In an article on the upcoming Virginia primary, The Washington Post included a quote from former Edwards campaign strategist Mudcat Saunders, saying that Sen. Hillary Clinton "might encounter difficulty connecting with southwest Virginians, who have been hit hard by plant closings," because "many people there blame the North American Free Trade Agreement, signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1993." But the Post did not note that Saunders has said a Hillary Clinton presidency would violate the Constitution and that he has vowed "to do everything I can to make sure" John Edwards does not endorse Clinton.
In a February 7 Washington Post article on the upcoming February 12 Democratic primary in Virginia, staff writers Bill Turque and Anne E. Kornblut wrote that Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) "might encounter difficulty connecting with southwest Virginians, who have been hit hard by plant closings, said Dave 'Mudcat' Saunders, a former strategist for John Edwards, who dropped out of the race. He said many people there blame the North American Free Trade Agreement, signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1993." While Turque and Kornblut noted that Saunders was a strategist for Edwards, they did not note that he has said a Hillary Clinton presidency would violate the Constitution and that he has vowed -- as reported by The Washington Post on January 31 -- "to do everything I can to make sure" Edwards does not endorse Clinton. According to the January 31 article, Saunders also said that if she is the nominee, "I think it could be devastating for the party."
During the noon ET hour of the January 30 edition of MSNBC Live, MSNBC chief Washington correspondent Norah O'Donnell asked Saunders who "it's more likely [Edwards] would endorse." After replying, "[Y]ou'd have to ask John that," Saunders stated, "being a Southerner, being a rural American who's been completely devastated by the trade policies of the Clintons ... I'm going to do everything in my power to make sure that he does not endorse Hillary Clinton." When O'Donnell asked, "And why is that? That you're going to do everything in your power to make sure that John Edwards does not endorse Hillary Clinton?" Saunders replied: "I believe in the 22nd Amendment to the Constitution and I think that this thing is in violation of it."
While Turque and Kornblut reported that Saunders asserted that "southwest Virginians" "blame the North American Free Trade Agreement, signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1993" for plant closings, they did not note that Sen. Clinton had recently stated that NAFTA should be changed. During the December 13 Democratic debate in Iowa, Clinton was asked by moderator and Des Moines Register editor Carolyn Washburn whether "NAFTA [should] be scrapped or changed." Clinton responded that it "should be changed," noting that Edwards "has rightly pointed out" that people "have lost their jobs."
From Fox News' December 13 broadcast of the Des Moines Register Democratic presidential debate:
WASHBURN: And so a logical question -- Senator Clinton, I'd like you to ask -- to answer this: Should NAFTA be scrapped or changed?
CLINTON: Well, it should be changed. You know, I think it's important for us to look at the entire context here. You know, you have winners and losers from trade right here in Iowa, people who are gaining because we're exporting, and people who, John has rightly pointed out, have lost their jobs.
I want to be a president who focuses on smart, pro-American trade. I will review every trade agreement. I'm going to ask for revisions that I think will actually benefit our country, particularly our workers, our exporters. And I'm going to go to the international community and get the kind of enforceable agreements and standards on labor and environment that we have been seeking as Democrats. Because we need to make it clear to the rest of the world that we are an open society, we believe in trade, but we don't want to be the trade patsies of the world. We want to have an equivocal, balanced relationship, and that's what I will do as president -- and NAFTA will we part of that review, to try to reform and improve it.
From the February 7 Washington Post article:
Clinton, who has lent her campaign $5 million to underwrite the post-Super Tuesday push, will pursue older white professional women in Northern Virginia. Her strategists also see an opportunity in southwest Virginia, where unemployment and the lack of affordable health care are major issues. They see conditions in the region as similar to those in neighboring Tennessee, which Clinton won Tuesday, and in rural Missouri, where she also did well, though she narrowly lost the state to Obama.
She was endorsed this week by Democrats in Wise County in southwest Virginia, though the area's congressman, Rick Boucher, is supporting Obama.
"Whether she wins or loses, it is going to be close," said Reilly, the Warner confidante. "And even if she loses it by a couple of points, she is going to have a healthy share of delegates."
But Clinton might encounter difficulty connecting with southwest Virginians, who have been hit hard by plant closings, said Dave "Mudcat" Saunders, a former strategist for John Edwards, who dropped out of the race. He said many people there blame the North American Free Trade Agreement, signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1993.
Saunders said Obama will also have to work hard to introduce himself to that region, an uphill feat in what amounts to a five-day campaign.
Political strategists said it might be difficult for either Clinton or Obama to predict who will show up at the polls. Virginia hasn't had a contested Democratic primary for governor or U.S. senator in more than a decade. The last seriously competitive Democratic presidential primary was in 1988, when Jesse Jackson won with 45 percent of the vote.
From the noon ET hour of the January 30 edition of MSNBC Live:
O'DONNELL: Clearly, both Clinton and Obama are courting Edwards' endorsement. Mudcat, who do you think it's more likely he would endorse?
SAUNDERS: Well, you know, you'd have to ask John that. I got off the phone with him this morning and, heck, I talked to him longer than usual. I think, today, John's really interested in, you know, making sure that his staff is OK, because, you know, there's a lot of passionate people on this staff. But, you know, I can't speak for John. I can say this -- that, you know, that being a Southerner, being a rural American who's been completely devastated by the trade policies of the Clintons, my -- I'm going to do everything in my power to make sure that he does not endorse Hillary Clinton.
O'DONNELL: And why is that? That you're going to do everything in your power to make sure that John Edwards does not endorse Hillary Clinton?
SAUNDERS: Well, because I believe in the 22nd Amendment to the Constitution and I think that this thing is in violation of it. And like I said --
O'DONNELL: You mean, having --
SAUNDERS: -- that when I'm driving -- traveling now up through North Georgia, passing towns and be going through South Carolina and turn over into the Appalachians and everything looks like, you know, Sherman went through it but didn't burn anything, you know, I think that there is accountability involved there. And you know, for Hillary Clinton to continue to talk about the unintended consequences of NAFTA -- they weren't unintended, they were unconsidered.
You know, we all heard about the giant sucking sound when they first started talking about this. And I just don't think the Clintons have been a friend, you know, of my people out in rural America. They're obviously, you know, we -- not going to come down here and campaign in the general election. And, you know, everybody has talked about, in all these historical bookends, that you have, you know, the first black and the first woman -- which I think is wonderful -- but, you know, we've progressed there as a nation. But, at the same time, I think John was about history as well, too, because what he was going to do was we were going to come down here and compete where Democrats haven't competed.
And, you know, we're mathematically challenged now as a party. There's no question about it. I mean, 34 percent of the electoral votes now come from the South; about 2020, there's going to be 40 percent. And you know, with John Kerry conceding 227 electoral votes before --
O'DONNELL: All right.
SAUNDERS: I'm sorry, go ahead.
O'DONNELL: Yeah, I apologize, Mudcat. Just want to mention that we are just minutes away from this announcement by John Edwards.