White House quid pro quo and tampering with a Senate primary are nice and all, but this scandal could really use, I dunno, something to spice it up. A dash of Jim Traficant, maybe? A few grinds of fresh Blago? A sprig of Kennedy?
Oh, I know! How about a fine dusting of William Jefferson Clinton:
Senior White House advisers asked former President Bill Clinton to talk to Joe Sestak about whether he was serious about running for Senate, and to feel out whether he’d be open to other alternatives, according to sources familiar with the situation.
But the White House maintains that the Clinton-Sestak discussions were informal, according to the sources. The White House, under pressure to divulge the specifics of its interactions with Sestak, will release a formal statement later today outlining their version of events, including Clinton’s involvement.
According to the sources, White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel asked Clinton and his longtime adviser, lawyer Doug Band, to talk to Sestak about the race. It’s unclear right now whether the White House will say that Clinton was asked to suggest specific administration positions for Sestak, whether Clinton floated positions on his own, whether Clinton discussed other options not related to the adminstration, or whether employment even came up at all in the talks.
But the news that Clinton is at the center of this whole story is noteworthy on its own because of the former president’s stature, and underscores how heavily invested the White House was in dissuading Sestak from running. The White House sent Clinton to talk to Sestak because Arlen Specter, constituting the 60th Dem vote in the Senate, was viewed as key to enacting Obama’s agenda.
The White House maintains that Clinton’s overtures to Sestak merely constituted an effort to gauge his seriousness about the race, the sources say, adding that Clinton was informally discussing the range of options open to Sestak as part of a larger conversation meant to ascertain Sestak’s thinking.
Expect the official administration release on this later in the day.
UPDATE: A reader weighs in:
“The only thing missing from the NYT article quote on Clinton’s involvement with Sestak were the lines, “Yeah, that’s the ticket.””