What happened to the inevitable candidate? Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., wasn't supposed to have to work this hard for the 2008 Democratic nomination. But now, coping with the fallout of a leaked campaign memo and facing her own potential $87 billion moment (this time, the price tag is $95 billion), Clinton is facing internal dissent and the possibility of widespread intra-party anger over -- again -- her position on the Iraq war.
Democrats are deeply divided and liberal groups downright angry over the war-funding bill that could come up for a vote as soon as today. And the leaked memo is being subjected to scrutiny worthy of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Clinton herself is shooting it down as the candid advice of one aide, but what does it say about the state of her campaign that the deputy campaign manager, Mike Henry, would even suggest that Clinton "pull completely out of Iowa"? How well is second-quarter fund-raising going if Henry is worried that spending $15 million in the Hawkeye State would leave only $5 million to $10 million to spend in the states that vote Feb. 5?
Most intriguingly, what happened to the vaunted Clinton campaign discipline, marching in lockstep with utter confidence? "Part of the news was that the memo leaked at all: The Clinton campaign prides itself on being airtight, and any lapse is viewed as evidence of an internal power struggle," write The Washington Post's Anne Kornblut and Dan Balz.
The memo, first reported by the Associated Press, prompted Clinton herself to get on the phone with Iowa reporters. "I make the decisions, and I've made the decision that we are competing in Iowa," she told The Des Moines Register's Thomas Beaumont.
Back on the action in Congress, Clinton was testy yesterday when asked about how she would vote on the war-funding bill, ABC News' Jake Tapper reports. With former senator John Edwards, D-N.C., and Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., joining MoveOn.org (and, incidentally, Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass.) in opposing the bill, "either route chosen will bring with it huge potential political pitfalls" for Clinton and Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill, Tapper writes.
Democrats are bracing for mass defections on the Iraq vote, with perhaps half of the caucus voting against the measure, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. "The idea that many Democrats would be left on the losing side in a consequential vote has exposed a sharp divide within the party, drawn scorn from antiwar groups, confused the public and frustrated the party rank and file," writes Carl Hulse in The New York Times.
They knew it was going to be bad, but did Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., misjudge this one? "It's what the Republicans wanted," Rep. Lynn Woolsey, D-Calif., told Politico's Josephine Hearn.