During the end of September, the media was advancing the Hillary coronation, buoyed by her breaking 50% in a single, Washington Post/ABC News poll and beating Obama in fundraising for the third quarter. Now there seems to be a backlash against that perception, exemplified by the slew of headlines on RealClearPolitics today. There’s “Foes Doubt Clinton Electability”, “Opponents:Remember Dean”, and the kicker, “Hillary Reigns as Queen of Federal Pork”. On a side note, a cohesive argument can hardly be made for comparing Dean’s spectacular collapse to Hillary’s campaign. Hillary’s perceived by the Democrats as the most electable candidate and is also running a much more savvy campaign than Dean did.
However, the pork barrel issue stood out, even though Hillary has been accused of federal largesse in the past. According to Taxpayers for Common Sense, Hillary placed $2.2 billion worth of earmarks in spending bills from 2002-2006. In contrast to her website’s pledge for “a return to transparency”, her campaign refused to respond to requests that she identify her earmarks. This is also the candidate who in the last debate harped on fiscal responsibility as the first step to solve the Social Security problem.
One last note on the topic of money and politics. Hillary outraised Obama for the first time this quarter, surpassing him by $3 million in primary money. Obama doesn’t take contributions from lobbyists and PACs, but Hillary accepts them. In the first half of the year, lobbyists and PACs donated a combined $1 million to Hillary’s campaign. With the “Hillary is inevitable” argument gaining traction during the end of the quarter, it’s likely that organizations desiring influence in a Clinton White House opened their pocketbooks. It may be a stretch to put the number at $3 million, but it was a factor enabling her to eclipse Obama.