Describing it as "nearly a case of Too Much Information," Dana Milbank wrote that Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton "divulged some startling news: She was dispatching across Iowa 'people who have known me, who can talk about what I do when the lights are off.' As luck would have it, Bill Clinton was campaigning with his wife in the Hy-Vee, and he was asked what he and the senator do in their, um, downtime." But Milbank left off the rest of Clinton's sentence, which makes clear that she was not insinuating what Milbank suggested.
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In his December 19 "Washington Sketch" column, Washington Post national political reporter Dana Milbank cropped a statement Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) made campaigning in Iowa the previous day, writing:
It was very nearly a case of Too Much Information.
Sen. Hillary Clinton was campaigning in a Hy-Vee grocery here [Des Moines, Iowa] Tuesday, on day two of her effort to display warmth and fuzziness, when she divulged some startling news: She was dispatching across Iowa "people who have known me, who can talk about what I do when the lights are off."
As luck would have it, Bill Clinton was campaigning with his wife in the Hy-Vee, and he was asked what he and the senator do in their, um, downtime.
"Sometimes we're just sleeping," the former president answered, "because we're so tired."
Those crazy kids. But then, the effort to humanize Hillary was bound to encounter some hitches.
In fact, Clinton did not refer merely to "what I do when the lights are off," but rather to: "what I do when the lights are off and the cameras are gone," giving examples, neither of which included what Milbank was insinuating. Following is her full statement, as aired on the December 18 edition of MSNBC's Tucker:
CLINTON: It's not easy for me to talk about myself. I'd rather talk about Magic [Johnson]. But I think that by having people who have known me and who can talk about, you know, what I do when the lights are off and the cameras are gone, what I do when I meet some mom who has a sick child and I do everything in my power to try to help or a family stranded because of Katrina, and the failure of our government to help, maybe that'll give a little bit of insight that will kind of round out who I am as a person.
As Media Matters for America noted, in his December 14 Post piece, "Attacks Add," Milbank asserted that Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) "is no Boy Scout" and that "the achievements Obama has to tout are thin." To support his claim, Milbank noted Obama's speech to the Democratic National Committee on November 30, in which Obama said he "expanded health care in Illinois by bringing Democrats and Republicans together, by taking on the insurance industry." Milbank then wrote: "Actually, his signature legislation as a state senator, the Health Care Justice Act, merely set up a panel to craft a plan." In fact, while Obama did sponsor the Health Care Justice Act in 2004, he also sponsored a 2003 bill that expanded KidCare and FamilyCare, health insurance programs for low-income families in Illinois. According to enrollment statistics provided by the Kaiser Foundation, the two programs expanded enrollment by more than 150,000 following the bill's passage.