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First thoughts: Now Bill 'misspoke,' twice

From Chuck Todd, Mark Murray, and Domenico Montanaro
*** Now Bill "misspoke" -- twice: Stumping in Indiana yesterday, Bill Clinton resurrected the Bosnia sniper fire story, per NBC/NJ's Mike Memoli. "[T]here was a lot of fulminating because Hillary, one time late at night when she was exhausted, misstated, and immediately apologized for it, what happened to her in Bosnia in 1995," he said. "Did y'all see all that? Oh, they blew it up." He went on to say, "I think she was the first first lady since Eleanor Roosevelt to go into a combat zone. And you would've thought, you know, that she'd robbed a bank the way they carried on about this. And some of them when they're 60 they'll forget something when they're tired at 11:00 at night, too." He said something similar at a later stop. How many things were wrong in his remarks? She didn't just once misspeak -- at 11:00 pm -- about the Bosnia story; she did it numerous times, and not just at night. The trip, moreover, took place in '96, not '95. And Hillary wasn't the first first lady since Eleanor Roosevelt to visit a combat zone; Pat Nixon went to Saigon in 1969, as Politico's Ben Smith reminds us. What was Bill thinking? Bill may be one of those pols who believe you confront a negative, instead of ignoring it. And if you show that you don't believe a negative, then folks won't hold it against you as much -- at least those are the lessons Bill learned in '92 and '98, right? 

VIDEO: NBC Political Director Chuck Todd discusses Bill Clinton bringing up his wife's Bosnia story twice yesterday and Obama's choice to not distribute "street money" to get out the vote in Philadelphia.

*** What happens when press secretaries are away: By the way, just asking: If Bill had a traveling press person with him yesterday -- he didn't, in case you're wondering -- would the former president have made the mistake TWICE? Seriously, why was Bill Clinton traveling without a campaign press chaperone yesterday? In the words of Ted Knight in "Caddyshack": "Bil-ly, Billy, BillyBillyBilly, Billy, BillyBillyBilly, Billy." Seriously, what was the former president thinking when he decided to bring up the Bosnia story and then do so with the incorrect facts? Watching Bill on the trail makes folks wonder whether he could have held up to scrutiny in 1992 had YouTube and instant fact-checking existed back then. No one has seemed less prepared for the intense scrutiny of this campaign than Bill. He seems to forget that even when he's in rural Indiana, he's on the national stage. In '96, the Clinton campaign thought their local market strategy was innovative (it was), since it allowed him to talk to key media markets outside of the interference of the national press. Now, the national press is everywhere since local can become national in an instant. Today's Bill Clinton gaffe is going to revive this question: Has Bill Clinton helped HRC's bid more than he's hurt it? She may not have gotten this far without him, but is he preventing her from getting to the finish line?

*** Conflicts of interest: Bill resurrecting the Bosnia sniper story isn't the only Bill story today that might be giving the Clinton campaign headaches. On TODAY this morning, NBC's Lisa Myers looked at the money that Bill, his foundation, and his library have received -- from Frank Giustra, Vinod Gupta, the Saudi Royal Family, and others -- that might be potential conflicts of interest if Hillary ends up winning the White House. "Over the last seven years," Myers said, "the Clintons have brought in huge amounts of money, earning more than $100 million to build their personal fortune and raising $500 million for the Clinton foundation and library. Critics complain there are many unanswered questions about who gave the money, and why." More from Myers: "Sen. Clinton's campaign maintains she has provided more information than any other candidate. And the Clintons say IF she becomes president, they will reveal any foundation donors from that point on."

*** Counting the delegates: Before the primaries began, there were 76 vacant superdelegate spots. Some of these so-called "add-ons" are now beginning to trickle out, filled by state parties after conventions or other processes. Four of these add-ons have said, in one way or another, that they will be backing Obama. We are also adding one to Clinton's total -- Mona Mohib (DC) -- and subtracting one because one supporter is no longer on the DNC's list of delegates. Clinton's lead in the superdelegate count is now: 259-230. In the overall count, Obama leads by 135 (1,646-1,511). He has a 164 pledged-delegate lead (1,416-1,252). And we noted yesterday, the unease for both campaigns as they file delegate slates in California is high. The campaigns were removing names of people they thought might be harboring feelings for the other candidate. In fact, the AP reports today that amid complaints from those delegate, the Obama campaign reinstated about 850 people and the Clinton campaign about 50.

*** Street money: With Pennsylvania being an old machine politics state -- especially in Philly -- there's a history of providing walking-around money, something that is legal and something Obama's campaign has refused to do. As the Los Angeles Times reports, "Obama's posture confounds neighborhood political leaders sympathetic to his cause. They caution that if the senator from Illinois withholds money that gubernatorial, mayoral and presidential candidates have willingly paid out for decades, there could be defections to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York. As polls show the race in Pennsylvania getting tighter and tighter, does this story serve to downplay expectations a bit for Obama, even as Obama is flooding the state with ads? With the governor and the mayors of Philly and Pittsburgh behind Clinton -- and now Philly ward leaders possibly upset with Obama -- how does the Illinois senator end up winning Pennsylvania? By the way, this story isn't implying that the Clinton campaign is using walking around money; in fact, it's not clear they have the extra resources to do this if needed. But since the entire state party machinery is behind Clinton's candidacy, there are other entities who could do this for her. 

*** Channeling Teddy Roosevelt? McCain starting to sound like a big-government Republican on the economy now. Why? Because he has to... Here he is yesterday in New York: "Let me make it clear that in these challenging times, I am committed to using all the resources of this government and great nation to create opportunity and make sure that every deserving American has a good job and can achieve their American dream." This was basically a reversal of his policy statement a few weeks ago, when he called for very limited government intervention in the housing crisis. Politically, McCain may have no choice as to do this, but it's going to drive the Club for Growth types crazy. And if McCain loses, it will be yet another reason conservatives use to blame the party for not being conservative enough. This is the great risk of the McCain nomination as far as the party's concerned. Despite the evidence showing McCain may be the ONLY Republican to keep the party in the game in 2008, if he loses, conservatives will use McCain's ideology as the excuse and force an ideological food fight in '09, which could only end up being more destructive in the short term.

*** On the trail: Clinton spends her day campaigning in Philadelphia; McCain hits fundraisers in Irving and Lubbock, TX before attending a rally in Lubbock; and Obama stumps in Indiana, making stops in Columbus, Bloomington, and Terre Haute. Bill Clinton is also in Indiana, while Chelsea campaigns in Pennsylvania.

Countdown to Pennsylvania: 11 days
Countdown to North Carolina, Indiana: 25 days
Countdown to Election Day 2008: 207 days
Countdown to Inauguration Day 2009: 284 days
 
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