Tuesday , March 13, 2007
WASHINGTON —Presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton told Democrats Tuesday the "vast, right-wing conspiracy" is back, using a phrase she once coined to describe partisan criticism.
Speaking to Democratic municipal officials, the New York senator used the term to hammer Republicans on election irregularities.
Clinton was first lady when she famously charged allegations of an affair between her then-president husband Bill Clinton and White House intern Monica Lewinsky were the result of a conservative conspiracy.
As evidence of the affair eventually came to light, the comment was ridiculed. But many Democrats have since insisted that Clinton was correct, pointing to the well-documented efforts by conservative financier Richard Mellon Scaife to fund a network of anti-Clinton investigations.
On Tuesday, she asserted the conspiracy is alive and well, and cited as proof the Election Day 2002 case of phone jamming in New Hampshire, a case in which two Republican operatives pleaded guilty to criminal charges, and a third was convicted.
"To the New Hampshire Democratic party's credit, they sued and the trail led all the way to the Republican National Committee," Clinton said.
"So if anybody tells you there is no vast right-wing conspiracy, tell them that New Hampshire has proven it in court," she said.
Former RNC operative James Tobin was convicted of telephone harassment and appealed his conviction. The investigation arose after Democratic organizers' phones were overwhelmed by annoying hang-up calls hindering their get-out-the-vote efforts.
Clinton accused the GOP of a number of other anti-voter actions, including intimidating phone calls during the contentious 2006 congressional elections.
New Hampshire Democratic Party chairwoman Kathy Sullivan said she absolutely agreed with the senator's description of the case.
"People think we're paranoid when we talk about the vast right-wing conspiracy, but there is a real connection of these groups — the same names keep popping up," said Sullivan. "They are the most disgusting group of political thugs that I have ever seen."
RNC spokeswoman Tracey Schmitt responded that Democrats "might be disappointed to learn that almost a decade later, the senator's playbook consists of little more than a resurrection of Clinton-era talking points."
Clinton made her charge of conspiracy in response to a question about her proposed bill that would make Election Day a federal holiday, and make it a crime to send misleading or fraudulent information to voters.
She also said the government should do more to end unusually long lines at certain polling places.
"It just so happens that many of those places where people are waiting for hours are places where people of color are voting or young people are voting. That is un-American, and we're going to end it," Clinton said.