This explains SO much: Fowler says he told Hillary not to seek endorsement

When I got this morning’s e-mail from Don Fowler about our Obama endorsement, I immediately answered it as follows:

I guess you and I are just going to have to agree to disagree yet again, Don.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts, though. It’s helpful to me in understanding the way things stand.

If you don’t mind my asking, were you involved at all in discussions within the Clinton campaign about our repeated invitations to an editorial board meeting? And if you were, was this the advice you gave?

That may have seemed a question out of the blue, but it arose from an intuition I had last week when I was trying to imagine why Sen. Clinton didn’t schedule an interview, despite all our invitations. It didn’t make sense to me, and the answer I was getting — pleading the busy schedule — was weirdly inadequate. Barack Obama had a busy schedule. So did Dick Gephardt, Carol Moseley-Brown, Joe Lieberman, John Edwards, Howard Dean and John Kerry in 2004, but they all managed to find the time.

I felt like something else was going on, and Don’s message this morning seemed to support the hunch that he had something to do with it. So as long as I was writing to him, I asked him.

He called me on the phone a little later and left a message, saying in part:

    As concerns the matter of the, being involved in conversations about whether Hillary should… come and spend two hours with your folks, I categorically recommended that she not spend her time there, it would be totally wasted time. No chance in the world that you and your crowd would ever endorse a Clinton for anything. I learned that a long time ago. Be glad to talk with you.

Now, I have no idea that Hillary Clinton or her schedulers would make their decision based on this — I certainly wouldn’t. But at least it gives me an explanation from somebody.

I called him back, missed him, and he called me back, and we had one of the most frustrating conversations I’ve had since — well, since this morning, when I chatted with a reader who said he didn’t believe newspapers had a right to endorse candidates at all, so we shouldn’t do it.

But I’d never had such a frustrating conversation with someone as well educated and experienced as Don, his party’s former national chairman. He kept clinging to this notion that we would never endorse anyone with the name Clinton — which made no sense to me — what’s in a name; are we Montagues and Capulets here? I mean, if he knows that, he knows something I don’t know. He said he based his absolute conclusion on a visit he made to the editorial board on Bill Clinton’s behalf in 1996. Not remembering the specifics of that meeting, I didn’t get into it, but I pointed out that of the five current members of the board, I’m the only one who was on the board then. No matter. He suggested that the fix was in, that we would endorse the Republican no matter what, and that it must hold just as true today as then.

Well, you know, this paper has endorsed Republicans — for president — every election for as far back as I am aware, something which I attribute to the fact that the national Democratic Party (which he once chaired) keeps giving us nominees the board won’t go for. But we didn’t even get into that. I pointed out the fact that of all the endorsements we’ve done in all general elections — federal, state, local — since I joined the board in 1994 (and that includes those presidential ones), we have endorsed more Democrats than Republicans. I offered to take him into our smelly, musty archives and show him all those endorsements. He didn’t take me up on it.

He repeated his charge that we endorsed Sanford twice. I told him he was wrong, and asked him if he knew whom we endorsed in 2006 for governor. He said he didn’t know. I told him it was Democrat Tommy Moore.

He kept saying he didn’t have to read what we wrote; he knew all he needed to know about us. So it was no use telling him that while I had liked Barack Obama from early on and hoped we would see fit to endorse him, I believed that Sen. Clinton had a case to make that could persuade us otherwise, and I wanted her to have the chance to make it. As I wrote in the paper, Mike Fitts expressed his sincere disappointment that she didn’t do so. I think, after having had the interview with Obama, he would still have persuaded us. But I can’t know for sure.

But Don Fowler, he knows.

It was a remarkable conversation. I share it with you because it bears — or at least seems to bear — on a subject I’ve tried to keep y’all in the loop on.

17 thoughts on “This explains SO much: Fowler says he told Hillary not to seek endorsement

  1. Randy Ewart

    This is another Clinton puppet massaging public perception.
    Brad, here’s a thread for which I am lobbying; how the Clinton’s divide the democrat party for their personal gain.
    Look at the Clinton era. The republicans swept into office in 1994 forcing the president to “triangulate” aka shift hard right turning his back on the party to prove the “president is still relevant”. By 1998 the party was even weaker.
    I see a parallel today. Kennedy, Clyburn, and multiple former Clinton aides are speaking out against the president for his divisive actions. He is blunting the great surge of democrat enthusiasm in the election. I for one am considering voting for a republican over Clinton.
    No wonder democrats like myself are destined to be marginalized in SC when party officials like Fowler are more interested in his pals than party ideals.

  2. weldon VII

    Brad, please take a look at the big picture.
    You endorsed Lieberman. Who won?
    You endorsed Tommy Moore, after your paper ran six trillion columns dissing pay-day lenders, and when Moore didn’t win the governnorship, he jumped in bed with the pay-day lenders. So much for The State’s judgment.
    Didn’t you endorse Ravenel for treasurer, too? He won, but did we?
    Dick Gephardt, Carol Moseley-Brown, Joe Lieberman, John Edwards, Howard Dean and John Kerry all found the time to visit you in 2004, but what did it get them? They all lost.
    The State’s endorsement isn’t worth half an hour of Hillary Clinton’s time, particularly not when she can use Barack Obama’s success with the black voters here to make him look like a black candidate instead of a candidate who happens to be black.
    Think of it another way, too. With each passing day, The State becomes more of an endorsement for athletics at the University of South Carolina. If Steve Spurrier breathes, Ron Morris writes a column explaining how he inhaled and exhaled just the right way.
    Do you feel Spurrier dancing the Holtz with a Dietzel engine?
    Or is it just the same ol’ same ol’?
    Face it. For every vote The State influences toward the candidate it endorses, another voter uses your pick to figure out how NOT to vote.
    History shows The State’s just spittin’ in the wind.

  3. John P Smith

    If the character of our next U.S. President matters to you then read on.
    1969 – While Barack Obama was being raised by a single mother and experiencing a life of racial and cultural diversity , Hillary Clinton was learning the art of triangulation and writing an admiring college thesis on Saul Alinsky whose fifth rule of political agitation was, “Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon.”
    1979 – While Barack Obama was actively involved in the South African divestment movement to end apartheid, Hillary was reaping profits of almost 10,000% in the futures markets and leaving taxpayers with her real-estate losses in the Savings & Loan bailout.
    1989 – While Barack Obama served as the Harvard Law Review’s first black president in its 104 year history, Hillary Clinton then wife of the Arkansas governor was receiving payments from a law firm that was doing the state’s business and payments from Wal-Mart where as a board member she remained silent about Wal-Mart’s anti-labor union practices.
    1999 – While Barack Obama was securing bipartisan support for health-care reform and passage of low-income tax credits and child care subsidies in the Illinois legislature, Hillary Clinton was supporting her husband’s Iraq “regime change” policy and urging him to bomb Yugoslavia in an effort to divert public attention from the president’s marital, legal and ethical misconduct.
    2007 – While Barack was promoting a restoration of balance between work and wealth and criticizing special interests for distorting U.S. tax codes, Hillary and her husband were liquidating their blind trust of the nearly $50 million amassed during their years in public office.
    The character of the next U.S. President does matter. The U.S. needs a uniter not a divider for President as the global economy teeters on the precipice of economic meltdown not unlike the Great Depression.
    Afterall the Roaring Twenties decade that preceded the Great Depression, like the Irrational Nineties that preceded our current decade, was also a golden age for technology, scandal-plagued politicians, corporate greed, and unrestrained personal debt and speculation

  4. Gisele

    I’m tired of division—-the mindset of America needs to change.
    Obama’s candidacy energizes me like nothing that’s happened in politics ever before and believe me I’ve been around. Obama transcends race, gender, and class.
    I worked in a Republican Congressman’s office in 1980 when Reagan swept into power. Since the 1990’s I haven’t really voted much as I live overseas. I did vote for Kerry and was devastated when he got ‘swift boated.’
    I am a white, middle aged woman who does not see Hillary Clinton as representative of my politics or my beliefs. I support Obama’s message of hope and have registered so that I can vote in the Global Democratic primary. Overseas, a great number of people see Obama as restoring the image of America abroad and he does represent, just in his very being, a more inclusive-civilized-humane America. Also, I’ve never contributed to a political campaign financially until now and I’ve been compelled to contribute to this campaign.
    Finally, Obama’s speech after his Iowa victory brought tears coursing down my face. He represents my longings, hopes and dreams for American like no other politician does. He is the fulfilment of MLK’s dream. I do see him as bridging and healing so many divides that have torn America apart since the 1960’s. I am not looking for a Messiah, as many in the media have accused Obama supporters of doing, and I do not see Obama as the great savior of all humankind. Rather he is someone who appeals to the best in all of us. The other candidates are politics as usual and appeal to the worst in all of us and appeal to fear. I’m so tired of that message.
    Anyway, thanks for all the hard work you are doing in South Carolina—- organizing of the campaign on the ground and getting the vote out!

  5. bud

    Let’s face it Brad, the fact that the State Newspaper endorsed George W. Bush in 2004 suggests they are completely incapable of making any kind of useful decision. Go back and read that endorsement. It gave ALL the reasons why John Kerry should have received the endorsement and then Bush got the nod anyway. Go figure. And the results? We continue in Iraq with an additional 3,000 soldiers dead and no end in sight. The country is divided along partisan lines as never before. Our economy is in shambles. 47 million Americans are without health care. The State’s endorsement actually predicted all of that and STILL they endorsed Bush! So tomorrow I will proudly walk into the voting booth and vote for the person who refused to waste her time talking to the State’s editorial board. After all, John Edwards came in and proudly showed off his boots and all he got from that was a few more columns ridiculing everything he said. So why should anyone waste their time, and perhaps hurt their chances, by visiting the State editorial board. It seems prudent to me.

  6. Lee Muller

    Hillary’s campaign is loaded up with scandal.
    Don Fowler was involved in her illegal campaign contributions for Bill ($2,500,000 fine). She and Bill should have gone to jail for falsifying FEC reports to overstate their contributions in 1992 in order to illegally obtain $6,000,000 in matching campaign funds for a campaign which was actually bankrupt.
    Sandy Berger, who copped a plea bargain for stealing classified documents which showed Bill Clinton’s failure to get Bin Laden, is an advisor to Hillary. She says Berger is the one who advised her to vote for war in Iraq.
    She also has some socialist radicals, like the head of La Raza, on her top staff.

  7. Jim

    Brad, The State newspaper should not even be printed. It is a waste of time and money. I urge anyone out there with some money, PLEASE start another paper for this city. When I want to know what the far right is lying about I’ll just go to the Republican websites. I don’t need to read your paper cause it just passes on the talking points they want to get out. Please do us all a favor and just close it down.

  8. Calhoun

    More than what Don Fowler said, I’m troubled by something Bill Clinton said recently — that this race will come down to race v. gender.
    It’s brilliant – ruthless, maybe evil, but brilliant – to say this in South Carolina and have that be the story coming out. Because Mr. Clinton will say “look, that’s not a smart thing to say in South Carolina, where blacks make up such a huge part of the population, so I wouldn’t have said it for political reasons”.
    But Clinton isn’t trying to win South Carolina for his wife. He’s trying to win the nation — and in the vast majority of states, women will outnumber minorities in the primary. Identity politics works to Hillary’s advantage, not Barack Obama’s. It is truly a diabolical strategy, if that’s what they’re doing.
    It is sad really, the way in which minorities have been a tool for Mr. Clinton to use to his own ends. When he has to beat one down to look tough, you get the Sista Soulja moment, or you have the mentally retarded man executed in Arkansas, so Bill can look tough on crime. But when he needs redemption, you get Bill saying “I have sinned” in front of a group of black ministers. He didn’t dare give that speech in front of a white or mixed-race congregation. And now, he appears interested in making the primary seem a “blacks versus everybody else” affair, because the numbers work out to Hillary’s advantage (and his own path to historical vindication) that way. He’s always got the political wheels turning in his brain, wondering how he can use any situation and any people for his own welfare. Black folks ought to realize that Bill Clinton thinks of himself way before he considers their welfare, or anyone else’s. “Whatever it takes” is the Clintons’ mantra.

  9. Pres

    Fowler is probably the first and last person that will accuse The State of being some sort of cheerleader for Republicans.

  10. G Davis

    As rather an aside, might I ask what exactly the Clintons have actually done for minorities or women?
    I don’t remember any landmark legislation that would help…I only remember efforts to appease a Republican Congress that could possibly hurt.
    Am I wrong?
    If not, why would the Democratic Party be interested in promoting the Clintons?
    Help me out?

  11. Ralph Hightower

    I think your conversation with Don Fowler demonstrates that he is as close-minded as Rush Limbaugh is.
    I saw a bumper sticker on a car that said “People with closed minds should have closed mouths”.

  12. Herb Brasher

    Hang tough, Brad. To paraphrase a saying that I cannot exactly recall at the moment, “evil will triumph if good people do nothing,”–only unfortunately that little adage doesn’t mention the cost of the struggle that good people will bear in the process.

  13. Randy Ewart

    I only remember efforts to appease a Republican Congress re B.Clinton – G Davis,
    That is my point. Clinton triangulated to help himself. Obama’s ad is on the money. Clinton (take your pick) will say anything to get elected.

  14. Tom J

    The Clinton campaign knew they were going to lose South Carolina anyway, and it would look worse if they tried (and failed) to get the newspaper’s endorsement. This way they can pretend they were focusing on other states (where they’re hoping to win).

  15. pam,greenwood

    don’t worry about it. the clinton’s campaign strategy to come into this state and create a division among black and white voters is despicable. this primary was not about race until they (bill and hillary) interjected it with people like bob johnson. unforgiving all of it. so do not worry about mr. fowler because if he endorses or condones that type of campaign strategy he will fail along with the clintons in nov.

  16. bill thompson

    to the CONSERVATIVE people who are in a sulk over mcCAIN:

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