Political notebook

Bill Clinton vows to help, nothing more

The victory by Republican Saxby Chambliss in a runoff election Tuesday prevented Democrats from winning a potentially filibuster-proof majority in the next Senate. The victory by Republican Saxby Chambliss in a runoff election Tuesday prevented Democrats from winning a potentially filibuster-proof majority in the next Senate. (John Bazemore/ Associated Press)
December 4, 2008
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Former President Bill Clinton said that if his wife, Hillary Clinton, becomes secretary of state, the former first couple will discuss everything, just as they always have, but that he will stay out of any policy deliberations.

"I'll just try to be a helpful sounding board to her, but I don't think I'll do any more than that," Clinton told CNN in an interview in Hong Kong broadcast yesterday.

"I really care about all these profound challenges that our country and the world are facing," he said. "But the decisions will have to be ultimately President-elect Obama's decisions to make about what we are going to do, what our policies are going to be."

Barack Obama picked her only after full vetting of the former president's global activities and his agreement to disclose 200,000 donors. Clinton said he agreed to do so to eliminate concerns that supporters were trying to influence US policy.

"If she is going to be secretary of state and I operate globally and I have people who contribute to these efforts globally, I think that it's important to make it totally transparent," he said.

The potential for conflict was underscored Tuesday - the day after Hillary Clinton appeared with Obama at the formal announcement of his national security team - when Bill Clinton was convening a Clinton Global Initiative meeting in Hong Kong. His foundation announced yesterday that members had committed $185 million for projects that would touch the lives of 10 million people.


Victorious Chambliss calls for return to Reagan basics
Senator Saxby Chambliss of Georgia, whose reelection Tuesday stopped Democrats from winning a potentially filibuster-proof majority in the next Senate, said yesterday that the lesson for Republicans from his triumph is to return to Ronald Reagan's basics.

"And that is, Republicans stand for smaller government, fiscal responsibility, more individual rights and freedoms, and lower taxes. And we've got to get back to those fundamentals," Chambliss said on Fox News Channel. "That's what we talked about on the campaign trail, and obviously it resonated with our constituents here."

Chambliss, who easily defeated Democratic challenger Jim Martin in the runoff, also disputed suggestions that if President-elect Barack Obama had personally campaigned for Martin, it would have made a difference. Obama cut a radio ad and sent staffers and canvassers, but left the in-person stumping to other party leaders, including Bill Clinton.

"I have no idea why he didn't come down, but his people were here, his organization was here," said Chambliss, who received high-profile help from national Republicans, including vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin. "But I do know this: If he had come down, it would have fired up our base even more."


Biden, Napolitano briefed on WMD terror potential
Vice President-elect Joe Biden and incoming Homeland Security chief Janet Napolitano were briefed yesterday by a high-powered bipartisan panel that warns that terrorists are likely to use nuclear or biological weapons in the next five years - unless the federal government takes concerted action.

"We're not doing all we can to prevent the world's most lethal weapons from winding up in the hands of terrorists," Biden said. "This report is more than a warning about what we are doing wrong. It's a pragmatic blueprint for how to get it right."

Former senator Bob Graham of Florida, a cochairman of the commission that drafted the report, said the danger is growing as Al Qaeda strengthens and expands its reach.

"Our challenge is great," Graham said at a Washington news conference. "The good news is our challenge is not inevitable."

The commission is recommending beefed-up efforts to control nuclear and biological materials around the world and diplomacy, backed by the threat of military action, to stop Iran and North Korea from obtaining nuclear weapons.

Advisers to President-elect Barack Obama told the Globe that he already plans to follow through on another recommendation - naming a top White House official to coordinate the efforts to prevent terrorists from getting and using such weapons.


Perry County, Ala., gets Barack Obama Day' holiday
MARION, Ala. - In central Alabama's Perry County, government workers already get a day off for Presidents' Day, Martin Luther King Day, and Veterans Day. Next year, they'll be getting one more: "Barack Obama Day."

The rural county, which overwhelmingly supported Obama in last month's presidential election, has approved the second Monday in November as "Barack Obama Day."

Commissioners passed a measure that would close county offices for the new annual holiday and its roughly 40 workers will get a paid day off.


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