You’re sorting out your feelings. Hillary’s going to be giving a big speech tomorrow. Barack is trying to put things together for a major presidential campaign. ”

    “There are a lot of decompression, nerve endings, that need to come together,” she continued. “I think the opportunity to sit down, just the two of them, was positive.”

    Posted on Friday, June 6th, 2008
    Under: Barack Obama, Dianne Feinstein, Elections, General, Hillary Clinton | No Comments »

    East Bay Clinton supporter ready to move on

    Alameda County Democratic Central Committee Chairwoman Robin Torello of San Leandro, a Hillary Clinton delegate, said it’s time to move on.

    “I felt both of them gave really great speeches, and overall it appears Barack Obama is our nominee, and we look forward to defeating John McCain in November,” she said. “You don’t want another four years of George Bush and that’s what McCain represents.”

    “All I know is the party will be unified, no matter what. There’s too much at stake.”

    Asked what she thought of the idea of an Obama/Clinton ticket, Torello demurred. “Those people are just much much smarter than I am to figure that out, I’m just a little old person in Alameda County. Whatever is best for the party, that’s what I want to happen.”

    Posted on Tuesday, June 3rd, 2008
    Under: Barack Obama, Democratic Party, Elections, Hillary Clinton, John McCain | No Comments »

    Jerry McNerney endorses Barack Obama

    mcnerneyportrait.jpgI just got off the phone with Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton, who said he is now throwing his support as a Democratic National Convention superdelegate to Barack Obama.

    “I had made a commitment to stay out of it until after the primaries, I think that was a good thing to do… but on the other hand it’s now clear Senator Obama is going to be the nominee, and I think he’s going to be a great nominee for the party.”

    Democrats in McNerney’s district in February voted 54.1 percent for Clinton, 39.9 percent for Obama. McNerney in early March told the San Francisco Chronicle he would “make a decision when I have to… I’m going to let the voters decide for themselves.

    “I wanted to wait and let the process play out, but I don’t have any reservations,” he told me tonight. “According to the primary process, Senator Obama won fair and square over Senator Clinton with the number of pledged delgatges, and now I think it’s time for the party to come together behind the candidate.”

    McNerney said he has seen and heard an amazing outpouring of interest in and support for Obama in recent months. “Even in my district I think there’s a watershed change of support for him, so I have no reservations at all.”

    He said he spoke with both candidates as he made up his mind. “I sat down with Senator Clinton I guess about two weeks ago… I really admire what she’s done. She has run a very good campaign and she’s tough and she has good policies… but Senator Obama won fair and square and I can truly say I’m delighted to support him.”

    He said he spoke with Obama as well, reminding the candidate of his own background as a wind-energy consultant, and they agreed to confer on clean energy initiatives. “He basically said he’d be looking forward to working with me and looking for my input.”

    McNerney — a first-term incumbent who unseated House Resources Committee Chairman Richard Pombo, R-Tracy, in a district with a shrinking Republican registration edge — is unopposed in the Democratic primary and will face former Assemblyman and Board of Equalization member Dean Andal of Stockton in November; the National Repbulican Congressional Committee has rated him among its top targets.

    Oh, and Congressman? Sorry about the haiku.

    Posted on Tuesday, June 3rd, 2008
    Under: Barack Obama, Democratic Party, Elections, Hillary Clinton, Jerry McNerney | No Comments »

    Robert Reich: ‘An amazing ride,’ glad it’s over

    I just spoke with Robert Reich, U.S. Secretary of Labor under President Bill Clinton and now a University of California, Berkeley professor, who endorsed Obama in April. He said he’s glad to see the presidential primary endgame upon us.

    reich.jpg“It’s been an amazing ride — I don’t remember a primary that’s attracted more excitement and attention. People who are enormously cynical about politics have been glued to their televisions. What happens from here? Hopefully Senator Obama will make a victory speech that is extremely gracious toward Hillary Clinton, which compliments her on her campaign, gives her credit for whatever Obama can possibly find to give her credit for, and in general holds out the olive branch to her and to all of her supporters.

    “Hopefully likewise, she makes a concession speech that praises Senator Obama, focuses on what he has done right, celebrates his talents and character, wishes him the best in the general election and asks her supporters to come to support him, saying in no uncertain terms that she will fully support him. Hopefully then there is a photograph, or abundant photos of the two of them together with one arm around each other, the other raised almost as if they are president and vice president. The symbolism is very important, the graciousness is very important, the positive tone will be important.

    “Democrats have fought during many primaries; almost always they come together. The only exceptions were in 1968 when there was so much animosity, and perhaps in 1980 when Ted Kennedy ran against Carter… and both of those concerned real ideological divides. Here there is not much of an ideological divide — both candidates have stood for much the same thing. So despite the bad feelings that some of Hillary Clinton’s supporters may harbor toward Obama right now, I am confident they will disappear.”

    Did the race go on for too long?

    “I thought we were rapidly approaching the tipping point where the benefits of the excitement and enthusiasm and interest were just about to be overwhelmed by the disadvantages of not having a clear nominee this late in the game, when McCain is well into the general election.

    “But I don’t think that there would have been this much party-building had it not been for this competition between Obama and Hillary Clinton. It had an enormously positive effect on politics in terms of getting people interested again. I don’t think that’s going to end now. Obama has a very good chance of being what’s called a ‘transformative candidate,’ someone in the image of John F. Kennedy or Robert Kennedy who is seen to change the way we do politics in America.”

    Posted on Tuesday, June 3rd, 2008
    Under: Barack Obama, Berkeley, Democratic Party, Elections, Hillary Clinton | No Comments »

    Political Haiku, Vol. 2

    Perata can’t pick
    between successors, backs both.
    Vote Lonma Chancock!

    DNC decides
    to seat delegates in half.
    Clinton’s goose is cooked.

    Still McNerney waits,
    his superdelegate vote
    so soon safely moot.

    Schwarzenegger comes
    to Oakland to flog budget.
    Dellums begs for cops.

    Posted on Monday, June 2nd, 2008
    Under: Arnold Schwarzenegger, California State Senate, Don Perata, Elections, haiku, Hillary Clinton, Jerry McNerney, Loni Hancock, Oakland, Ron Dellums, Wilma Chan | No Comments »

    What’s left for the Democrats

    With the Florida and Michigan delegates seated with half-votes, the new threshhold to clinch the Democratic nomination is 2,118. The Washington Post says Obama has 2,052 (66 short) while Clinton has 1,877 (241 short).

    Puerto Rico votes today, with 55 delegates; Clinton is expected to do well there. Montana and South Dakota vote Tuesday, with 16 and 15 delegates respectively; Obama is expected to do well there.

    And so it’ll go to the superdelegates. Politico says the superdelegate count now stands at 324.5 for Obama, 279.5 for Clinton and 163 undecided. The undecideds include 86 Democratic National Committee members; 48 House members and 15 U.S. Senators. And of the undecideds, 14 are from California:

  • Rep. Susan Davis, D-San Diego
  • Rep. Sam Farr, D-Carmel
  • Rep. Bob Filner, D-San Diego
  • Rep. Mike Honda, D-San Jose
  • Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton
  • DNC member state Sen. Carole Midgen, D-San Francisco
  • DNC member and state Democratic Party campaign advisor Bob Mulholland
  • DNC member, attorney and author Christine Pelosi of San Francisco
  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco
  • DNC member and labor union political director John A. Perez of Los Angeles
  • DNC member and retired chemical worker Robert Rankin of Carson
  • DNC member and state party chairman Art Torres
  • DNC member and state official Keith Umemoto of Sacramento
  • DNC member and attorney Steve Ybarra of Sacramento
  • U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Thursday in San Francisco that he, Pelosi and DNC chairman Howard Dean have agreed to try to end the race by the end of this week by urging the remaining uncommitted superdelegates to weigh in.

    Posted on Sunday, June 1st, 2008
    Under: Barack Obama, California State Senate, Carole Migden, Democratic Party, Elections, Harry Reid, Hillary Clinton, Jerry McNerney, Mike Honda, Nancy Pelosi, U.S. House, U.S. Senate | No Comments »

    Quips and outtakes from Harry Reid

    U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was at the Commonwealth Club of California in San Francisco today, and said he, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean intend to ensure that the race for the Democratic presidential nomination will be over by the end of next week.

    Here are some odds and ends for which I didn’t have room in the story:

    Asked whether his own “The Good Fight” or former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan’s “What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington’s Culture of Deception” should be the single must-buy, must-read political memoir of the year, Reid replied he’s donating all proceeds from his book to charity, but “Scott probably needs the money more.”

    Asked who’s most to blame for the subprime mortgage loan crisis, Reid said it’s former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, whom he called “the J. Edgar Hoover of the financial world: He did everything he could to get in good with the next president.” Greenspan must’ve known the subprime loans were a disaster in the making, Reid said, and “if he didn’t know, he should’ve known,” as the U.S. Treasury secretaries under the George W. Bush and Bill Clinton administrations should’ve as well.

    On gas prices, Reid said the United States doesn’t have the oil reserves to produce its way out of the crisis, nor can it remain so dependent on oil imported from hostile or potentially hostile “tyrannical” regimes. Reid said he favors granting an eight-year tax credit to spur venture capital investment in solar, wind and geothermal energy production; he said he’d like to see the vast tracts of Nevada desert once used to test nuclear weapons be carpeted with solar panels to generate electricity for the nation.

    On healthcare, Reid said if we had Hillary Clinton’s healthcare plan — the one she pitched in 1993, while her husband was president — in place today, “there would be very few complaints.” Parts of that plan must be adopted into the next administration’s policy, he said, especially the ability of small business owners to pool their employees together so that they collectively can subscribe to better health-insurance plans.

    “Congress should have pretty low (approval) ratings, because we have not produced things,” he said — but he quickly said he’s not willing to take much blame for that. Republicans have filibustered 77 times in this Congress so far, he noted. “They broke a two-year record in 10 months. They’re like Mark McGuire, they’re on steroids. I guess I shouldn’t say Barry Bonds while I’m in San Francisco.”

    Posted on Thursday, May 29th, 2008
    Under: Democratic Party, Elections, Harry Reid, Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi, U.S. Senate | No Comments »

    Dennis Cardoza flips from Clinton to Obama

    Rep. Dennis Cardoza, D-Atwater, today moved his support as a Democratic superdelegate from Hillary Clinton to Barack Obama; Rep. Jim Costa, D-Fresno cast his lot with Obama today, too.

    The Obama campaign says these endorsements mean Obama has been endorsed by 310.5 superdelegates, and is 59 delegates away from clinching the Democratic nomination.

    Cardoza — whose 18th Congressional District touches five Central Valley counties including San Joaquin, where it encompasses more than half of Stockton and all of Lathrop — offered his rationale in a news release issued by the Obama campaign:

    cardoza.jpg“This is the most important election of my lifetime. While I continue to greatly respect and admire Senator Clinton and feel she has made history with her campaign, I believe that Senator Obama will inevitably be our party’s nominee for President. He has proven himself to be a thoughtful, knowledgeable, and inspirational leader and will take America in a new direction, which we desperately need.

    “The Bush Administration has been a huge disappointment. Mr. McCain, while certainly an American hero, represents more of the same failed Bush policies.

    “I am deeply concerned about the contentious primary campaign and controversy surrounding the seating of delegates from Florida and Michigan – two states Democrats need to win in November. I will not support changing the rules in the fourth quarter of this contest through some convoluted DNC rules committee process. Yet, we must find a resolution to seat the Michigan and Florida delegates so these states’ voters are represented at the Convention. I believe we need to avoid this potentially divisive situation by uniting behind one nominee and bringing the party together immediately. Therefore, I have made the decision to support Senator Obama at the Democratic Convention in my role as a super delegate.”

    Democratic voters in Cardoza’s district went 60.3 percent for Clinton, 33.2 percent for Obama in the Feb. 5 presidential primary; the district is registered 48.1 percent Democrat, 34.4 percent Republican and 13.7 percent decline-to-state.

    UPDATE @ 1:15 P.M. FRIDAY: It appears this could be the start of something big: Al Giordano’s The Field reports that Cardoza may be the first of several dozen Democrats to switch from Clinton to Obama in an effort to convince her the race is over.

    Posted on Friday, May 23rd, 2008
    Under: Barack Obama, Democratic Party, Dennis Cardoza, Elections, General, Hillary Clinton, John McCain, U.S. House | No Comments »

    Vice President DiFi, or Vice President Boxer?

    The Hill asked all 97 U.S. Senators who aren’t currently running for president the same question: “If you were asked, would you accept an offer to be the VP nominee?”

    U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif.: “I’m not the right choice for the Democrats because they’re going to carry California. So they should really look elsewhere. And I can really help them right here in the Senate as chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee.”

    U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.: “Of course. I think anybody would.”

    There were a few other, er, interesting answers…

    U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa: “No, I’d have Jon Stewart stand in for me. Jon Stewart. That’s my guy.”

    U.S. Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va.: “No, I can already preside over the Senate, and I do not enjoy spending a lot of time at ‘undisclosed locations.’ ”

    And maybe best of all, U.S. Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho: “I would say ‘No, Hillary.’ ”

    Visit the Hill’s Web site for the complete list of verbatim answers.

    Posted on Tuesday, May 13th, 2008
    Under: Barack Obama, Barbara Boxer, Dianne Feinstein, Elections, General, Hillary Clinton, John McCain, U.S. Senate | No Comments »

    More on the ‘gas tax holiday’

    Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez — chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee and the Democratic Policy Committee, as well as former chairman of the Natural Resources Committee — says this about the idea of suspending the federal gas tax for three months this summer a solution to high gas prices:

    miller.jpg“The call by Sens. Clinton and McCain to temporarily suspend the federal tax on gasoline is a short-sighted stunt that will hurt consumers and do nothing to reduce the price of gas.

    “American consumers and our economy need a real solution to the energy crisis, not an empty trick. You can run cars on a lot of different fuels, but snake oil isn’t one of them.

    “In the hopes of winning votes, the Senators are preying on consumers’ justified anxiety about the economy without offering a solution to their real problems. There’s nothing in our history to indicate that oil companies will pass on any savings to the consumer. So despite the McCain and Clinton gas tax holiday, the price at the pump will continue to rise and oil companies will take even more of the profit.

    “My constituents are reeling from the highest gas prices in the country. But they understand that we can only break the oil chokehold and bring prices down by investing in highways and mass transit, new technology, renewable energy, and energy efficiency.

    “Siphoning off the political energy from these necessary steps to focus instead on a plan that some political consultants favor is cynical politics. Taking a break from the federal gas tax and the hundreds of thousands of jobs it produces is harmful to the long-term economic well-being of our country.

    “Sen. Clinton knows it is not easy to pass a windfall profits tax on oil companies. We have been trying to rein in record oil profits for years, and the House has repeatedly passed legislation to roll unjustified federal oil subsidies and invest instead in renewable energy – but President Bush and Senate Republicans have blocked us. Some of the subsidies we are trying to eliminate started under President Bill Clinton’s administration.

    “Sen. Clinton is trying to intimidate members of Congress into validating her bad policy prescriptions. Congress should reject her and Sen. McCain’s idea. Relief from soaring gas prices will only come from smart investments and real change in our energy policy.”

    Also, as I’d noted last week, it could cost the country hundreds of thousands of jobs. Today, I see the American Road and Transportation Builders Association estimates that number at 310,750 — including 23,107 jobs right here in California.

    And for what? Check out this calculator to see how much you would save. It ain’t much… and that’s assuming most prominent economists are dead wrong when they say demand and prices would simply rise to about the same levels they’re at now.

    But, hey, what do those economists know, anyway?

    Posted on Monday, May 5th, 2008
    Under: Barack Obama, Elections, General, George Miller, Hillary Clinton, John McCain, U.S. House | No Comments »