The Huffington Post's Sam Stein: "During the past week, Sen. Hillary Clinton has presented herself as a working class populist, the politician in touch with small town sentiments, compared to the elitism of her opponent, Sen. Barack Obama. But a telling anecdote from her husband's administration shows Hillary Clinton's attitudes about the 'lunch-bucket Democrats' are not exactly pristine. In January 1995, as the Clintons were licking their wounds from the 1994 congressional elections, a debate emerged at a retreat at Camp David. Should the administration make overtures to working class white southerners who had all but forsaken the Democratic Party? The then-first lady took a less than inclusive approach."
"'Screw 'em,' she told her husband. 'You don't owe them a thing, Bill. They're doing nothing for you; you don't have to do anything for them.' The statement -- which author Benjamin Barber witnessed and wrote about in his book, 'The Truth of Power: Intellectual Affairs in the Clinton White House' -- was prompted by another speaker raising the difficulties of reaching 'Reagan Democrats.'"
In the spin room after last night's debate, NBC/NJ's Athena Jones reports, Clinton communications director Howard Wolfson said Clinton was quoted inaccurately and that she did not say it. Wolfson reiterated that on MSNBC's Morning Joe. "It ain't so. It ain't so," he said. "This is not something that occurred." Wolfson dismissed it as a sign of the "situation" that the Obama campaign is in. "It did not happen," he said again.
First Read, however, spoke with Barber, who confirmed the "screw-em" remark but wanted to add some context:
-- He pointed out that everyone in that room back in '95 was angry about the Republicans taking over Congress. The only person who wasn't angry was Bill, who (as the HuffPo piece also explains) talked about the importance of reaching out to white southerners.
-- He noted that the Hillary from '94-'95 was a MUCH different person from the Hillary in Bill's second term. She had moved from ideological liberal to a pragmatic leader. He says his 2001 book, in fact, has a chapter on this transformation.
-- He is a Hillary Clinton supporter and has given Clinton money.
"The Operative Plasterers' and Cement Masons' International Association, which represents about 45,000 plasterers and cement masons in the construction industry in North America, announced its support for Clinton."
The New York Post highlights the man in Clinton's ad who is registered to vote in New Jersey.