Fishy Donors Haunt Hillary’s Run

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Toss in this warning from former governor Tom Vilsack, D-Iowa, a prominent Clinton supporter, and you'll remember why no lead is safe. "There's a lot that the rest of the country is going to get to know about Mayor Giuliani that the folks in New York City know," Vilsack told the TV station NY1, per the New York Post's Carl Campanile. "I can't even get into the number of marriages and the fact that his children -- the relationship he has with his children -- and what kind of circumstances New York was in before Sept. 11." Really, governor, you can't get into it?

As for Obama, the Rev. Jesse Jackson may or may not have said that Obama is "acting like he's white" by staying on the sidelines of the "Jena 6" debate, but this isn't the first time that Obama has faced criticism from black leaders for not coming out aggressively enough on a full-blown civil-rights media event. (Remember Imus? Al Sharpton does.)

Jackson released a statement saying he's still firmly behind Obama's candidacy, but by that time the case involving six black Louisiana teens already morphed into a full-blown campaign issue -- with Jackson's comments dropping a bomb on the race. Elizabeth Edwards saw off a bus of protesters headed to Jena. Clinton took a break from her healthcare media tour to squeeze in an interview on the Sharpton's radio program -- "capitalizing on the rift," as the New York Post's Geoff Earle put it.

Obama yesterday weighed in forcefully, calling the case a "tragedy" and (finally) calling for charges to be dropped. But he lost an opportunity to own an issue that's resonating with prominent black leaders. The New York Sun's Nicholas Wapshott sees Obama's early silence raising his own stakes: "Senator Obama's presidential ambitions may rest on how he responds to the trials in Jena, La.," Wapshott writes. "As the sole black candidate in the presidential race, the Illinois Democrat is under mounting pressure from black political leaders to side more strenuously with the accused and object more clearly to the actions of the LaSalle Parish district attorney."

The battle for black voters is playing out inside the Congressional Black Caucus, which is split 11-9-3 between Obama, Clinton, and Edwards. Per The Hill's Jonathan Kaplan, "Obama's supporters are privately crying foul because they feel that the group's neutrality is being subverted by Chairwoman Carolyn Kilpatrick (D-Mich.) and Rep. Kendrick Meek (D-Fla.), chairman of the CBC Foundation, who have invited Clinton to a forum at next week's Annual Legislative Conference at the Washington Convention Center."

The fervor over Jena distracted from Obama's new ad, which itself was something of a response to Clinton with its call to "bring an end to decades of division and deadlock."

Clinton's healthcare plan dominated political discussion for another day. Stung by comparisons to his own plan, Romney seeks to spell out the differences in a Wall Street Journal op-ed. "Her plan has several weaknesses and should be distinguished from the reforms I led in Massachusetts and the reform plan I have proposed," Romney writes, hopefully. "Let's be clear here: My plan in Massachusetts worked very differently than Sen. Clinton's plan would." This won't be Romney's last stab at being "clear."

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