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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Insider Intrigue

If you like political “insider” stories, there are two of them creating a big buzz in Washington this morning that touch on the Democratic presidential contest.
First up is a big Washington Post front-pager by Peter Baker and Anne Kornblut that details the much-rumored infighting within Hillary Clinton’s campaign. The lede pretty much summarizes the whole piece:

For the bruised and bitter staff around Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, Tuesday’s death-defying victories in the Democratic presidential primaries in Ohio and Texas proved sweet indeed. They savored their wins yesterday, plotted their next steps and indulged in a moment of optimism. “She won’t be stopped,” one aide crowed.
And then Clinton’s advisers turned to their other goal: denying Mark Penn credit.

Much of the story is about Penn, HRC’s pollster and sometimes “chief strategist,” who vocally and successfully urged the candidate to go after Barack Obama’s credibility as a potential commander-in-chief, encapsulated in the now-famous “3 a.m. ad.” Penn has some personal issues with other HRC staffers that go back to his days advising Bill Clinton. And according to the story, he’s come within inches of getting fired on a couple of occasions during this campaign.
The most interesting revelation in the article may have been this tidbit about HRC:

One of Clinton’s favorite books is “Team of Rivals,” Doris Kearns Goodwin’s account of Abraham Lincoln’s Cabinet, and she assembled her own team of advisers knowing their mutual enmity in the belief that good ideas come from vigorous discussion

An example of this “vigorous discussion” is a pithy exchange between Penn and long-time “rival” Harold Ickes during a campaign conference call:

“[Expletive] you!” Ickes shouted.
“[Expletive] you!” Penn replied.
“[Expletive] you!” Ickes shouted again.

Meanwhile, in other obscure but politically significant news, there’s been a strange new twist in the so-called “NAFTA-Gate” saga.
Ian Brodie, chief of staff to conservative Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, has been a prime suspect in the leaking of a memo by Canadian conciliar officials discussing a meeting with Obama economic advisor Austan Goolsbee in which the Canadians were allegedly reassured that Obama’s candidate’s attacks on NAFTA were “political positioning,” not an indication of future policy.
Nobody’s yet documented this claim about Brodie, but now it transpires that he told a group of reporters back on February 26 that the Canadian diplomats had been approached by someone from Hillary Clinton’s campaign with reassurances similar to those Goolsbee’s accused of offering. Meanwhile, Brodie has ordered an investigation of the leaks of the memo about the Goolsbee meeting. Lord only knows where this story’s going next.

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