Those Democrats who crossed Bill and Hillary Clinton in 2008 must answer for their sins. And the Clinton camp has been keeping a tally.
That’s at least according to a new book by The Hill’s Amie Parnes and Politico’s Jonathan Allen. They’ve co-authored a book together on Hillary Clinton called “HRC: State Secrets and the Rebirth of Hillary Clinton.” And a story cross-published on the websites of both The Hill and Politico has an interesting angle and title: “Hillary’s Hit List.”
After Hillary had officially dropped out of the race in 2008, her campaign still had some work to do — work that involved keeping a detailed record of who had supported, and turned on, the Clintons.
“As one of the last orders of business for a losing campaign, they recorded in a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet the names and deeds of members of Congress,” the excerpt notes. “They carefully noted who had endorsed Hillary, who backed Barack Obama, and who stayed on the sidelines—standard operating procedure for any high-end political organization. But the data went into much more nuanced detail.”
“We wanted to have a record of who endorsed us and who didn’t,” a member of Hillary’s campaign team told the authors, “and of those who endorsed us, who went the extra mile and who was just kind of there. And of those who didn’t endorse us, those who understandably didn’t endorse us because they are [Congressional Black Caucus] members or Illinois members. And then, of course, those who endorsed him but really should have been with her … that burned her.”
The book sums it up [emphasis added]: “It meant that when asks rolled in, she and Bill would have at their fingertips all the information needed to make a quick decision—including extenuating, mitigating, and amplifying factors—so that friends could be rewarded and enemies punished.”
The “hit list” includes poplar names:
- John Kerry
- Jay Rockefeller
- Bob Casey
- Patrick Leahy
- Chris Van Hollen
- Baron Hill
- Rob Andrews
- Ted Kennedy
But above all, Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO).
“Hate is too weak a word to describe the feelings that Hillary’s core loyalists still have for McCaskill,” the book says. The animosity follows comments the senator made about Bill, and her decision to be a visible champion for Obama:
When the Clintons sat in judgment, Claire McCaskill got the seat closest to the fire. Bill and Hillary had gone all out for her when she ran for Senate in Missouri in 2006. But McCaskill seemed to forget that favor when NBC’s Tim Russert asked her whether Bill had been a great president, during a “Meet the Press” debate against then-Sen. Jim Talent in October 2006.
“He’s been a great leader,” McCaskill said of Bill, “but I don’t want my daughter near him.”
Instantly, McCaskill regretted her remark; the anguish brought her “to the point of epic tears,” according to a friend. She knew the comment had sounded much more deliberate than a forgivable slip of the tongue. So did Hillary, who immediately canceled a planned fundraiser for McCaskill.
A few days later McCaskill called Bill Clinton to offer a tearful apology. Bill was gracious, which just made McCaskill feel worse. After winning the seat, she was terrified of running into Hillary Clinton in the Capitol. “I really don’t want to be in an elevator alone with her,” McCaskill confided to the friend.
But Hillary, who was just then embarking on her presidential campaign, still wanted something from McCaskill—the Missourian’s endorsement. Women’s groups, including EMILY’s List, pressured McCaskill to jump aboard the Clinton bandwagon, and Hillary courted her new colleague personally, setting up a one-on-one lunch in the Senate Dining Room in early 2007. Rather than ask for her support directly, Hillary took a softer approach, seeking common ground on the struggles of campaigning, including the physical toll. “There’s a much more human side to Hillary,” McCaskill thought.
Obama, meanwhile, was pursuing her too, in a string of conversations on the Senate floor. Clearly, Hillary thought she had a shot at McCaskill. But for McCaskill, the choice was always whether to endorse Obama or stay on the sidelines. In January 2008 she not only became the first female senator to endorse Obama but she also made the case to his team that her support would be amplified if Govs. Kathleen Sebelius and Janet Napolitano came out for him at roughly the same time.
McCaskill offered up a small courtesy, calling Hillary’s personal aide, Huma Abedin, ahead of the endorsement to make sure it didn’t blindside Hillary.
But the trifecta of women leaders giving Obama their public nod was a devastating blow. Hate is too weak a word to describe the feelings that Hillary’s core loyalists still have for McCaskill, who seemed to deliver a fresh endorsement of Obama—and a caustic jab at Hillary—every day during the primary.
So far, the Clinton camp has sought to downplay the list.
“I’m sure Doug does have some sort of [fuc****] memo on his Blackberry like the rest of us,” an adviser told the authors, “but the notion that it is updated, circulated, disseminated, and relied upon is absurd.”
“Doug” is Doug Band, who served as a top aide to Bill.
Read the entire excerpt over at The Hill.