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Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Should Legislators Follow the "Will of the People"?

Democratic presidential hopeful
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton,
D-N.Y., gestures during an event
to announce that Sen. Evan Bayh,
D-Ind., will support her
campaign. - Evan Vucci / AP

My comments at the end of the story.

Bayh endorses Hillary Clinton for president
By Maureen Groppe
Star Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON — Sen. Evan Bayh, who dropped his own bid for the White House in December citing the difficulty of running against celebrity Democrats, including Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, endorsed Clinton on Monday as the candidate with a “unique set of attributes to lead this country.”

“The next president of the United States must be experienced and seasoned, must be smart and must be tough,” Bayh said at a Capitol Hill news conference with the New York Democrat at his side. “I believe that Hillary Clinton is all of these things and more.”

The backing by Bayh, a moderate Democrat, could help Clinton with those who fear her reputation is too liberal to win the general election.

And should Clinton get the Democratic nomination, she might remember Bayh’s endorsement when selecting a running mate, a topic both did their best to sidestep Monday.

It’s unclear, however, whether Bayh, as a vice presidential candidate, would be able to deliver Indiana, which has not voted for a Democrat for president since 1964.

But political analyst Charlie Cook said that may not matter as a reason to select Bayh who would bring a reputation as a “highly regarded leader in the moderate wing” to assuage less liberal voters.

“While I think Indiana would be a very difficult state for any Democrat to win under any circumstances, I think Bayh would be on any short list of potential running mates, particularly for Clinton,” Cook said. “It isn’t about Indiana, it’s about the signal it would send.”

Republicans, however, said the signal Bayh’s endorsement sends is his eagerness to get to the White House rather than to represent Hoosier voters.“Evidently, the chance to be vice president is more appealing than standing against the kind of politics a Clinton ticket represents: bigger government, higher taxes, government-run health care, and a policy of retreat in the war on terror,” Indiana GOP Chairman Murray Clark said in a statement.

Bayh, who was considered for vice president in 2000 and 2004, said that position is not “the kind of thing you probably say no to” but is not the reason he endorsed Clinton.

“Decisions like that and the factors that influence it are just unknowable” so far in advance, he said.

Asked if she sees Bayh as vice presidential material, Clinton responded that “it goes without saying that his record of public service is extraordinary.”

“I have the highest personal and professional regard for him,” she said.

Former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack, who also ran for the nomination, endorsed Clinton in March and has been helping Clinton in his critical home state.

The Clintons and Bayhs have known each other for about two decades, dating back to when Bayh and Bill Clinton both served as Democratic governors of conservative states. Bayh and the Clintons are also active in the Democratic Leadership Council, a group of moderate Democrats that Bill Clinton led to steer the party away from its liberal wing.

Bill Clinton chose Bayh to deliver the keynote address at the 1996 Democratic National Convention when Clinton was nominated for re-election and referred to Bayh in his 2004 memoir as “a gifted leader who might be president some day.”

Linda Moore Forbes, Bayh’s deputy chief of staff, worked as President Clinton’s deputy political director.

Nancy Jacobson, who was chief fundraiser for the exploratory presidential campaign, now works for the Clinton campaign.

Both Hillary Clinton and Bayh stressed Monday how much they’ve gotten to know each other better through their Senate work.

Both members of the Senate Armed Services Committee, where they’ve built reputations as more hawkish Democrats, Bayh and Clinton traveled together to Iraq and Afghanistan in January and later jointly introduced legislation to improve health care for Iraq war veterans.

“We have continued to talk and think together about the best way forward,” Clinton said about their collaboration since the trip.Bayh is the eighth senator to endorse Clinton. Clinton, the early front-runner for the Democratic nomination, is the only Democratic presidential candidate who has been endorsed by a senator outside the candidate’s home state.

In addition to Bayh, the top elected Democrat in Indiana, Clinton’s campaign also is supported by Joe Hogsett, the former secretary of state under Bayh and a former Bayh aide. Bren Simon, a major Democratic Party donor from Indiana, has been helping Clinton raise money.

Among the other Democratic presidential contenders, former Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina and Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois have announced lists of endorsements by Hoosiers.

State House Majority Leader Russ Stilwell, former Indiana Democratic Party leaders Ann DeLaney and Robin Winston, and former Bayh aide Bill Moreau are among the Indiana Democrats who have endorsed Edwards.

Former Indiana Democratic Party Chairman Kip Tew and several state legislative members from Gary and Indianapolis are among the public supporters of Obama.

Tew said he’s heading Obama’s Indiana campaign because Obama is a “change candidate.”But Tew said Bayh’s endorsement of Clinton would help her in Indiana because people respect Bayh.
“Senator Obama, I’m sure, would’ve liked to have had Evan Bayh’s endorsement,” Tew said.

Reporter Lesley Stedman Weidenbener of the Louisville Courier Journal contributed to this story.

Contact Star Washington Bureau reporter Maureen Groppe at (202) 906-8118 mgroppe@gns.gannett.com.

Then an Indy Star online poll:

Do you think Sen. Evan Bayh should have endorsed Sen. Hillary Clinton's bid for president?

No: 72%

Yes: 28%

Total Votes: 3598

Note: The results of this poll are not scientific and reflect the opinions of only those who have chosen to participate.

I saw another poll on a local television station last night that nearly mirrored the Star's poll shown here. It is clear to me, that Senator Bayh, made this decision based not on what Indiana voters want, but painfully clear what Evan Bayh wants.

I had the honor of sitting down with Sen. Bayh (see.... I can be respectful to those I disagree with), and nine other veterans from Indiana last Tuesday. We were able to voice our support for our troops and give a clear message that nothing short of victory in Iraq and Afghanistan is acceptable to us.

Unfortunately, Senator Bayh did NOT take our stance that the Webb amendment was bad legislation for the troops as he voted for the amendment the very next day (the measure failed to gain the 60 votes necessary to pass filibuster).

I will give him credit that he voted FOR the condemnation of the moveon.org ad calling General Petraus a "betrayer" of his country.

I don't know the answer to the question the headline makes (I have my opinion), but clearly Senator Bayh, doesn't see the need to follow the will of the majority of the people of Indiana.