CAMPAIGN CONFIDENTIAL

By E.J. Kessler

Published August 22, 2003, issue of August 22, 2003.
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Lieberman Catch: The presidential campaign of Connecticut Senator Joseph Lieberman is tapping a top staffer of New York Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton to head its operation in New York state. Basil Smikle, Clinton’s deputy state director, will be joining the Lieberman campaign in September, spokesman Jano Cabrera confirmed. The appointment should make for some interesting pillow talk at the Smikle household. Smikle’s wife, Marjorie Harris-Smikle, is the executive director of the National Action Network, the civil rights organization until recently headed by the Rev. Al Sharpton.

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Supporting Schwarzenegger?: Arnold Schwarzenegger’s most prominent Jewish supporter said he soon will be raising oodles of cash for the Terminator’s gubernatorial bid. Big wig Republican attorney Sheldon Sloan, a former Los Angeles Municipal Court judge, told the Forward he expects many Tinseltown Jews to pony up for the Austrian-born movie star. “If [Arnold] were an antisemite, he would not be who he is in the entertainment industry,” Sloan said.

California Democrats say, however, that Schwarzenegger’s public stance in favor of Proposition 187 — a 1994 ballot initiative that sought to deny public services to undocumented immigrants — will play poorly in the Jewish community. “He’s sending a huge anti-immigrant signal by making it his only [public] position,” said U.S. Rep. Brad Sherman, who represents about half of the San Fernando Valley. “It’s an incredible racial signal. He’s catering to those who want to throw kids out of school and patients out of hospitals.”

“I don’t know a Jewish leader — other than [the late Jewish Defense League leader] Irv Rubin — that says ‘Yes on 187’ is the shining principle of what I stand for,” Sherman said. “He hung it around his own neck.”

Meanwhile, Democratic operatives have been having fun circulating a picture that purportedly shows what one called the actor’s “considerable assets.”

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Graham’s Money Gals: The presidential campaign of Florida Senator Bob Graham has signed up two crack fundraising consultants: Stephanie Berger, a former finance director of the Democratic National Committee, and Rachel Hirschberg, who formerly headed the fundraising team of the New Democrat Network, a centrist group concerned with modernizing the Democratic Party. Graham’s campaign could use a boost: It raised a little more than $2 million in the second quarter, far below the $7.6 million brought in by the top earner, former Vermont governor Howard Dean.

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Addressing Arab Americans: Dean and Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich are the first Democratic presidential hopefuls to confirm that they will attend the Arab American Institute’s national leadership conference, “VOTE 2004: An Agenda for Peace and Justice.” The conference is to take place in Dearborn, Mich., the weekend of October 17 through 19. Institute head James Zogby told the Forward that he expects that all the candidates will eventually agree to attend. He said he thought Kucinich and Dean had responded first because Kucinich is familiar with Arab audiences because he represents a large Arab population in his district, and Dean because many of his Jewish staffers are former Clinton administration officials. “Bill Clinton showed you can be good for the Jewish community and good for the Arab community,” Zogby said. “It’s not an either/or proposition.” Zogby said he is sure Connecticut Senator Joseph Lieberman would get a warm reception at the conference, although he said he knew he might not be able to come because of the Jewish holidays. “The first meeting Joe Lieberman had after the Democratic convention of 2000 was a meeting in Michigan, a sit-down with the Arab-American community. It was an incredible exchange.”

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Desert Hallucinations?: Dean Daily Digest, an electronic newsletter sent out by the campaign of the former Vermont governor, contained a hilarious typo in its August 15 number. “From the Arizona Republic: ‘Howard Dean Says His Views Will Appear to Arizonans,’” it said. We ask: with or without the help of peyote?

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Clark’s Digs: The movement to draft retired general Wesley Clark into the Democratic presidential race has opened a New York City office. The digs are at 594 Broadway, just south of Houston Street in Soho. The general, the supreme commander of NATO during the Kosovo war, recently gave up his gig as a military analyst for CNN. An announcement about his candidacy is expected in the next two to three weeks.






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