Clinton: Vast right-wing conspiracy in New Hampshire
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Democratic Presidential hopeful Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., walks off of the stage after speaking to the National League of Cities meeting in Washington, Tuesday, March 13, 2007. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
Hillary Clinton (D) Senator, New York
Born: 10/26/1947
Birthplace: Chicago, IL
Home: Chappaqua, NY
Religion: Methodist
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WASHINGTON -- Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton on Tuesday described past Republican political malfeasance in New Hampshire as evidence of a "vast, right-wing conspiracy."

Clinton's barbed comments revived a term she coined for the partisan plotting during her husband's presidential tenure and echoed remarks she made last weekend in New Hampshire, which holds the nation's first primary.

Her rhetorical red meat to a sympathetic audience of Democratic municipal officials comes as Clinton courts New Hampshire voters and squeezes donors for dollars ahead of a March 31 fund-raising report deadline. She also continues to face criticism from the party's liberal base for her failure to repudiate her vote authorizing military force in Iraq.

Clinton asserted on Tuesday that the conspiracy is alive and well, and cited as proof the Election Day 2002 case of phone jamming in New Hampshire, a case in which two Republican operatives pleaded guilty to criminal charges, and a third was convicted.

"To the New Hampshire Democratic Party's credit, they sued and the trail led all the way to the Republican National Committee," Clinton said.

"So if anybody tells you there is no vast, right-wing conspiracy, tell them that New Hampshire has proven it in court," she said.

Former RNC operative James Tobin was convicted of telephone harassment and appealed his conviction. The investigation arose after Democratic organizers' phones were overwhelmed by annoying hang-up calls hindering their get-out-the-vote efforts.

Clinton accused the GOP of a number of other anti-voter actions, including intimidating phone calls during the 2006 congressional elections.

New Hampshire Democratic Party Chairwoman Kathy Sullivan said she absolutely agreed with the New York senator's description of the case.

"People think we're paranoid when we talk about the vast, right-wing conspiracy, but there is a real connection of these groups -- the same names keep popping up," Sullivan said. "They are the most disgusting group of political thugs that I have ever seen."

RNC spokeswoman Tracey Schmitt responded that Democrats "might be disappointed to learn that almost a decade later, the senator's playbook consists of little more than a resurrection of Clinton-era talking points." Clinton made her charge of conspiracy in response to a question about her proposed bill that would make Election Day a federal holiday, and make it a crime to send misleading or fraudulent information to voters.

She also said the government should do more to end unusually long lines at certain polling places.

"It just so happens that many of those places where people are waiting for hours are places where people of color are voting or young people are voting. That is un-American, and we're going to end it," Clinton said.

In January 1998, as the investigation into her husband's affair with intern Monica Lewinsky probe engulfed the White House, Clinton appeared on NBC's "Today" show and dismissed the allegations as part of a broader effort to smear her husband with groundless investigations.

"The great story here for anybody willing to find it and write about it and explain it is this vast, right-wing conspiracy that has been conspiring against my husband since the day he announced for president," the first lady said at the time.

As evidence of the affair eventually came to light, the comment was ridiculed. But many Democrats have since insisted that Clinton was correct, pointing to the well-documented efforts by conservative financier Richard Mellon Scaife to fund a network of anti-Clinton investigations.

Clinton aides noted Tuesday that she also revisited the conspiracy comments back in 2003, when she said: "My only regret was using the word conspiracy, because there's absolutely nothing secret about it."

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