Terrorism, Fundraising, Stumping in Iowa

Presidential candidates are forced to grapple with issues of terrorism after a number of foiled attacks in Britain this past weekend. Sen. Obama of Illinois raises a remarkable amount of money in the campaign for president but still trails Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York in the polls.

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JOHN YDSTIE, host:

Joining us for some more analysis is NPR's Cokie Roberts. Good morning, Cokie.

COKIE ROBERTS: Good morning, John.

YDSTIE: Terrorist attacks, or the threat of them, have often had political consequences. Do you see any fallout from what's happening in Great Britain on U.S. politics?

ROBERTS: Well, it's a long time from any election, and that's a key. We certainly have seen the effects of terrorism coming to the fore on elections. In 2004, those terrorist attacks in Beslan in Russia certainly got the people we came to call security moms worried, and women voted more Republican than they normally do in that election.

And you see right now Rudy Giuliani trying to use this. Last week, when these attempts happened, his campaign sent out messages to news organizations saying Rudy Giuliani is available for comment on this because, of course, it's his big issue having been mayor of New York at the time of September 11th. Today, John McCain is headed to Baghdad to try to shore up his security credentials.

And clearly, if terrorism becomes a top issue close to the campaigns or close to the election, it can be a problem. It has been a problem for women in the past. We saw that in 1992 when there were a bunch of women running for the Senate and their poll numbers just went south after Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait. And it could be a problem for inexperienced people like Barack Obama. So both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama need to take a look at this and see if they have to adjust their campaigns to deal with terrorist attacks as they come down the pike.

YDSTIE: Meanwhile on the political money front, Senator Obama is raising money by the fistful. He raised a record amount for his presidential campaign in the second quarter this year.

ROBERTS: Indeed, he did - $32 million plus. And it's especially remarkable given the number of donors. His campaign says more than a quarter of a million people have given to his campaign and given small amounts, which means that they can be gone back to over and over again. He's still well behind Hillary Clinton in the polls, but that's good for Barack Obama. Being the frontrunner is being the person that you get shot at. And he's still the guy running from behind.

Hillary Clinton has also raised a great deal of money. But she is a little nervous in Iowa, and so she's bringing Bill Clinton into Iowa with her today for a three-day swing through that state. And we'll see how the former president and the former first lady play together on the campaign stage. It's going to be interesting to watch.

YDSTIE: Meanwhile, the current administration and Congress seem locked in a standoff. Yesterday, Democrat Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont said his demands for information from the White House could end up in court.

ROBERTS: Well, this is about the firing of those U.S. attorneys. And Leahy says we've got to see if law enforcement has been politicized. The White House says that the Senate demand for the documents (unintelligible) that they want confidential conversations and that the senator is overreaching. There are other subpoenas out there as well for other information and other - all about electronic surveillance. And Vice President Cheney is also locked in a fight with the National Archives, so lots of arguments about documents.

What normally happens here is that you get to a deal. But Leahy says, if necessary, he will cite the president for contempt of Congress. Usually, if you get to that point, then you really do get a deal.

YDSTIE: NPR News analyst Cokie Roberts. Thanks, Cokie.

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