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No Debating This: Clinton, Obama Agree on Legislation

Harry M. Reid, left, greets Barack Obama before a debate in Las Vegas on Jan. 15 that included Hillary Rodham Clinton and John Edwards. Reid wanted to drive up interest among voters.
Harry M. Reid, left, greets Barack Obama before a debate in Las Vegas on Jan. 15 that included Hillary Rodham Clinton and John Edwards. Reid wanted to drive up interest among voters. (By Ethan Miller -- Getty Images)

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By Mary Ann Akers And Paul Kane
Thursday, January 24, 2008

Looks as though Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) kept his word to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) in the one rare peaceful moment of the past month of their increasingly nasty primary campaign.

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During the Las Vegas debate on Jan. 15 -- which came after a week of fighting about the issue of race and the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.-- Clinton and Obama played nice for the crowd. Given a chance by the moderator, NBC "Nightly News" anchor Brian Williams, to ask Obama a question, Clinton asked if he would co-sponsor legislation to require the president to get Congress's approval before committing to Iraq long-term.

Almost perplexed by the softball question, Obama paused and said, "Well, I think we can work on this, Hillary." The crowd broke into laughter, then applause.

Sure enough, when the Senate reopened for legislative business Tuesday, Obama had signed on as third co-sponsor of the legislation, technically known as "S. 2426 -- A bill to provide for congressional oversight of United States agreements with the Government of Iraq."

Granted, this is hardly a cease-fire.

In the past week, the candidates have tussled over accusations of suppressing each other's voters in the Nevada caucuses, Obama accused Clinton of being a "corporate lawyer" for anti-union Wal-Mart, and Clinton accused Obama of representing a "slumlord" in Chicago.

Why Buy the Cow . . .

If you thought the presidential campaign was nasty, get a load of the GOP primary in the special election to replace the former speaker of the House, J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.). This race has it all: entrenched bitter enemies, dirty money, ice cream and dead cows (but not real dead cows).

One of the candidates is Jim Oberweis, Hastert's personal choice and the heir to a dairy fortune who has spent millions of his own money to run unsuccessfully for statewide office three times. His opponent is state Sen. Chris Lauzen, who has returned about $100,000 in donations from an Illinois company that was sued by the federal government over allegations of widespread sexual harassment.

Oberweis has viciously attacked Lauzen over the tainted contributions; Lauzen has repeatedly bashed Oberweis for being nothing more than a spoiled, rich ice cream maker.

Lauzen's recent mailings attacking Oberweis ran the message: "Good ice cream . . . yes; Good candidate . . . NO!" But the cartoon background was the best part of the mailer: Cute dairy cows rolled over dead in a pasture. It may be the first dead-cow mailer in political campaign history.

No one is having more joy -- schadenfreude alert! -- watching the bloody Republican primary than House Democrats, who hope that the divisiveness on the GOP side will give them a chance to win a traditionally Republican seat. Which is why the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee hopes its GOP friends will keep ignoring Ronald Reagan's golden rule that "thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican."

"The Republicans here have not just forgotten Reagan's 11th Commandment; they have used stone tablets to whack each other," DCCC spokesman Ryan Rudominer says with a hint of elation.


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