Monday, March 31, 2008

Clinton vs. Obama vs. McCain: Lobbyists $

Hillary has a post on her Fact Hub page that blasts Obama for saying he does not accept money from lobbyists. She cites several situations in which he does, including the quote below. That is not to say that she is clean but I guess the point is that she doesn't claim to be. I've added some comments in red:

Obama has taken $405,747 from the Pharmaceutical industry. [opensecrets.org] Obama was #1 but Hillary is #3 at $404,646. McCain is #11 at $121, 750.

Obama has received $1,185,937 from the Commercial Banking industry. [opensecrets.org] That put Obama at #2. But guess who is #1: Hillary at $1,223,724. McCain is #5 at $748,405.

Obama has received over six million dollars from the Securities & Investment industry. [opensecrets.org] Obama is #2 again and Hillary is #1 again with about $250,000 more than Obama. McCain is #6 at $2, 605,486.

Obama has taken $608,822 from the Insurance industry. [opensecrets.org] Barack was #5 but Hillary beat her out at #4 with $809, 261. McCain is #6 at $395,682.

Obama has taken $168,584 from the Mortgage Banking industry. [opensecrets.org] Hillary is #1 ($199, 315) with Barack #2. McCain is #6 at $58,825. By the way, Fox News is running a story about Hillary's campaign manager, Maggie Williams, who was on the board of one of the once one-time top sub-prime lenders.

Obama's presidential campaign has received $2,812,336 from firms that employ registered federal lobbyists. [fec.gov] I cannot find a reference to this amount at the link provided.



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Sunday, March 30, 2008

Clinton vs. Obama: Buying Superdelegates?

It seems that both Hillary and Barack have been using money to influence superdelegates to vote for them, at least according to CapitalEye.org. This seems very despicable to me. Here are a few quotes:
And while it would be unseemly for the candidates to hand out thousands of dollars to primary voters, or to the delegates pledged to represent the will of those voters, elected officials who are superdelegates have received at least $904,200 from Obama and Clinton in the form of campaign contributions over the last three years, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics. ...

Obama, who narrowly leads in the count of pledged, "non-super" delegates, has doled out more than $698,200 to superdelegates from his political action committee, Hope Fund, or campaign committee since 2005. Of the 82 elected officials who had announced as of Feb. 12 that their superdelegate votes would go to the Illinois senator, 35, or 43 percent of this group, have received campaign contributions from him in the 2006 or 2008 election cycles, totaling $232,200. In addition, Obama has been endorsed by 52 superdelegates who haven't held elected office recently and, therefore, didn't receive campaign contributions from him.

Clinton does not appear to have been as openhanded. Her PAC, HILLPAC, and campaign committee appear to have distributed $205,500 to superdelegates. Only 12 percent of her elected superdelegates, or 13 of 109 who have said they will back her, have received campaign contributions, totaling about $95,000 since 2005. An additional 128 unelected superdelegates support Clinton, according to a blog tracking superdelegates and their endorsements, 2008 Democratic Convention Watch. ...

The money that Clinton and Obama have contributed to the superdelegates who may now determine their fate has come from three sources: the candidates' campaign accounts for president and, before that, Senate, and from their leadership PACs. These PACs exist precisely to support other politicians in their elections—and, thus, to make friends and collect chits. Leadership PACs are supposed to go dormant after a presidential candidate officially enters the race.

An update two weeks later said:
Two weeks ago, Capital Eye reported a connection that superdelegates have to the candidates that voters and pledged delegates don't—nearly $1 million in campaign contributions. As the uncommitted superdelegates have been deciding which candidate to support at this summer's nominating convention, the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics has identified an additional $42,800 that flowed in the last three years from Clinton or Obama's coffers into the hands of superdelegates with campaign accounts, bringing the total to $947,000.

Clinton's updated total to superdelegates, who include Democratic members of Congress, Democratic National Committee members, former party leaders and state governors, is $236,100 for 2005-2008, compared to Obama's $710,900. Looking back before the 2006 election cycle, though, the two are on more even ground. ...

For those elected officials who had endorsed a candidate as of Feb. 25, the presidential candidate who gave more money to the superdelegate received the endorsement 82 percent of the time.
A correlation does not necessarily indicate causation. Candidates may help other friends out when their campaigns need money so it would be likely that the friends would support each other when it comes to pledging. However, my gut tells me that this situation is just not right.

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Friday, March 28, 2008

Clinton vs. Obama: Michigan and Florida

Here's a look back at the press releases that each candidate made regarding the pledge to not campaign in Michigan or Florida. Hillary's statement was short and said the following in its entirety:

The following is a statement by Clinton Campaign Manager Patti Solis Doyle. "We believe Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina play a unique and special role in the nominating process. And we believe the DNC’s rules and its calendar provide the necessary structure to respect and honor that role. Thus, we will be signing the pledge to adhere to the DNC approved nominating calendar."

Barack's statement was a little longer but also included this urging to Michigan and Florida:

... Obama campaign officials also urged states in danger of violating DNC rules to adjust their plans to comply with the DNC's calendar, so that every state contributes delegates to the nominating process. "To become the Democratic nominee for president, a candidate must secure a majority of delegates to the national convention," said Obama campaign manager David Plouffe. "Because states that violate DNC rules will not be allowed to contribute to the delegate tally, we urge all states to ensure their compliance with DNC rules so they can participate in our Democratic nominating process. ...
In a recent press release, Hillary's campaign said this: "Sen. Obama’s has previously emphasized the importance of counting all votes. So why won’t he make sure the voters of Michigan and Florida have their votes count?" At least she cannot say that he didn't warn them.


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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Clinton vs. Obama: Exaggerations

Caught in her own exaggeration on Bosnia, Hillary has just put out a press release listing 10 exaggerations by Barack. Her press release says:
They are personally attacking Hillary even though Sen. Obama has been found mispeaking and embellishing facts about himself more than ten times in recent months.
["Misspeaking" is misspelled by the way] She is saying "see Barack is embellishing too." So, she is admitting that she was embellishing, not simply making a misstatement.

It always comes down to Hillary feeling that she is being personally attacked. She still links to attacktimeline.com from her Fact Hub page. Doesn't she realize that she is attacking as much or more than Obama? She seems to have a persecution complex. Maybe because she leaves herself wide open to attack.

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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Hillary misspeaks about Bosnia

Hillary Clinton's Fact Check makes this statement:
Hillary recently misspoke about her trip to Bosnia.
She said she was "landing under sniper fire." "Misspoke" is the kindest word that can be used by her campaign. Words the campaign would not use: lied, embellished, exaggerated, overstated, inflated, aggrandized. She was either deliberately misspeaking or her memory is really bad.
Here is a CBS YouTube video that does a good job of showing the exaggeration:

The Fact Check post also makes this point:
Contemporaneous news accounts confirm that Hillary’s trip to Bosnia was a dangerous situation:
I believe that wording is also an exaggeration. The real point would be that she was in a potentially dangerous situation that was well under control at the time. So, it seems that even the campaign is misspeaking in their explanation of Hillary's misspeaking.

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Monday, March 24, 2008

Obama: Typical white person

So, what did Barack Obama mean with this statement on a morning radio show [emphasis added]:
"The point I was making was not that my grandmother harbors any racial animosity, but that she is a typical white person. If she sees somebody on the street that she doesn't know - there's a reaction in her that's been bred into our experiences that don't go away and sometimes come out in the wrong way and that's just the nature of race in our society. ..."
What a poor choice of words. Here are just a few of the sites that have cited the quote:

Philly.com this also has a response from the Obama campaign:
UPDATE: We gave the Obama campaign a chance to respond to this post. "Barack Obama said specifically that he didn't believe his grandmother harbored any racial animosity, but that her fears were understandable and typical of those often shared by her generation," said Obama's PA spokesman Sean Smith, who added that Grandma is 86-years-old. He might have meant that specifically, but that isn't what he said, especially as he spoke of his grandmother, Madelyn Dunham, in the present tense. The Clinton campaign has not yet returned our request for comment on Obama's remarks. We aren't holding our breath for a Clinton comment.
BusinessWeek.com
YouTube
FoxNews.com not CNN though (although apparently Larry King talked about it on his show)
United Press International

I'm sure Obama can explain this away but he should be a little more careful when choosing his words.

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Sunday, March 23, 2008

Clinton vs. Obama vs. McCain: Easter


So, what do each of the candidates have to say about Easter? Just looking at official press releases from Hillary Clinton, since January, showed the following releases recognizing various holidays or anniversaries:

Hillary Clinton Recognizes National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day
Senator Clinton Recognizes Black History Month
Senator Clinton Recognizes Frederick Douglass Day
Clinton Campaign Staff and Volunteers Observe the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday
Statement by Senator Hillary Clinton Commemorating Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Birthday

For the same time period, these are from Barack Obama:

Obama Statement Commemorating the Persian New Year
Obama Statement Commemorating Purim
Obama Statement on Women's History Month

[Note: Barack has an official statement for Women's History month but not Black History month while Hillary has one for Black History month but not Women's History month.]

For the same time period John McCain had these releases:

Statement By John McCain On Fifth Anniversary Of Iraq Invasion
Statement By John McCain On Third Anniversary Of The Cedar Revolution

However, McCain did clearly recognize Easter on his home page which is where the picture above comes from.


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Saturday, March 22, 2008

Bill Clinton's comments in Charlotte

Hillary's campaign is trying to soften what Bill Clinton said in a speech in Charlotte. The campaign statement, on Hillary's Fact Hub, says the following. I've added a few comments in red.

Fact Check: What Bill Clinton Said In Charlotte

3/21/2008 7:58:36 PM

Some are suggesting that the following remark by President Clinton was intended as a personal attack:

I think it would be a great thing if we had an election year where you had two people who loved this country [What does "if" mean here? People are reading between the lines and thinking that the "if" means Clinton vs. McCain but not Obama vs. McCain. Since Bill likes to define words carefully (remember his comment about "is" during his scandal?), his use of "if" would imply that he means "if" and that people are right in assuming he is questioning Obama's patriotism, while speaking to a group of veterans.] and were devoted to the interest of this country and people could actually ask themselves who is right on these issues, instead of all this other stuff that always seems to intrude itself on our politics

Actually, as is indicated by the quote itself, President Clinton was talking about the need to talk about issues, rather than falsely questioning any candidate's patriotism [If his point is to have people focus on the issues, then he could have addressed that a lot more directly than he did.].

He was lamenting that these kind of distractions "always seems to intrude" [I doubt he was lamenting. I believe he was purposely bringing up the issue to slam Obama and then carefully choosing his words to try and make it look like he was just addressing distractions.] on political campaigns. This is consistent with his criticism of the "politics of personal destruction," which dates back 16 years.


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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Hillary vs. the polls

Hillary Clinton has made this statement in a press release on March 18th:
A new USA Today/Gallup poll has Hillary leading McCain nationally by 5 points (51-46). The same poll shows Sen. Obama would be in a much tighter race, leading McCain by only 2 points.
I always like to go to the source but I cannot find the results that she mentions. At the Gallup web site this statement can be found, dated March 18th:
There has been no change in the relative positioning of the two Democratic candidates when pitted against John McCain in hypothetical trial heats for the fall election. McCain has a very slight 2-point advantage over Obama. McCain is tied with Clinton, as he has been the last four days.
So, what poll is she referring to? I cannot find it on the USA Today web site either.
If I were Hillary I would not draw too much attention to the polls. Gallup shows that people see her as the most dishonest candidate, by far.
Hillary Clinton is rated as "honest and trustworthy" by 44% of Americans, far fewer than say this about John McCain (67%) and Barack Obama (63%).
Other bad news for Hillary from this poll:
Also, Obama (62%) and McCain (61%) finish well ahead of Clinton in terms of being able to "work well with both parties in Washington to get things done."
One final dimension underscores another potential vulnerability for Clinton -- 47% of Americans say she is someone they would be proud to have as president (51% say they would not be proud to have Clinton). Obama (57%) and McCain (55%) both score above the majority level on this measure, which highlights that both tend to fare better on basic likability measures than Clinton.

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Sunday, March 16, 2008

Clinton vs. Obama: Earmarks

Hillary is trying to fight back against Obama's request that she reveal her latest tax returns and her earmarks. I have a couple of problems with regard to some information on her "Fact Hub" on the campaign website.

In referring to an AP article, she states this which appears to be true from the article:
Sen. Bradley also claimed that Sen. Obama has "revealed all of his earmarks - all the earmarks that he sponsored." That's also false. Sen. Obama refuses to release the vast majority of earmarks he requested as a state senator.
However, in that same article she skips over this:
Since entering the U.S. Senate and launching his presidential campaign, Obama has made a political issue of openness.
He voluntarily discloses the "earmarks" he adds to the federal budget; Clinton does not. He initially released only one year's worth of earmark information, but on Thursday he released his requests for the 2005 and 2006 federal budget years, too.
At the end of her Fact Hub post she makes this assertion with links to the same AP article. However, while the statement below may be true, this information cannot be found in the linked article.
The list of U.S. Senate earmarks requests Sen. Obama recently released also does not appear to include a number of requests he made jointly with Sen. Durbin.

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Do the Iraqis want us to leave?

In a comment to my previous post on the candidates' statements on Iraq, it says [I have added comments in red]:
What is often left out of this debate is what the Iraqis themselves want. We know very little about what it's like to live in Iraq under occupation by a foreign military, yet we assume that if we pull out, things will only get worse. If the US government is serious about "promoting democracy" shouldn't we be listening to what Iraqis want? According to a Washington Post article [click here for the article] from Dec. 19, 2007, "The Iraqis of all sectarian and ethnic groups believe that the U.S. military invasion is the primary root of the violent differences among them, and see the departure of 'occupying forces' as the key to national reconciliation, according to focus groups conducted for the U.S. military [The good news is that at least the military is trying to get this information.] last month." [While I do not doubt that this is the case, I always prefer to see the original report rather than rely on a reporter's interpretation of the report. However, I cannot find it anywhere. If anyone knows where I can find the source document, I would appreciate it.] According to a poll conducted for the BBC and ABC News in 2007 [click here for the poll results], 78% of Iraqis oppose the presence of coalition forces in Iraq. [see Q21 below]

Here are some questions from the poll with some results:

Q7 Not personally, but in terms of Iraq, what in your opinion is the single biggest problem facing Iraq as a whole? The highest was lack of security/safety (general) 23%. Next was terrorist attacks at 13%. U.S. occupation/presence was only at 8%.

Q19 Do you strongly support, somewhat support, somewhat oppose, or strongly oppose the presence of Coalition forces in Iraq? A total of 79% oppose the presence of Coalition forces. Of the 79%, 26% are only somewhat opposed while 53% are strongly opposed. I would expect that any people would not want a foreign military presence so these results are not too surprising. The question is when should they leave. See the next question.

Q21 How long do you think US and other Coalition forces should remain in Iraq? Should they leave now, remain until security is restored, remain until the Iraqi government is stronger, remain until Iraqi security forces can operate independently, remain longer but leave eventually, or never leave? 47% say leave now. For the majority who say that they should not leave now 34% say they should remain until security is restored, 10% said remain until the government is stronger, 7% said to remain until security forces can operate independently, and 2% said remain longer but leave eventually. Incidentally, the way this question is asked makes it look like the largest percentage want the forces to leave now. But when you add up the others, 53% want them to stick around awhile longer.

Q22 Overall, do you think the presence of US forces in Iraq is making security in our country better, worse, or having no effect on the security situation? 72% say worse.

Q27 Who do you blame the most for the violence that is occurring in the country? They rate the U.S at 19% (down from 31% the previous Feb) and Pres. Bush at 8%. Al Qaeda/foreign jihads were rated higher at 21% and Iran at 11%.

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Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Clinton vs. Obama vs. McCain: Troops in Iraq

Here is a comparison of what the leading candidates say about education on their "issues" pages of their campaign web sites. These are just excerpts but I have provided the links if you want to read all of what they say. I assume that these issue statements were carefully decided upon and carefully crafted to appeal and communicate to a national audience (as opposed to a speech directed to a particular special interest audience). I have added some comments in red.

Clinton:
As president, one of Hillary's first official actions would be to convene the Joint Chiefs of Staff, her Secretary of Defense, and her National Security Council. She would direct them to draw up a clear, viable plan to bring our troops home starting with the first 60 days of her Administration.

Obama:
Obama will immediately begin to remove our troops from Iraq. He will remove one to two combat brigades each month, and have all of our combat brigades out of Iraq within 16 months. Obama will make it clear that we will not build any permanent bases in Iraq. He will keep some troops in Iraq to protect our embassy and diplomats; if al Qaeda attempts to build a base within Iraq, he will keep troops in Iraq or elsewhere in the region to carry out targeted strikes on al Qaeda. [Seems naïve to give specific numbers of troops with a specific time frame. Hillary's approach of directing the military to make a plan seems more realistic.]

McCain:
A greater military commitment now is necessary if we are to achieve long-term success in Iraq. John McCain agrees with retired Army General Jack Keane that there are simply not enough American forces in Iraq. More troops are necessary to clear and hold insurgent strongholds; to provide security for rebuilding local institutions and economies; to halt sectarian violence in Baghdad and disarm Sunni and Shia militias; to dismantle al Qaeda; to train the Iraqi Army; and to embed American personnel in Iraqi police units. Accomplishing each of these goals will require more troops and is a crucial prerequisite for needed economic and political development in the country. America's ultimate strategy is to give Iraqis the capabilities to govern and secure their own country. [As unpopular as the war is, and given seemingly widespread agreement that going into Iraq was a mistake, does McCain have a point here? Given the current situation, regardless of whether or not we should be in this situation in the first place, is he right? Do we let opposition to the war hold us back from being totally committed and thereby drag the war on further?]

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Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Hillary Clinton's claims of foreign policy experience

I noticed that in Hillary Clinton's Fact Hub she has a post entitled: "The Facts: Hillary and Kosovo." She was being defensive on this I thought I would check out why. The Associated Press put out a report questioning some of Hillary Clinton's claims to foreign policy experience. Here is a quote from the article you can find at MSNBC.com, ABCNews.com and Fox News.com (emphasis added):

There is little doubt that Clinton was an exceptionally activist first lady. She was the first to set up shop in a West Wing office alongside other White House policymakers, and immediately was in the thick of domestic policy deliberations, most notably her long and unsuccessful fight for health care reform.

Clinton also took a keen interest in foreign policy, traveling to more than 80 countries, with her husband and alone, to promote U.S. policy and the cause of women and children.

But Clinton is taking credit for accomplishing more than some of those who were active in foreign policy during the Clinton years recall.

CNN.com ran their own article. They were a little kinder. Here is a quote:
In some cases, CNN found a lack of clarity on her real involvement in foreign policy affairs. But in other cases, her claims do seem to check out fairly well.
Basically, if former foreign policy experts are now Clinton supporters, they say she had a big impact. However, if they are now Obama supporters, they question her role and her claims.

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Sunday, March 09, 2008

My thoughts on Democratic delegates from Michigan and Florida

Both states look like they may be moving to a reasonable conclusion regarding getting the DNC to seat delegates from their respective states. The bottom line for me is this:

(1) Michigan and Florida understood that they were breaking party rules by holding their primaries early. They also understood the consequences. So, if they do not get to seat their delegates at the Democratic National Convention, then they get what they deserve.

(2) That said, it would be a shame not to have their input in this very important and close Democratic candidate race.

(3) There has to be a do-over because the "primaries" they held already were clearly not fair.

(4) The sticking point is who pays for a do-over. I say that the Democratic parties in Florida and Michigan should pay. The DNC should not bail them out. Ideally there should be no general impact on taxpayers.

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Friday, March 07, 2008

out of town for a couple days

Going to Idaho for a few days. Next post on Sunday.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Hillary Clinton and her tax returns

There is a CNN article entitled "Obama camp; What's Clinton hiding?" It reports on a call from the Obama campaign for Hillary to be transparent about her financial situation. Here is the official response from Hillary's campaign web site (with my comments in red):

Statement from Howard Wolfson, Communications Director

3/5/2008 1:16:32 PM

Faced with many legitimate questions about Senator Obama's long-time relationship with indicted political fixer Tony Rezko, the Obama campaign has chosen to lash out [wah! wah! Barack is just picking on me] at Senator Clinton.

Here are the facts:

Over 20 years of the Clintons' tax returns are in the public domain [that is not the issue; what about the most recent returns?].

Their tax returns since they left the White House will be made available on or around April 15. [she has returns that must already be done so why the 15th of April? Why not now? Makes you wonder if there is something to hide.]

This information will be in addition to 15 years of uninterrupted public financial disclosure reports. [again, the issue is not what has previously been disclosed, the issue is what about now? the reason for the delay would be what?]

Instead of making false attacks [what is false about a question that Obama is asking?], we urge Senator Obama to release all relevant financial and other information related to indicted political fixer Tony Rezko [this is an issue for Obama to be sure but this is just Hillary's attempt at deflecting criticism of her].

Monday, March 03, 2008

Rush Limbaugh for Hillary Clinton

Interesting development. I noticed that CNN has an article on Rush Limbaugh urging his listeners to vote for Hillary in the primaries so that the Democrats can self-destruct. Here is a screen shot of Rush's home page as of 9:00 pm EST tonight.



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Clinton vs. Obama vs. McCain: Russia

Hillary, Barack, and John issued statements on the election of Dmitriy Medvedev to be Putin's successor as Russian president. All three see the election as a farce, which of course it was. Here is a comparison of what they say about the issues the U.S. will have to deal with concerning Russia, as opposed to concerns about what is happening inside Russia. I have provided links to each of the statements. Huckabee made no statement. [my comments are added in red]

Hillary Clinton: ... "we are witnessing renewed disputes between Russia and many of its neighbors." [specifically she notes: Estonia, Georgia, the Balkans] ... [she then makes some comments about how she would do much better than Pres. Bush has done] ... "I will be ready to work with Russia where our interests intersect – fighting terrorism and nuclear proliferation are just two examples ..."

Barack Obama: ... "The United States, however, will need to work with President Medvedev on a range of issues of common concern, such as preventing weapons of mass destruction from falling into the hands of terrorists, addressing Iran's nuclear ambitions, reducing our nuclear arsenals, and securing stable supplies of oil and gas from Russia. ..." [His statement is far shorter than Hillary's but is a little more specific in some sample issues.]

John McCain: [McCain's was the shortest and only dealt with the tragedy of the election.]



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Clinton vs. Obama vs. McCain: Voting Records (PART II)

Here are a few more rankings from interest groups. I have not found many significant differences between Hillary and Barack. By the way, I found a web site that seems to have fairly comprehensive lists of rankings and ratings of Senators and their voting records: Congressional Report Cards.org.

Education for the 110th first session (National Education Association)

Hillary Clinton (A)
Barack Obama (A)
John McCain (F)

International Issues (energy, climate, Darfur, U.N., torture, health, etc.) for 2007 (Citizens for Global Solutions)

Hillary Clinton (A+)
Barack Obama (A+)
John McCain (B-)

Right to Life for 109th session (National Right to Life Committee)

Hillary Clinton (0%)
Barack Obama (0%)
John McCain (75%)

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