On TODAY this morning, Al Gore called Iraq "a very bad situation" and urged Bush to try to "separate out" the personal issues: "It's not about him, it's about our country finding a way" to bring troops home. Pressed by NBC's Matt Lauer about how he'd handle the situation, Gore called it "the equivalent of a car wreck," saying that "when it's in the process of happening, you make judgments in the moment." Gore also said that he isn't hearing any presidential candidate talking enough about his pet issue of global warming, "but it's early." He said he's "not planning to run," though he hasn't completely ruled it out.
Gov. Tom Vilsack (D) told reporters yesterday that the decision to go into Iraq was rushed, that he was concerned over how much power was given to the executive branch in the process ("We didn't have to go to war on that particular day"), and that Bush should make an effort to keep communications open with families of soldiers who have died in Iraq. He added that he thinks Bush would "learn a little" by talking with them.
In a controversial statement for a candidate from a farm state, Vilsack told the Des Moines Register that Congress should move money away from subsidizing the agricultural industry and instead invest in environmental conservation.
As she prepares for a presidential bid in which the first contests will be in smaller states (like Iowa and New Hampshire), Sen. Hillary Clinton yesterday struck a deal with Republicans on legislation that would free up more AIDS funding to rural states -- at the expense of larger states and cities. Clinton and other senators from New York and New Jersey had initially opposed the reauthorization of the Ryan White CARE Act because it would cut their states' AIDS funding. Under the compromise that was reached, however, their states wouldn't lose as much money.
The Washington Post front-pages Clinton's recent series of moves: "No final decision on running is expected before the end of the year, according to sources knowledgeable about her thinking, as Clinton works methodically through a checklist of preparatory steps. But she and her inner circle are already ramping up." This morning she's having breakfast with Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin (D).
The New York Daily News reports that Clinton has invited "dozens" of Iowans to her Washington mansion next week to discuss her presidential aspirations.
The Democratic Governors Association has a new chair: Kathleen Sebelius, governor of Kansas. Although Sebelius was elected in 2002 and is now in her second term, her new role will spotlight Democratic gains in the Midwest last month. Sebelius takes over from Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico, who's expected to announce in January (whether) he's seeking the party's presidential nomination. Richardson's three-day stint in Washington this week includes a major address on immigration reform at Georgetown tomorrow. He and his aides have been looking for a point of entry for him on this debate, which allows him to showcase his credentials as a border-state governor and as a Latino.