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What do you want, Hillary?

More and more people are questioning how far right Hillary Clinton is willing to go for fishing votes.


[usa] Hillary Rodham Clinton is supremely renowned for a new term in the Senate.

The run-up to a possible presidential election for Hillary Clinton in 2008 is in full swing.

The senator's thank-you speech to the state party congress that took place in Buffalo, New York, in May this year, was perceived as the confirmation of her candidacy that the delegates had been waiting for.

The emphasis in the speech was not on local issues, despite Clinton representing New York State in the Senate. Instead, she lashed out at President George W. Bush, his neglect of the environment, the working class, and, not least, the Bush administration's "disastrous foreign policy." The result did not wait:

standing applause and words of praise from most wings in the party.

New face

However, the Liberals are concerned. They claim Clinton in an attempt to reach a broader constituency has moved so forcefully to the right that she is in danger of losing her own political foundation. She points to her support for the Iraq invasion and her growing friendship with arch-conservative media mogul Rupert Murdoch.

Last week, she was literally bowed off the stage during a liberal congress in New York, due to her opposition to US troops withdrawing from Iraq. This is just one of a series of cases in which Clinton is on a collision course with her own party. She has described abortion – for which she has previously been a strong advocate – as "a tragic choice". She has introduced a bill against flag burning in the Senate, and lobbied intensively for a ban on violent video games. This is a completely unacceptable policy for the formerly so loyal liberal wing of the Democratic Party. Key political analysts are also questioning Clinton's new political face.

Richard Cohen of the Washington Post challenged the possible presidential candidate in leadership: "Does she even know what she believes in? Do we know what she believes in? Hillary, help us. Who in the world are you really? ”

However, a survey conducted at Quinnipiac University in May showed that sky-high 81 percent of New York's Democratic voters thought Clinton was doing a great job. This, combined with a sovereign economic lead over other possible candidates, indicates that she can count on becoming the leading democratic candidate before the primary elections in 2008. So far in this election campaign, she has collected 20 million dollars, or 120 million kroner. But Clinton's economic situation could also create murmurs at home: After the US tax authorities recently announced that Clinton is listed with 50 million dollars in wealth, ie 300 million Norwegian kroner, the liberal base has accused her of becoming part of the political upper classes.

As of today, however, she can count on the support of close to 40 percent of the democratic voters. It is miles ahead of former presidential and vice presidential candidates John Kerry and John Edwards, who get a support of 14 and 13 percent, respectively.

However, the population is divided. A poll published by the television company ABC in May showed that 38 percent considered voting for her, while as many as 57 percent considered voting for the possible Republican candidate, Senator John McCain from Arizona. Independent voters will also support McCain over Clinton. To win over Republicans, she must continue her delicate balancing act of fishing votes among center-right voters without offending her own liberal base. The problem does not diminish in light of the fact that the United States has more declared conservatives than liberal voters.

Democrats in several tipping states, such as Missouri, are also skeptical. The party leadership here fears that Clinton is too urban and instructive in her style and therefore not eligible for election. Thus, the majority may rather come to support a Republican candidate. And if the Democrats lose there, it could mean that at least 30 other tipping states will follow. Then the battle for the White House will be lost. Measurements so far show that Clinton only has secure support in 16-17 states.

Winning characteristics

However, political strategists from both parties point to Clinton's unique winning qualities. Two examples illustrate this: At a memorial concert in Madison Square Garden after September 11, 2001, she was, as last week, bowed by the stage. The rescue crews and the families of the victims did not think it was time to profile a true liberal. Today, however, the pipe has a different sound, and Clinton has almost achieved hero status as this group's perhaps most important supporter in Washington DC. She holds a similar position among the influential Jewish population of New York. After being slaughtered for her support of a Palestinian state, she took a delegation on a high-profile trip to Israel. When she returned to New York, this group had also changed their perception of her.

In addition, Hillary Clinton has the Democrats' party machinery on her side. Former presidential candidate and current party leader Howard Dean has worked intensely to strengthen local governments in all states, a strategy developed by Clinton's staff. The same group secured husband Bill two terms in the White House and should therefore know what they are doing.

Power first, then branding

The strategists also do not believe Clinton's controversial views on the Iraq issue or opposition to gay marriage will weaken her chances. The Democratic Party is aware of what is at stake, and most of the party's interest groups have said they are willing to throw their flagship issues in favor of a democratic victory this time around. The issues can be concentrated on after the party has regained power, it is said. Her inner circle, where gays and lesbians are well represented, will definitely take care of that.

Before 2008, the first goal is to regain control of Congress and the Senate in the autumn elections. Democrats have cause for optimism. Polls indicate that they are well on their way to winning the 15 seats needed to get a majority. Only in the state of New York are the Democrats likely to win back three or four seats, and the polls show the same trend in other tipping states. The Senate can be a tougher challenge, because only a third of the seats will be elected in this round.

In any case, few doubt that Clinton can become the most central democratic figure in the next two years, despite widespread opposition. A key adviser to the Democratic Party puts it this way: “If you think she has only a ten percent chance, plus at least 20 percent.

Never underestimate a Clinton! ”

By Henning André Søgaard, New

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