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Chief political reporter David Postman explores state, regional and national politics.

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September 4, 2007 3:40 PM

Sims' path to the Clinton camp

Posted by David Postman

King County Executive Ron Sims endorsed Hillary Clinton for president today only after talks with her, John Edwards and Barack Obama, who Sims is convinced will be America's first African-American president. "I wanted to feel comfortable with people on domestic policy issues," he said. But he says there aren't many differences between the three leading Democratic candidates on domestic issues. Sims called that "an embarrassment of riches."

Clinton won him over on foreign policy, the very issue that makes it hard for many liberal Democrats to support the New York senator. Sims says Clinton has a "foreign policy toughness, a foreign policy experience that gives her an advantage."

"I opposed the Iraq war before it was declared and I want us to get out. We need an orderly process to get out. Of all the presidential candidates, Democrats and Republicans, I thought she would get us out of Iraq in the most orderly fashion, but at the same time in a fashion that would keep the region as stable as we can make it. ... She's going to get us out of that place."

Sims supported Edwards in the 2004 presidential campaign. And he remains a fan. He said he also hit it off very well with Obama.

"I walked away going, 'He's going to be president one day.' He had all the energy and charisma and he's a policy wonk, which I like. We had a wonderful time talking about health care and global warming and how you end poverty."

Sims also felt the tug of having the chance to elect the first African-American president. But in the end he didn't think Obama had "seasoning" yet for the job.

"I don't mean seasoning in a denigrating way. He and I talked about having everybody say, 'You're not ready, you're not ready.' I believe that when you're competing against another candidate who is bringing that skill set to the presidency, then I think it is legitimate to say, 'When you acquire that same skill set you will be the president.' I think Senator Clinton has it now."

The Clinton campaign also put on the hard sell. Sims was asked to invite former President Bill Clinton when he made a June appearance in Seattle at a fundraiser for his wife. He did that, but still refrained from making an endorsement. He had a long talk with Bill Clinton that day. And the former president asked him "to give my wife some consideration."

Sims also got a call from former Transportation Secretary Rodney Slater. Sims had always been close to the Clinton administration but he said Slater was the one cabinet member he was closest to. Slater invited Sims to come see him in D.C. at his office with the powerful lobbying firm of Patton Boggs. Said Sims:

"He put his arm around me and said, 'Well, what would it take.' I said, 'Probably a phone call.'"

It turned out that Hillary Clinton had been trying to call him for some time. The phone call happened recently. He and Clinton talked about global warming, a big topic for Sims, and health care. He was impressed that Clinton knew about the Puget Sound Health Care Alliance, the group he put together of representatives of government, industry and labor. Clinton knew details of his work on global warming and was able to cite awards Sims has gotten for those efforts.

She invited him to serve on her Environment and Energy Task Force, and then surprised him by asking him to also serve as state co-chairman with Rep. Jay Inslee.

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Posted by Neil

4:42 PM, Sep 04, 2007

It doesn't surprise me that Sims wouldn't support an African American for president. Visit the King County Jail sometime. You'll see the depth of his unity with & compassion for his fellow African Americans. A veritable livestock system; filthy conditions, stale rotten food, bedding that makes the Russian Gulags seem like the Taj Mahal, and a probable 90% African American population, all on old Ronnie's watch. Though he's not to blame for the conditions that bring them there, must he not answer for their inhumane treatment, or at least take a glance from time to time to be sure his domain represents his lofty rhetoric? Too busy rubbing shoulders with lobbyists and DC insiders one must assume. To be sure, he's happy to slap MLK Jr.'s "Logo" on the whole rotten system though. If Ron endorses Clinton, I don't. Ron, from a loyal Democrat, you're a useless gas bag.

Posted by Michael Caine

5:39 PM, Sep 04, 2007

The entire experience meme is interesting. Senator Edwards only served one term as a Senator. Yet no one is questioning his experience. Senator Clinton has only served one full term in the Senate and yet no one questions her experience. Senator Obama served many years as a state legislator in Illinois, a border state that has heavy trade ties to other countries.

Neither Hillary Clinton nor John Edwards have spent any time as an elected or an appointed official within government. Clinton wants to point to the time she spent as a First Lady as credentials. By that logic, Laura Bush should be running for President. Or maybe, the Republicans should be drafting Nancy Reagan. Rumor has it, she ran the White House for the last years of Reagan's tenure.

To his credit, Edwards doesn't appear to be part of Rovian "experience" campaign. Ask any African-American about how many jobs they were shut out of because they lacked "experience." Jobs that went to people that had exactly the same (if not less) "experience." Similar to how Clinton has less legislative experience to Obama...

Posted by KS

6:37 PM, Sep 04, 2007

I would agree with MC. Along with you, I hope that someone other than Clinton gets the Democrat nomination - not because they would be easier for the Republicans to defeat. Contrary, both Edwards and Obama are somewhat stronger against the Republicans than Clinton. If only Al Gore can take her out, then I would like to see him run - (I believe Gore would show as strong or stronger than the others). A Gore-Obama ticket would be very tough to beat and could see voting for them, but in no way would I vote for Hillary...

Posted by Greg Rodriguez

7:40 PM, Sep 04, 2007

I have to agree with Ron's reasoning and have come to support Hillary much the same way. I took a long look at both Edwards and Obama. I personally don't think Edwards can win in a general election and while I like Obama alot, I just think he needs more national experience to be President-and no MC this has nothing to do with race.

It is not just Hillary's service as a Senator (which no one can deny has been exceptional) it is her experience as First Lady. She took a much more active role as first lady then Laura or Nancy. It is well-known that she was apprised of many of the dealings that went on in the White house and not just picking china or decorating for the holidays. Her 8 years there give her an invaluable insight to use to determine what went right during the Clinton years and replicate that as well as what some of the pitfalls were and to make sure they do not happen again. Furthermore Hillary's work on children and family issues date back 35 years. In addition, no one said Laura couldn't run and in fact would probably get more support among Republicans then the current crop of candidates are getting.

As for electability, it will be almost impossible to convince the very left or the extreme Hillary haters that she can win, but she can. The pundits all said she wasn't electable when she first ran for the Senate. Not only did she prove them wrong, but in her second victory she won red counties that Bush won and that no Democrat had won for a long time if ever. All polls at this point have Hillary being the only Democrat to beat any Republican in a national election and her support is increasing and negatives decreasing amongst Independents and fair-minded Republicans.

Posted by KS

8:05 PM, Sep 04, 2007

"All polls at this point have Hillary being the only Democrat to beat any Republican in a national election and her support is increasing and negatives decreasing amongst Independents and fair-minded Republicans."

Not true. See

Posted by evergreen_representative

9:06 PM, Sep 04, 2007

Ron Sims confirmed my foresight and common sense in never casting a vote for him in any of his election campaigns. Sims actually had the gall to say that he's supporting Hillary Clinton because he likes her foreign policy. Clinton is the same politician that voted for the Iraq War Resolution and who just recently implied that nuclear weapons are on the table regarding wars in Southwest Asia and even made a point of chastising Barack Obama's less cavalier attitude about nuclear weapons. Mike Gravel said it best when he stated that anybody who voted for the Iraq War Resolution isn't qualified to be president (that includes John Edwards, too, despite his mea culpa). As for Sims' endorsement of Clinton, I'm sure that will get Clinton a handful of votes. The Party of Commons is supporting Ron Paul for president.


Posted by Hinton

11:14 PM, Sep 04, 2007

With Sims and Inslee running her show, this stands as Washington's BEST chance to become a red state since 1984.
It's just astounding that she couldn't have done much, much better than these 2.

Posted by Michael Caine

9:42 AM, Sep 05, 2007

Greg, I am hardly the very left and I am definitely not an extreme Hillary hater. It is not my goal to denigrate Hillary's experience. It is, however, Hillary's Campaign's goal to denigrate Obama's experience.

Name one piece of major legislation she introduced to congress that was passed. Sure, she has jumped on the bandwagon for legislation after it was assured of passage. Name one issue where she was a leader before it was popular.

Healthcare reform was popular before she took its mantle. Under her leadership it got laden down with pork and other buyouts that even its proponents decided it was better to scrap it and start over again. The Clintons, on the other hand, never looked at it again. Until now, that is. When others resurrected it. Now she wants to jump back on the bandwagon.

But, just like her husband, she has never laid it on the line. When the going gets tough, she caves. That is not the experience that people want.

Unlike with Kerry, I have never said Hillary can't win. I have said that she most probable to lose of the candidates that are likely to be the Democratic Nominee. Unlike Obama who electrifies people with positive feelings. Hillary electrifies people with negative feelings.

Few people are going to be voting for Hillary in the General Election. Most people either going to vote against the Republican Party or they are going to be against Hillary if she is the Democratic Nominee.

Obama takes alot of that off the board. There will still be the party faithfuls that are voting against the Republican and Democratic tickets. However, the Leaners and the Independents will be voting for someone rather than against when Obama leads the ticket.

After all the divisiveness of the last 20 odd years in politics, we have a chance to heal wounds rather than pour salt into them. As a whole, the electorate craves that healing. With Obama there is a chance. With Hillary there is none. And I haven't even touched on how the feelings for the candidate affect down the ticket races.

Posted by shoephone

4:50 PM, Sep 05, 2007

How discouraging is it when Democrats are actually touting someone's presidential run based on her experience as first lady?

After looking through HuffPo's Fundrace page for Seattle, it seems there's a whole lot more support for Edwards and Obama than for Clinton.

Posted by upchuck

12:21 AM, Sep 11, 2007

Greg, Supporting Hillary seems like a fitting choice for someone who supported Craig in the past.

And no, it's not an extreme left view that WTO, NAFTA, the 96 telecom act, and other pro-corporate conservative "neo-liberal" ideas are bad for the American people. This is a mainstream viewpoint. But a 200-300 million dollar media campaign can really do a great spin job to make her look good in spite of that legacy she now carries. The one thing she had going for her was her health care efforts in Bill's first term but they gave that up real quick and now she's the second highest recipient of insurance company lobby money in the entire Senate.

As for Sims, he talks a good game from time to time, but really he's just a sellout. Just ask Southwest airlines.

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