Cantwell's campaign gets boost from a high-profile colleague
Seattle Times staff reporter
Sen. Hillary Clinton gave a fundraising boost to Sen. Maria Cantwell's re-election Friday, headlining a Seattle luncheon that attracted more than 1,200 people, according to the Cantwell campaign.
The crowd paid $150 to $1,200 a plate to hear the first-term New York senator, considered in political circles as a leading contender for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008 and either the best or worst decision the party could make in its effort to recapture the White House. The lunch, inside Qwest Field, was closed to the media. The Cantwell campaign declined to say how much money was raised.
Elected in 2000 after squeaking past incumbent Sen. Slade Gorton, Cantwell is facing a challenge from former Safeco CEO Mike McGavick, the leading candidate for the Republican nomination.
After the Qwest Field event, Clinton and Cantwell held a news conference at a South Seattle biodiesel-fuel plant before the former first lady went on to Portland to raise money for her own Senate re-election campaign.
A group of Democratic military veterans issued a letter criticizing Clinton for holding a fundraiser they said could siphon away money from local Democratic candidates and for "your strong support for the immoral war in Iraq."
One of the veterans involved in the protest letter was Jim Rassman, who credited 2004 Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry with saving his life during combat in Vietnam, and who campaigned for him.
Some Democrats have criticized Clinton for not distancing herself from her initial support of the war. She has criticized President Bush sharply on a number of issues, but many see her strategy — should she run for president — as one of moving to the center.
During her news conference, Clinton supported an effort by Kerry and other Senate Democrats to filibuster Bush's nomination of Judge Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court.
"He would perhaps be the tipping point on the court that would begin to turn the clock back on a lot of settled law on civil rights and civil liberties, separation of powers, executive power being checked and balanced," Clinton said. "I think it's a very serious decision we're facing."
Clinton and Cantwell visited the small Seattle Biodiesel plant to promote development of alternative fuels as a way of reducing the nation's dependence on foreign oil.
The company sells soybean-derived fuel to power diesel cars and trucks. Cantwell said she is signing on to Clinton's bill that would fund a "Manhattan Project" for development of new energy sources.
Asked about Hamas' surprise victory in the Palestinian parliamentary election, Cantwell said she supports Bush's tough line on the party the United States has on its list of terrorist groups.
Bush said Friday the U.S. would cut aid to the Palestinian government unless Hamas abolished the militant arm of its party and stops calling for the destruction of Israel.
"I think the president's statements were right on that," she said. "He wasn't going to deal with a party or an organization that continued to promote the destruction of another nation that is one of our greatest allies."
Keith Ervin: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Material from The Associated Press and The Washington Post is included in this report.
Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company