TPM News

Bill Clinton: Some Right-Wingers Don't Want Black President -- But Would Be Opposing Obama If He Were White, Too Appearing last night on Larry King Live, former President Bill Clinton weighed in on the question of whether racism has motivated opposition to President Obama, saying that Democrats ultimately have to win the health care debate on the merits. "I believe that some of the right-wing extremists which oppose President Obama are also racially prejudiced and would prefer not to have an African-American president," said Clinton. "But I don't believe that all the people who oppose him on health care - and all the conservatives - are racists. And I believe if he were white, every single person who opposes him now, would be opposing him then."

Obama's Day Ahead: Diplomacy President Obama will deliver remarks at 9:15 a.m. ET, at U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's Climate Change Summit. He will meet at 10:30 a.m. ET with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and at 11 a.m. ET with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. He will then hold a trilateral meeting at 11:30 a.m. ET with Netanyahu and Abbas. At 1:15 p.m. ET, he will attend a lunch with Sub-Saharan African heads of state, and at 3:30 p.m. ET he will meet with President Hu of China AT 5:15 p.m. ET, he will speak at the Clinton Global Initiative, and at 7 p.m. ET he will attend Secretary General Ban's Climate Change Summit Dinner.

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FOX News entertainer/"journalist" Glenn Beck sat for an interview with Katie Couric and offered a surprising ranking of his preferences from last year's presidential race.

"I can't believe I'm saying this," Beck said when asked about Hillary Clinton, "but I think I would have much preferred her as President, and may have voted for her against John McCain."

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The Wall Street Journal is out with a [story](http://online.wsj.com/article/SB125331620939424307.html#mod=WSJ_hpp_LEFTTopStories) suggesting Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) exerted untoward influence over a US Attorney pick for Georgia by blocking an experienced candidate who had prosecuted a longtime friend.

Is there anything to the story?

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If you're keeping score on the question of passing health care reforms as part of a filibuster-proof budget reconciliation bill, then you know that Democratic leaders in the Senate see it as an absolute last resort; and you know that if they go there, then they don't plan to test the limits of Senate rules along the way. The latter means that the reforms themselves would be subject to a number of arcane procedural tricks that could leave the legislation with some serious holes in it, and Democrats would either have to fill those holes separately, in a regular bill, or cross their fingers and hope things work out OK in the end anyhow. Meanwhile, liberal activists are pretty miffed that Democrats aren't at least threatening to use the process as aggressively as they can, and that's both widening the inter-party rift and leaving the party's legislative efforts without much support from the base.

That way lies the potential for a number of problems, both within the fractured Democratic coalition and for the substance of reform itself.

But if and when the governor of Massachusetts appoints a temporary replacement for Ted Kennedy, there will suddenly be a simpler and more elegant way around this impasse. That is, if only Democrats can stay united against a GOP health care filibuster.

Even if this meant passing a purely partisan bill, this would be the Democrats' preference. "We can get more done through a 60 vote bill than through reconciliation," says a Senate Democratic leadership aide.

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Former President Clinton, in an appearance on Larry King Live tonight, said that not all the people who criticize President Obama are racist, and that if Obama were white, the same people would oppose him.

"I believe that some of the right-wing extremists which oppose President Obama are also racially prejudiced and would prefer not to have an African-American president," he said. "But I don't believe that all the people that oppose him on health care, and all the conservatives, are racist. And I believe that if he were white, every single person who opposes him now would be opposing him then."

"Therefore, while I have devoted my life to getting rid of racism, I think this is a fight that my president and our party, this is one we need to win on the merits," he continued.

Last week, former President Carter said, "An overwhelming portion of the intensely demonstrated animosity toward President Barack Obama is based on the fact that he is a black man."

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, however, has said Obama does not believe attacks against him are racially motivated.

In his appearance today on the David Letterman show, airing tonight, President Obama brushed off the talk that opposition to his agenda is motivated by racism. Watch the video below.

"I think it's important to realize that I was actually black before the election," Obama said.

The audience laughed, and Letterman followed up with another question: "How long have you been a black man?"

Federal prosecutors have accused a major Democratic fundraiser with ties to Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton of orchestrating a Ponzi scheme that involved swindling several major banks out of hundreds of millions of dollars, and using some of the proceeds to fund political candidates and PACs.

According to a Justice Department press release, Hassan Nemazee was indicted this afternoon by a grand jury, charged with using fake documents and signatures to bilk Citibank, Bank of America, and HSBC out of over $290 million, in an alleged scheme that dates back to 1998. Nemazee alleged used the Citibank money to repay the B of A loan, and vice versa. And even after being questioned by FBI agents about the Citibank loan last month, Nemazee allegedly went to HSBC to fraudulently draw down a line of credit, which he tried to access funds to pay back Citibank.

You can read the indictment here.

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Speaking at a fundraiser for Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords today, Vice President Biden warned that Republicans will try to "break the back of our effort" in the 2010 elections by trying to win 35 seats from traditionally Republican districts that are now held by Democrats.

"It's not that Republicans are bad guys. This is just the bet they've made. They're going to put their chips on movement in the 35 seats in the House that have been traditionally Republican districts and trying to take them back," Biden said, according to the White House pool report.

"If they take them back, this the end of the road for what Barack and I are trying to do. This is their one shot," he went on. "If they don't break the back of our effort in this upcoming election, you're going to see the things we said we're for happen."

If Democrats can keep those seats, he said, Congress will finally see bipartisanship.

"All the hidden Republicans that don't have the courage to vote the way they want to vote because of pressure from the party," Biden said, "it will break the dam and you will see bipartisanship."

The mud is continuing to fly in the New Jersey gubernatorial race. During this round, it's the Republicans throwing it at Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine, while also firing back at Dem attacks over GOP nominee Chris Christie's very spotty driving record.

The Star-Ledger reported that Corzine may indirectly have a financial interest in casinos, though even here it's not all that solid. The issue is that Corzine has hedge fund holdings in a company that also own casinos -- and it's against the law in New Jersey for state officials to have business relationships with casino operators.

The hedge fund's parent company says that the casino operations and the hedge fund are managed "totally independently," though the Ledger points out that they share the same address and some of the same staff. The Corzine camp says that Corzine has fully reported his assets in the hedge fund, and that he is not in violation of any laws.

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