Hil­lary draws fire for aliens an­swer

The Washington Times Weekly - - Front Page - By Christina Bellantoni

Sen. Hil­lary Rod­ham Clin­ton on Oct. 31 de­clined to clar­ify her po­si­tion on en­abling il­le­gal aliens to get driver’s li­censes de­spite sharp at­tacks from both Democrats and Repub­li­cans.

Democrats called her de­bate an­swer eva­sive, and Repub­li­cans re­buked her for say­ing New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s pol­icy of en­abling il­le­gals’ li­cens­ing “makes a lot of sense.”

In the Oct. 30 de­bate, Mrs. Clin­ton, in re­sponse to a ques­tion, said Mr. Spitzer ap­proved grant­ing the driver’s li­censes to “fill the vac­uum left by the fail­ure of this ad­min­is­tra­tion to bring about com­pre­hen- sive im­mi­gra­tion re­form.” She called it a pub­lic-safety is­sue.

Sen. Christo­pher J. Dodd of Con­necti­cut, the only Demo­cratic can­di­date to say di­rectly that he op­poses the idea, took note of its ap­par­ent un­pop­u­lar­ity with most vot­ers. “The idea that we’re go­ing to ex­tend this priv­i­lege here of a driver’s li­cense, I think, is trou­ble­some, and I think the Amer­i­can peo­ple are re­act­ing to it,” he said.

Mrs. Clin­ton later added: “I just want to add, I did not say that it should be done, but I cer­tainly rec­og­nize why Gov­er­nor Spitzer is try­ing to do it.”

When Mr. Dodd said driv­ing is a “priv­i­lege, not a right,” Mrs. Clin­ton at­tempted to ex­plain the gov­er­nor’s plan for “three dif­fer- ent li­censes” to deal with se­cu­rity, driv­ing and “then a spe­cial card that iden­ti­fies the peo­ple who would be on the road.” Mr. Dodd dis­missed that as a “bu­reau­cratic night­mare.”

“Un­less I missed some­thing, Sen­a­tor Clin­ton said two dif­fer­ent things in the course of about two min­utes,” gibed for­mer Sen. John Ed­wards. “Amer­ica is look­ing for a pres­i­dent who will say the same thing, who will be con­sis­tent, who will be straight with them.”

Sen. Barack Obama said he was “con­fused” by the for­mer first lady’s re­sponse. “I can’t tell whether she was for it or against it,” he said, adding he thinks giv-

ing il­le­gals li­censes is the “right idea” to make the roads safer.

She made no at­tempt to clar­ify her re­marks in a press call with sev­eral re­porters and as she ac­cepted a union en­dorse­ment, and the Clin­ton team used its Web site to ac­cuse crit­ics of “pil­ing on.” Her cam­paign pro­duced a video mesh­ing clips demon­strat­ing how of­ten her name was men­tioned in the de­bate.

Mrs. Clin­ton de­clined to an­swer a re­porter’s ques­tion about the de­bate dur­ing the tele­phone call about nu­clear waste at Yucca Moun­tain. She said the tele­phone call was to be only about nu­clear waste stor­age in Ne­vada. Her cam­paign did not re­spond to re­peated re­quests for fur­ther com­ment.

Clin­ton strate­gist Mark Penn’s post-de­bate dis­cus­sion with re­porters, posted on YouTube, in­vited fur­ther ac­cu­sa­tions of pars­ing words.

“What she sup­ports as a sen­a­tor is com­pre­hen­sive im­mi­gra­tion re­form. On a fed­eral level, she does not see that as a so­lu­tion,” Mr. Penn told re­porters. “I think she said it was a good idea for the gov­er­nor. She’s a sen­a­tor and a pres­i­den­tial can­di­date. I think that she said she sup­ports [. . . ] Spitzer’s idea for New York, but on a fed­eral level, she would not do that.”

Sev­eral news or­ga­ni­za­tions re­ceived a cam­paign state­ment that she “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.” The ar­gu­ment was es­sen­tially the same po­si­tion Mr. Penn had used the night be­fore, but came hours af­ter she said in the de­bate: “Do I think this is the best thing for any gov­er­nor to do? No.”

Much of the Oct. 31 re­sponse from crit­ics cen­tered less on the pol­icy, which polls show Amer­i­cans over­whelm­ingly op­pose, and more on whether Mrs. Clin­ton was be­ing straight with vot­ers.

Daily Kos blog­ger “ice­bergslim” came to a neg­a­tive con­clu­sion af­ter watch­ing the de­bate, say­ing Mrs. Clin­ton botched a ba­sic ques­tion.

“We will not get any straight, com­plete, hon­est an­swers from Clin­ton,” the blog­ger wrote. “If a can­di­date can­not an­swer a sim­ple driver’s li­cense ques­tion, why should we com­mit to un­cer­tainty in a can­di­date?”

For­mer Sen. Fred Thompson, Ten­nessee Repub­li­can, ac­cused her of “speak­ing out both sides of her mouth,” and called the Spitzer plan “a recipe for in­creased voter fraud.”

For­mer New York Mayor Ru­dolph W. Gi­u­liani told talk-ra­dio host Sean Han­nity he was sur­prised Mrs. Clin­ton said “two to­tally con­tra­dic­tory things about a sim­ple sub­ject [. . . ] . This is not like a re­ally com­plex ques­tion.”

Mr. Gi­u­liani, who leads na­tional polls for the Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial nom­i­na­tion, told an­other talkra­dio host, Glenn Beck: “Of course you don’t give out driver’s li­censes to il­le­gals. Among other things, it’ll make it even more dif­fi­cult to deal with all the fraud, all the forgery that’s go­ing on.”

The for­mer mayor praised Mr. Obama’s “right idea” re­sponse to the driver’s li­cense ques­tion as at least a clear an­swer, de­spite the dis­agree­ment be­tween the two men on the sub­stance.

A spokesman for for­mer Mas­sachusetts Gov. Mitt Rom­ney, a Repub­li­can, said the de­bate ex­change in­volv­ing Mrs. Clin­ton was “em­blem­atic of some­one who is both dis­mis­sive of ef­forts to en­force our na­tion’s im­mi­gra­tion laws and en­tirely un­will­ing to of­fer a straight an­swer to a very di­rect ques­tion.”

Peter Gadiel of 9/11 Fam­i­lies for a Se­cure Amer­ica, who strongly op­poses the li­censes idea, said his or­ga­ni­za­tion is of­fer­ing a $1,000 re­ward to any­one who can get Mrs. Clin­ton to “defini­tively an­swer” whether she sup­ports Mr. Spitzer.

“It’s crys­tal clear that driver’s li­censes were cru­cial to the 9/11 ter­ror­ists,” Mr. Gadiel said. “Il­le­gal aliens’ true iden­ti­ties are un­known, which means, in­evitably, ter­ror­ists and vi­o­lent felons will get li­censes.”

The Obama cam­paign sent a memo say­ing Mrs. Clin­ton’s de­bate per­for­mance “raised more ques­tions than it an­swered” and sug­gested her strat­egy is “to tell the Amer­i­can peo­ple as lit­tle as pos­si­ble, avoid the dif­fi­cult is­sues, and try to blur as many dif­fer­ences as pos­si­ble.”

Getty Images

Sen. Hil­lary Rod­ham Clin­ton picked up the en­dorse­ment of the Amer­i­can Fed­er­a­tion of State, County and Mu­nic­i­pal Em­ploy­ees union on Oct. 31, one day af­ter her an­swer to a de­bate ques­tion set off a firestorm of con­tro­versy.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.