Bloggers boo Hillary Rodham Clinton
By STEVEN THOMMA
Kansas City, KA
Clinton CHICAGO | Liberal bloggers booed Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton on Saturday when she refused to rule out taking campaign contributions from lobbyists.
It was 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 praise the bloggers, who they said help counter the influence of conservatives at Fox News Channel and on talk radio.
The candidates all vowed to end the Iraq war, expand health care and raise taxes on the wealthy — drawing applause from 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 that she was immune to pressure from special interests and their money.
Responding to a challenge from former senator 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 that 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 Clinton that the group is 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 thought that it should be amended to clear the way for an extension of federal benefits to gay couples.
In the candidate forum, Edwards pitched himself as an outsider who would close the Guantanamo prison, pass health-care measures, fight big business, and not compromise.