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Clinton plans practical first 100 days

Sen. Hillary Clinton is planning a smooth honeymoon.

Her plan for the first 100 days of a second Clinton administration, traditionally a period of comity for new presidents, is made up mostly of practical proposals that are likely to succeed, analysts said.

But if Clinton wins the Democratic nomination and general election in November, she doesn't plan to use the popular support new presidents typically enjoy as leverage for major battles over issues such as universal health care.

"I can't promise you results, but I can promise you my best efforts and I want you to hold me accountable," Clinton said in a meeting this week with Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reporters and editors.

First on her list would be asking the Joint Chiefs of Staff, secretary of Defense and national security advisers to devise "a plan to begin withdrawing our troops (from Iraq) responsibly within 60 days," Clinton said.

Democrats, who could solidify their hold on Congress in the November general election, might worry about their party taking all the blame if a U.S. withdrawal creates a chaotic Iraq, said Matthew Lebo, political science professor at Stony Brook University in New York.

"This is one area they will be very skittish about for the 2010 midterm elections," Lebo said. "Advocating withdrawal from an unpopular war with a Republican president is one thing. Betting your majority on the aftermath of a withdrawal is another."

Beyond that, Clinton's plans include resurrecting legislation vetoed by President Bush, restarting climate change negotiations to replace the Kyoto treaty Bush abandoned, issuing an executive order to overturn restrictions on U.S. aid for birth control and family planning in developing countries, and dispatching envoys to rebuild international relationships she said were damaged during the past seven years.

Missing from the list are an early push for universal health care and rolling back the Bush tax cuts of 2001 and 2003, two prominent campaign promises that will meet stiff Republican opposition.

"It just reminds me of sort of a throwback to" former President Bill Clinton's second term, said Daron Shaw, a political science professor at the University of Texas-Austin. "That was the infamous Dick Morris strategy. Pick out things that transcend normal partisan politics. Get some momentum going. The problem with the Clinton administration was they never spent it on anything."

Those transcendent issues include federal money for stem cell research and an expansion of the Children's Health Insurance Program. Both measures passed Congress last year only to meet Bush's veto pen. Clinton wants to sign both.

After Clinton's disastrous attempt to pass universal health care in 1993, she's right to tread carefully, said Karen O'Connor, director of American University's Women and Politics Institute in Washington.

"She needs to show the nation she can lead, and lead successfully. It's important to take that honeymoon 100 days and do that," said O'Connor, a Clinton supporter. "Why exhaust that honeymoon period on something that is extraordinarily difficult to get through intact?"

The best time for either Clinton or Sen. Barack Obama to enact major changes would be early in their administrations, said William Flanigan, political science professor at the University of Minnesota. When a new party takes the White House, it comes with a new team. Once that team digs into Washington culture, it usually gets less done, Flanigan said.

"So many presidents don't take great initiative," Flanigan said. "If you really want to make big change, you've got to do it before the bureaucracy gets set in its ways in the administration. They're a barrier to change of almost all kinds."

Additional Information:

Complete interview

Audio: Clinton interview

Sen. Hillary Clinton sat for a 90-minute interview today with Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reporters and editors. The audio of the interview is divided into two parts and can be downloaded.

Click here to download the 38-megabyte part 1.

Click here to download the 48-megabyte part 2. Additional Information:

First impressions

Sen. Hillary Clinton, speaking at the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review's North Side office Tuesday, laid out nine goals she hopes to accomplish in her first 100 days in office, should she win the Democratic nomination and the general election in November. She said she would:

• Ask the Joint Chiefs to develop an Iraq withdrawal plan that can begin in 60 days

• Appoint envoys from both parties to travel the world, 'reaching out to governments and people alike to begin to re-establish our relationships, our leadership'

• Reach out to world leaders herself

• Restart and 'fast-track' negotiations on climate change treaties that include India and China

• Get Congress to pass the stem cell bill. Sign it.

• Get Congress to pass the children's health insurance bill. Sign it.

• Issue an executive order reversing President Bush's order that restricted federal aid for birth control and family planning in developing countries

• 'Send out a very clear message that I would expect members of my administration to follow the Constitution'

• 'Restore the credibility of the Executive Branch' Additional Information:

On the trail


Former President Bill Clinton

• 'Solutions for America' rallies at: 10 a.m., Pottstown Senior High School, Pottstown; noon, Albright College, Reading; 3:15 p.m., Dickinson College, Carlisle; 5:45 p.m., Lewistown Area High School, Lewistown; 8 p.m., Pennsylvania State University, site to be determined.

Chelsea Clinton

• Noon, Q&A at Wood River Village assisted-living center, Bensalem

• 3:30 p.m., 'Our Voices, Our Future' rally at Sykes Student Union, West Chester University

• 7 p.m., 'America con Hillary' rally at Cobre restaurant, Philadelphia.


Sen. Barack Obama

• 11 a.m., Community event at Soldiers & Sailors Military Museum and Memorial, 4141 Fifth Ave., Oakland. Doors open at 9 a.m.

• 5:30 p.m., Town hall meeting at Hempfield Area High School, 4345 Route 136, Greensburg. Doors open at 3:30 p.m.

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