Clinton bucks the trend and rakes in cash from the US weapons industry
By Leonard Doyle in Washington
Friday, 19 October 2007
The US arms industry is backing Hillary Clinton for President and has all but abandoned its traditional allies in the Republican party. Mrs Clinton has also emerged as Wall Street's favourite. Investment bankers have opened their wallets in unprecedented numbers for the New York senator over the past three months and, in the process, dumped their earlier favourite, Barack Obama.
Mrs Clinton's wooing of the defence industry is all the more remarkable given the frosty relations between Bill Clinton and the military during his presidency. An analysis of campaign contributions shows senior defence industry employees are pouring money into her war chest in the belief that their generosity will be repaid many times over with future defence contracts.
Employees of the top five US arms manufacturers – Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Northrop-Grumman, General Dynamics and Raytheon – gave Democratic presidential candidates $103,900, with only $86,800 going to the Republicans. "The contributions clearly suggest the arms industry has reached the conclusion that Democratic prospects for 2008 are very good indeed," said Thomas Edsall, an academic at Columbia University in New York.
Republican administrations are by tradition much stronger supporters of US armaments programmes and Pentagon spending plans than Democratic governments. Relations between the arms industry and Bill Clinton soured when he slimmed down the military after the end of the Cold War. His wife, however, has been careful not to make the same mistake.
After her election to the Senate, she became the first New York senator on the armed services committee, where she revealed her hawkish tendencies by supporting the invasion of Iraq. Although she now favours a withdrawal of US troops, her position on Iran is among the most warlike of all the candidates – Democrat or Republican.
This week, she said that, if elected president, she would not rule out military strikes to destroy Tehran's nuclear weapons facilities. While on the armed services committee, Mrs Clinton has befriended key generals and has won the endorsement of General Wesley Clarke, who ran Nato's war in Kosovo. A former presidential candidate himself, he is spoken of as a potential vice-presidential running mate.
Mrs Clinton has been a regular visitor to Iraq and Afghanistan and is careful to focus her criticisms of the Iraq war on President Bush, rather than the military. The arms industry has duly taken note.
So far, Mrs Clinton has received $52,600 in contributions from individual arms industry employees. That is more than half the sum given to all Democrats and 60 per cent of the total going to Republican candidates. Election fundraising laws ban individuals from donating more than $4,600 but contributions are often "bundled" to obtain influence over a candidate.
The arms industry has even deserted the biggest supporter of the Iraq war, Senator John McCain, who is also a member of the armed services committee and a decorated Vietnam War veteran. He has been only $19,200. Weapons-makers are equally unimpressed by the former New York mayor Rudolph Giuliani. Despite a campaign built largely around the need for an aggressive US military and a determination to stay the course in Iraq, he is behind Mrs Clinton in the affections of arms executives. Mr Giuliani may be suffering because of his strong association with the failed policies of President Bush and the fact he is he is known as a social liberal.
Mrs Clinton's closest competitor in raising cash from the arms industry is the former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, who raised just $32,000.
"Arms industry profits are so heavily dependent on government contracts that companies in this field want to be sure they do not have hostile relations with the White House," added Mr Edsall.
The industry's strong support for Mrs Clinton indicates that she is their firm favourite to win the Democratic nomination in the spring and the presidential election in November 2008. In the last presidential race, George Bush raised more than $800,000 – twice the sum collected by his Democratic rival John Kerry.
Mr Edsall's analysis of the figures reveals that, over the past 10 years, the defence industry has favoured Republicans over Democrats by a 3-2 margin, making Mrs Clinton's position even more remarkable.
Candidate Clinton goes public with her private faith
She doesn't cede religious turf to conservatives but dismays some liberals.
Washington - She quoted one of her favorite passages in Scripture – where it says in the Epistle of James that "faith without works is dead." She spoke of "the sustaining power of prayer," and how her own faith journey is approaching the half-century mark. She applauded the work of churches in ministering to the sick, as Jesus did.
"For many of us the golden rule calls on us to act," she said.
And when Hillary Rodham Clinton had finished her address to the annual Global Summit on AIDS, the full house of 1,700 people at Saddleback Church in Orange County, Calif., rose in a standing ovation.
In the course of the New York senator's 11-month-old presidential campaign, her appearance last month at the Rev. Rick "Purpose Driven Life" Warren's megachurch represented a rare, bold foray into the predominantly conservative world of evangelical Christianity. Whether the warm reception translates into votes remains to be seen, but at the very least, Ms. Clinton signaled that she's not writing anybody off. Nor is she ceding any religious turf to her chief rival for the Democratic nomination, Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois, who addressed the AIDS summit at Saddleback last year.
While the former first lady has said that speaking publicly about her Methodist faith does not come naturally to her, the language of religion has in fact become a key element of her campaign. Typically, she has chosen like-minded audiences – from First Baptist Church in Selma, Ala., for a major civil rights commemoration last March, to a faith forum organized by the progressive group Sojourners last June, to countless other church appearances and meetings (and sometimes prayers) with religious leaders.
In South Carolina, which holds the crucial first Southern primary, her faith and values outreach program – called "For Such a Time as This," after a verse from the Book of Esther – is virtually synonymous with her overall campaign there. And in a state where half the Democratic primary electorate is African-American, reaching out to the black churches is a given. Late last month, she scored a coup in her competition with Senator Obama for black and religious voters, when 60 African-American ministers appeared on stage with her in Spartanburg, S.C., with another 20 in the audience.
"The senator's faith is something that's very personal and dear to her, but it's reflected in all things she does and all aspects of life, so it's a natural part of the campaign," says Zac Wright, spokesman for Clinton's South Carolina campaign.
It's also a highly organized part of the campaign. Right after the 2004 elections, Clinton telegraphed her robust effort to reach values voters as a presidential candidate. Speaking at Tufts University outside Boston, she called it "a mistake for the Democrats not to engage evangelical Christians on their own turf – essentially ceding the vote to President Bush." A year ago, Clinton hired Burns Strider, an evangelical Christian from Mississippi who ran faith outreach for the House Democratic Caucus, to organize her faith outreach.
In the broader national campaign, God talk does not infuse her every political activity. On issues, she may weigh in on what she sees as a "moral crisis" – as she has referred to the millions of children lacking health insurance – but rarely does she overtly invoke her Methodist faith or the Bible in pushing a political point. An exception is her discussion of immigration reform, in which she has declared that tough anti-illegal-immigrant legislation would "criminalize the good Samaritan ... and even Jesus himself."
To some Christian conservatives, Clinton's religious talk is yet another reason to look askance at her. After The New York Times published an interview with Clinton last July about her faith, conservative columnist Cal Thomas wrote: "This is a politician speaking, not a person who believes in the central tenets of Christianity."
But there are some on the right who take Clinton's faith at face value. Richard Land, head of public policy for the Southern Baptist Convention, has met both Clinton and Obama, and concluded that religion is an important part of their lives.
"My impression is that Clinton and Obama both come out of a social gospel kind of background, which is a long-standing tradition in our country, and that it's authentic with both of them," he says.
Hilary - We had a Huge Trust deficit, in part because the United States had, to be fair, we had helped to create the problem we are now fighting.
Interviewer - How?
Hilary - Because When the Soviet Union invaded Pakistan, we had this brilliant idea that we were going to come to Pakistan and Create a force of Mujahadeen, equip them with Stinger Missiles and everything else, to go after the Soviets inside Afghanistan. And we were successful, the Soviets left Afghanistan and then we said, Great, Goodbye, leaving these Trained people who were fanatical in Afghanistan and Pakistan, leaving them well armed, creating a mess frankly that, erm, at the time, we didnt really recognise. We were just so happy so see the Soviet Union fall and we thought ok fine, we're ok now. Everythings going to be so much better. Now you look back, the people we're fighting today, we were supporting in the fight against the Soviets.