Former Aide Takes Shots at Edwards

By Politics
Thursday, May 24, 2007

Robert Shrum, the veteran Democratic strategist who worked on John Edwards's 1998 Senate campaign in North Carolina, does not remember his onetime client very fondly.

In his new memoir, "No Excuses: Concessions of a Serial Campaigner," Shrum recalls asking Edwards at the outset of that campaign, "What is your position, Mr. Edwards, on gay rights?"

"I'm not comfortable around those people," Edwards replied, according to Shrum. He writes that the candidate's wife, Elizabeth, told him: "John, you know that's wrong."

Edwards's pollster, Harrison Hickman, who was in the room during the discussion, says Shrum "is sensationalizing and taking out of context what was an honest discussion about [Edwards's] lack of exposure to these issues and openly gay people. I don't remember anything that expressed any kind of venom or judgment about gay people."

Edwards spokesman Eric Schultz says Shrum "has a very casual relationship with the truth. Bob is obviously more interested in selling books than reporting honestly and accurately about what happened."

While praising Edwards as a man of "many innate political gifts," Shrum says he hoped the senator wouldn't run for the White House in 2004: "I was coming to believe he wasn't ready; he was a Clinton who hadn't read the books."

When Shrum called to say he had decided to join the presidential campaign of another former client, Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), Edwards was angry. "I can't believe you would do this to me and my family. I will never, ever forget it, even on my deathbed," he quotes Edwards as saying.

-- Howard Kurtz

Edwards Rejects 'War on Terror'

In a foreign policy address yesterday, Edwards rejected the phrase "war on terror" as a "bumper sticker" and promised to restore the United States' standing around the world if he is elected president.

Edwards, in a speech at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York, called the Bush terrorism doctrine a "sledgehammer" that has created more terrorists than it has eliminated. Edwards did not address the fact that he used the phrase "war on terror" during the 2004 campaign.

"The war on terror is a slogan designed only for politics -- it is not a strategy to make America safe," Edwards said . "It is a bumper sticker, not a plan. It has damaged our alliances and weakened our standing in the world."

-- Anne E. Kornblut

Clinton Targets Gay Donors

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) held her first major fundraiser targeting gay and lesbian donors in the 2008 election cycle last night, with several hundred guests expected at the Mayflower Hotel for the event. Among the members of the host committee: Hilary Rosen, the recording industry lobbyist, and Fred P. Hochberg, dean of Milano, the New School for Management and Urban Policy.

Nearly 40 backers were listed as sponsors of the "lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community for Hillary" event. "There's obviously some disappointment about marriage," Rosen said, referring to gay marriage, which Clinton does not support. But, she said, all leading Democratic candidates are "consistent on that issue, so that's kind of taken off the table here."

"I think there's a growing awareness among the community that like so many other issues, Senator Clinton understands how to address the complicated issues of supporting gay families and partnerships and dealing with discrimination issues. And I just think she'll be a smarter, better president for our community," Rosen said.

-- Anne E. Kornblut

Romney, Dodd Unveil New Ads

In an effort to raise their profiles in Iowa and New Hampshire, Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney (R) have unveiled new television advertisements.

In his ad, Dodd claims that his appeal to front-runners Sens. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and Clinton to support legislation that would cut off funds for the war in Iraq by March 31 paid off, with the ad saying: "It worked. Now Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton have changed their positions to follow Chris Dodd."

Romney's ad focuses on the state he governed for four years. "In the most liberal state in the country, one Republican stood up and cut spending, instead of raising taxes. He enforced immigration laws, stood up for traditional marriage and the sanctity of human life."

"In the toughest place," the ad concludes, "Mitt Romney's done the toughest things."

-- Zachary A. Goldfarb

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