Wednesday, October 31, 2007

A Day Later, Clinton Embraces Spitzer’s License Effort
By Adam Nagourney
October 31, 2007, 4:13 pm
A day after she appeared to struggle to give her views on the subject, Hillary Rodham Clinton offered support today for Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s effort to award New York driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants, as her campaign sought to contain potentially damaging fallout from a what her own supporters saw as a tense and listless debate performance.
Mrs. Clinton’s statement affirming her support of Mr. Spitzer in his office came less than a day after she offered a muddled and hesitant position on the bill, prompting a round of denunciations by her opponents. It signaled the extent to which her advisers viewed that moment as the biggest misstep she made in the debate, and one with long-term potential to undermine her candidacy.
“Senator Clinton supports governors like Governor Spitzer who believe they need such a measure to deal with the crisis caused by this administration’s failure to pass comprehensive immigration reform,’” her campaign said.
Mrs. Clinton’s voice of support for Mr. Spitzer’s plan suggested her advisers believed it was politically wiser to embrace a position that could clearly hurt her in a general election rather than risk providing more fuel to what has emerged as a damaging line of criticism: That she, taking advantage of her dominant position in some polls, is not being candid about her views and about would she would do as president.
That argument was voiced by Senator Barack Obama, an Illinois Democrat, in an interview leading up to the debate and set the framework for two hours of attacks on Mrs. Clinton. And it continued this morning as Democratic and Republican presidential candidates attacked her for her answer on Social Security.
“She is a habitual evader,” said Mr. Obama’s senior strategist, David Axelrod.
And Rudolph W. Giuliani, the Republican presidential candidate who has spent more time attacking Mrs. Clinton than any of his opponents, pounced as he offered a preview of what a Clinton-Giuliani race might be like, should both win their party’s nomination, in a radio interview with Randy Beck.
“You know, she was being attacked all night for taking different positions in front of different audiences and then by the end of the night, she took different positions in front of the same audience,” he said. “It was pretty amazing. I mean, in politics I’ve never quite seen that before.”

Gerald W. McEntee, presented Mrs. Clinton with a pair of red boxing gloves today. (Photo: Doug Mills/The New York Times)...

October 18, 2007, 5:18 pm
Clinton Takes Stand on Driver’s License Issue (Sort Of)
By Nicholas Confessore
Updated, 6:45 p.m. | In a recent sit-down interview with the board of The Nashua Telegraph, a leading New Hampshire newspaper, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton finally was asked what she thinks of Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s policy to allow illegal immigrants to get driver’s licenses.
Her answer? Judge for yourself:

I think it’s important to bring everybody out of the shadows. To do the background checks. To deport those who have outstanding warrants or have committed crimes in the United States, and then to say to those who wish to stay here, you have to pay back taxes, you have to pay a fine, you have to learn English, and you have to wait in line. And I hate to see any state being pushed to try to take this into their own hands, because the federal government has failed.
So I know exactly what Governor Spitzer’s trying to do and it makes a lot of sense, because he’s trying to get people out of the shadows. He’s trying to say, “O.K., come forward and we will give you this license.”
But without a federal policy in effect, people will come forward and they could get picked up by I.C.E. tomorrow. I mean, this can’t work state-by-state. It has to be looked at comprehensively. I agreed with President Bush and his efforts to try to approach this. He just didn’t have the political capital left by the time he actually got serious about it.
And it’s unfortunate that too many people are using this to demagogue the issue, instead of trying to solve it: you know, people in politics, people in the press, and there’s a kind of unholy alliance.
There are a couple of different things going on here. She does say the policy “makes a lot of sense,” which is close to saying she supports it but not quite. And like the governor, she laments the tone of the debate, and takes an implicit swing at state Republicans and outlets like The New York Post or Lou Dobbs’s show.
So the Spitzer administration could take that as an endorsement.
There is, however, that “but.”
Like some members of the Legislature who are wavering on the issue, Mrs. Clinton sort of burrowed past the question, saying the real problem is that Washington hasn’t come up with a comprehensive immigration reform. She doesn’t quite say she is on board with Mr. Spitzer’s plan to give licenses to illegal immigrants, the issue at hand.
Interestingly, she also takes the tack that the policy would put illegal immigrants at the risk of being picked up by immigration authorities — something that has been a concern of immigration advocacy groups...

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