Talk at AIPAC: What Will Hillary Do?

Monday, June 2nd, 2008

James Besser in Washington

Every year there’s a predominant buzz at the AIPAC policy conference. Last year it was the controversy over the dramatic appearance of Christians United for Israel president John Hagee; in 2005 and 2006 much of the talk in the hallways was about the federal investigation into two former AIPAC staffers.

This being a presidential year, the buzz is mostly about presidential politics. With a heavy population of single issue pro-Israel voters, this is probably a predominantly John McCain audience, but there are plenty of Barack Obama supporters and probably just as many unhappy Hillary Clinton backers in the crowd.

Which brings us to one interesting bit of buzz on Monday: will Ms. Clinton keep her date to speak to AIPAC on Wednesday? And if so, what will she say?

All day Monday there were news reports that Clinton was getting set to throw in the towel, possibly as early as Tuesday night after the votes are counted in the last two primaries in Montana and South Dakota.

Several delegates suggested – speculated, really – that Clinton could withdraw from the race on Tuesday and come to AIPAC on Wednesday, and give the victor, Sen. Barack Obama, a boost with a constituency that has yet to warm to his candidacy.

What better way to unify a party that’s just been through a five-month primary mud fight than to lend some of her credibility with the pro-Israel group to Obama, they suggested?

A prominent Jewish Democrat splashed cold water on that scenario.

“That’s storybook stuff. I doubt very seriously whether coming to AIPAC to help Obama is one of Sen. Clinton’s top priorities now.”

About the Author
Douglas M. Bloomfield is a syndicated columnist, Washington lobbyist and consultant. He spent nine years as the legislative director and chief lobbyist for AIPAC.