Hillary Clinton buys legislators lunch

New York Senator Hillary Clinton met privately with the 30 Democrats who serve in the Iowa Senate this morning, and then over the noon-hour she met with 53 of the 54 Democrats in the Iowa House (#54 is on active duty in Iraq).  Her campaign provided donuts and juice for the senate meeting this morning. The house folks got a big noon-time spread:  ham, turkey, beef or veggie sandwiches; chips and "very yummy" monster cookies, according to one source. No word yet on whether the senators feel slighted.

After her private lunch-hour meeting, Clinton walked to a small bank of television cameras and DSM-area reporters standing along the rail in the statehouse rotunda. She answered a few questions about her sort of secretive appearance last week before a gay rights group, her energy policies, and her husband. 

Charlotte Eby of Lee Newspapers:  "Senator, you’ve talked about everyone doing their part to conserve energy.  Would you support an increase in the gas tax?"

HRC:  "Well, I think we have to look first at what we need to do to change our habits and what we need to do to get the federal govt behind new technology and the more rapid deployment of that technology and I think right now we’re looking on the Environment Committee on which I serve at a cap and trade system to control carbon so those are the main issues that we’re trying to deal with now and I think we should see how far we can get on any one of those."

Henry Jackson of AP:  "Senator, wny didn’t your campaign publicize your speech with the Human Rights Campaign last week?"

HRC:  "You’ll have to ask my campaign."

Jackson: "You have no comment on it?"

HRC:  "I, I don’t, you’ll have to ask my campaign."

Dave Price of WHO TV:  "The tax incentives you were talking about over at Pioneer.  What were you thinking there?  What would that include?"

HRC:  "Well, we need to have a continuation of the production tax credit for renewable and alternative fuels.  We need to consider the idea that one of the gentleman suggested about how we provide tax incentives to buy more fuel efficient vehicles.  We need to make sure that we continue the R&D tax credit that gives incentives to companies like Pioneer and otehrs to do this kind of research so there’s a group of tax credits that can help us arrange a broad base on incentives and support that will give the private sector and individuals a reason to change behavior, because that’s what it really boils down to.  We have to not only, you know, sort of pull us toward the future with a new government approach, we have to push ourselves to change the way we use energy."

Price:  "What incentives?  Is that raising taxes on the guzzlers or is that cutting taxes (on energy-efficient vehicles)."

HRC:  "It can be both.  But what we’re talking about too is if you want to install solar panels on your hosue, you should get some tax incentive to do that. If you’re a company that wants to make your factory or your business mroe energy efficient, you should get some help doing that.  I mean, this has to be a full-court press.  Every one of us has to, you know, change how we do business, change how we live, how we think about energy and one of the ways we know how to do that is to provide incentives and disincentives through the tax code.  We’ve got some now in energy legislation, but not nearly enough and we have to take away some of the tax breaks that go, for example, to oil because that is an energy source that we need to move away from so why would we continue to give big tax subsidies to fossil fuels?  We need to switch those to renewables and alternatives."

After a question about the potential value of a Vilsack endorsement (HRC has the "highest regard" for Vilsack and Clinton was "a very good friend" of Christie’s late brother) and another question about the "slug-out" with Obama, WHO-TV’s Dave Price followed with this:  "How will your husband campaign for you in Iowa and elsewhere?"

HRC:  "Well, I think that he will certainly be helpful to me as we have been helpful to each other for many, many years but I think it’s important for people to meet me and know what I stand for.  You know, I’m obviously out running to be president because I think I’m the best qualified and experienced person to be president starting in January 2009, but I am sure happy to have his help and his counsel and his expert advice and when I’m president, to have him available to help solve, you know, the myriad of problems that we’re going to be inheriting.  I believe that it’s important to use every talent that we can in our country right now and I think that, you know, having him at my side to begin to deal with some of these tough challenges we face will be a big help to me."

I interviewed Clinton earlier this morning and my first question was about the former president’s role in the campaign — in the context of the two-for-one Clinton special served up in Selma on Sunday.  Here’s the Radio Iowa  story on that angle.  More on the interview in a later post.

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About O.Kay Henderson

O. Kay Henderson is the news director of Radio Iowa.