SNEAK PEEK: The Clintonian Straddle

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As Hillary Clinton has known since her days at Wellesley, it has never been easy being a "mind conservative" and a "heart liberal."

And on Wednesday, the Clintonian Straddle was downright excruciating.

One day after being pilloried for talking out of both sides of her mouth on New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer's plan to give driver's licenses to illegal immigrants, the Clinton campaign struggled to clarify the former first lady's position.

"Senator Clinton supports governors like Governor Spitzer who believe they need such a measure to deal with the crisis caused by this administration's failure to pass comprehensive immigration reform," the Clinton campaign told the New York Times mid-afternoon.

Rather than clarifying matters, the statement set off another round of head-scratching.

Was she backing the plan? Or just the man?

Was Spitzer doing the right thing? Or the wrong thing?

In an updated version of the same story on the New York Times' caucus blog, the Clinton campaign told Nagourney that its Wednesday statement was "intended to offer her support for Mr. Spitzer's latest version of the plan which involved a two-tiered system of awarding licenses to illegal immigrants." LINK

By broadly endorsing Spitzer's effort, Clinton will expose herself to intense criticism from the GOP presidential candidates even as she seeks shelter from the Edwards-Obama line of attack that she is trying to have it both ways.

If you feel like you've seen this Clinton-Spitzer movie before -- you have.

Go back and look at what Clinton told gay activists about Spitzer's pledge to sign a same-sex marriage bill if the New York state legislature were to pass one.

She wasn't for it. Nor was she against it.

Instead, she told a group of gay and lesbian leaders "if our governor and our legislature support [gay] marriage in New York, I'm not going to be against that." LINK

On Thursday, Clinton is heading to Wellesley College, her alma mater, for a 10:30 am ET rally. Wellesley is where Clinton first grappled with the difficulties of being, in the words she wrote at the time, "a mind conservative" and a "heart liberal."

Back in Washington, D.C., EMILY's List plans to discuss its pro-Clinton Iowa push, at 1:30 pm ET. It will also preview the first wave of its 2008 campaign to mobilize female voters.

Final note: Ron Brownstein's new book -- "The Second Civil War" -- hits bookstores tomorrow.

Brownstein's book, which covers 1896 through the present, looks at how changes in party coalitions, the role of outside groups, the media, congressional rules, and presidential strategies have created the country's current hyperpartisanship.

The book's final chapter includes an interview with former President Bill Clinton who offers five guidelines for unifying leadership: (1) meet with key constituencies in the other party, (2) build bipartisan trust and momentum (i.e., he should have done welfare reform ahead of health-care reform), (3) don't let groups like the NRA think that their government views them as "pariahs," (4) look for areas of common ground, and (5) "cast a broad net" -- even though Clinton think that no president is likely to win support from more than 55 percent of voters in the foreseeable future, Clinton thinks presidents should aim to talk to 65 percent of the electorate.

Schedule details

HILLARY CLINTON

--10:30 am ET: Attends event at Wellesley College, Wellesley, MA

--3:00 pm ET: Speaks at the University of New Hampshire, Durham, NH

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