Flattery doesn't stop bloggers from booing Democrats

McClatchy NewspapersAugust 4, 2007 

CHICAGO — Liberal bloggers booed Hillary Clinton Saturday when she refused to rule out taking campaign contributions from lobbyists, a rare sore point as she and other Democratic presidential candidates courted the increasingly influential online commentators.

Most of the candidates appeared at the second annual "YearlyKos" convention, vying with one another to lavish praise on the bloggers, whom they said help counter the influence of conservatives at the Fox News Chanel and on talk radio.

The candidates all vowed to end the Iraq war, expand healthcare, and raise taxes on the wealthy — drawing applause from the left-leaning audience of more than 1,500 bloggers.

Clinton, however, risked a hostile reaction several times in two sessions Saturday and created the most notable moment of contention by insisting she was immune to pressure from special interests and their money.

Responding to a challenge from former Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina to stop taking lobbyists' contributions, she said: "I don't think ... anybody seriously believes I'm going to be influenced by a lobbyist." There were scattered boos in the audience.

She insisted she would take contributions from lobbyists ``because a lot of these lobbyists, whether you like it or not, represent real Americans.'' She mentioned nurses and social workers, for example. That drew some applause.

The boos prompted an acknowledgement from the New York senator that the group is notably irreverent and prone to interrupting speakers at the first sign of a canned response or political spin.

``I've been waiting for this. This is a real sense of reality being here,'' Clinton said with a laugh.

Bloggers had booed the mention of some Democrats in earlier sessions and reacted angrily to the initial announcement that Clinton alone among the candidates would not face questions in a smaller session with about 300 bloggers.

She relented and in that separate meeting stood by several laws signed by her husband that are unpopular with liberals, including welfare reform and the Defense of Marriage Act, which protects states from having to recognize a gay marriage from another state.

She said she agreed with the central tenet of the Defense of Marriage Act but felt it should be amended to clear the way for an extension of federal benefits to gay couples.

In the candidates' forum, Edwards pitched himself as an outsider who would close the Guantanamo prison, pass health care, fight big business and not compromise like rival candidates now serving in Congress.

``If you want change,'' said Edwards, once a successful trial lawyer, ``you need somebody who fought these people their entire life and beat them over and over.''

Sen. Chris Dodd of Connecticut won applause by criticizing media mogul Rupert Murdoch's purchase of the Wall Street Journal, Murdoch's Fox News Channel and Fox host Bill O'Reilly.

New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson backed down when pressed about an earlier statement that his model for Supreme Court nominees was Byron White, though White has dissented from the decision legalizing abortion.

``I screwed up on that one,'' Richardson said.

Richardson later was booed when he called for balanced budgets.

McClatchy Newspapers 2007

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