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Monday, December 04, 2006

Excelsior Team Has Bite

- I linked to an article in the Saratogian the other day which quoted an Excelsior spokesperson named Howard Wolfson. I thought the name sounded familiar - I was thinking of Howard Rubenstein, a long time spokesperson for George Steinbrenner; as you may know, Steinbrenner's son-in-law Steve Swindal is one of Excelsior's principals.

But I was listening to a report on the radio today about Hillary Clinton apparently signaling her intention to run for president, and they played a quote from a Clinton spokesperson named Howard Wolfson. And I realized that that's where I remembered the name.

Indeed, the Albany Times Union recently listed Wolfson as a "player" in, and the spokesperson for Excelsior. He is in fact Senator Clinton's communications director, and, according to a recent profile in the NY Times, an equal among Mrs. Clinton's circle of top advisers. He also assisted in executing the Democrats' assault on Republican held House seats in the November election, at times utilizing nasty negative advertising campaigns.

In many ways, Mr. Wolfson's bare-knuckle brand of politics is reminiscent of the tactics of Karl Rove, President Bush's chief political adviser -- and a man whose skills Mr. Wolfson admits to admiring. While other Democrats tend to run campaigns that largely focus on issues, Mr. Wolfson is more than willing to make an opponent's character the central theme of a race.

In Mrs. Clinton's re-election race, for example, the Clinton camp sized up her Republican opponent, John Spencer, a former mayor of Yonkers, and concluded it had several ways it could try to define him to voters, said Democrats close to the campaign.

It could have gone after him on his record by pointing out that he had increased taxes and spending in Yonkers. It could have gone after him on his politics by hammering away at the fact that he opposes abortion rights and supports gun rights. But instead, it chose a third way, reflected in just about every one of Mr. Wolfson's public comments about Mr. Spencer.

Mr. Wolfson sought to cast doubts about Mr. Spencer's stability by noting, again and again, how Mr. Spencer had once joked about wanting to kill a federal judge and a governor who had crossed him. [New York Times]
One gets the feeling that Excelsior may not remain quiet indefinitely in the face of any further attacks by Empire.