BIDEN: On Iraq: "There is zero evidence of any political accommodation between sectarian forces, and the surge has had no impact on reconciliation."
CLINTON: The Los Angeles Times reports -- before the announcement by the campaign to dump all of the Hsu-related money (some $850K) -- that "new evidence surfaced that the Clinton camp had dismissed allegations about Hsu made by a Southern California businessman. In an e-mail obtained by The Times, a Clinton campaign staffer told a California Democratic Party official in June that the businessman's concerns were unwarranted. "'I can tell you with 100 certainty that Norman Hsu is NOT involved in a ponzi scheme,' wrote Samantha Wolf, who was a campaign finance director for the Western states." He is COMPLETELY legit."
Did the Clinton campaign go too far? One prominent DC attorney thinks so. "Stanley Brand, a former House counsel who often represents legislators in ethics matters, called the Clinton campaign's decision 'a ground-shifting event,' though not a step he would have recommended. 'I understand it's politically driven. They don't want to be tainted,' he said. 'But they're going to give back a lot of money if they do this every time there's an allegation against a fundraiser.'"
The Washington Post: "The refunds, among the largest in political history, come after weeks of reports about Hsu's controversial history and murky business practices. Clinton officials said that the senator, acting out of 'an abundance of caution,' had directed the campaign to return donations from about 260 contributors tied to Hsu because of his apparent involvement in an illegal investment scheme… Aides also said the campaign will begin conducting criminal background checks on big fundraisers to prevent a similar incident from occurring in the future."
By the way, once the Clinton campaign returns the money this month, the donors are welcome to give again, according to spokesperson Howard Wolfson. "We will accept their contributions and ask them to confirm for our records that they are from their own personal funds," he said in an e-mail.
Yesterday, the Los Angeles Times reported that California businessman Jack Cassidy said he tried to warn the Clinton campaign about Hsu. But NBC's Andrea Mitchell talked to Cassidy, and he acknowledged that he only emailed Arkansas Sen. Mark Pryor's Web site twice and never made any other effort to notify the Clinton campaign. Cassidy described himself as an Orange County Republican and Clinton critic.
In other campaign fundraising news, Bill Clinton was in Chicago Monday night, where he raised at least $125,000, according to the Baltimore Sun. About 600 people attended the sold-out event at a sushi restaurant. Ticket prices ranged from $100 o $1,000.
After Clinton signed a pledge to not campaign in Florida, she said she would meet with a group of Florida senior citizens and do five fundraisers. But it apparently depends on what the meaning of campaigning is. The Politico's Smith writes: "This isn't violation of the letter of the agreement with Iowa and the other early states about not campaigning in Florida; that apparently doesn't kick in until the DNC's deadline runs out at the end of this month." But the Des Moines Register's Yepsen writes," One thing we learned during Bill Clinton's presidency was to study and parse his words carefully. Apparently we'll need to do that with his wife should she become president."
EDWARDS: The Dallas Morning News decided that the Texas Dem internet straw poll was legit enough to write about it. Edwards won it.
The campaign announced a new initiative inviting supporters to help Edwards rebuild New Orleans. From a release: "Between today and the end of September, Edwards supporters will be able to enter their names in a drawing by visiting the John Edwards campaign website. No contribution is necessary to enter the drawing. In the beginning of October, five names will be selected at random for the opportunity to go with Edwards to help rebuild New Orleans."
Of course, when he heads to New Orleans, will this invite questions as to what, personally, Edwards is doing to help the New Orleans homeowners who were foreclosed on by the mortgage company with ties to the hedge fund Edwards worked for? Edwards told the Wall Street Journal last month -- when this issue was first discovered -- that he would personally help hurting homeowners.