Wallace: Happy to be invited to Clinton’s dance

It’s always preferable to conduct interviews face to face, but hey, if Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) wants to visit via satellite from a barn in New York, who was Fox News to complain?

That’s “Fox News Sunday” host Chris Wallace’s take on Clinton’s appearance last weekend on his show.

Coincidentally, it was one year ago when Wallace conducted his now-famous interview with former President Bill Clinton, in which the senator’s husband accused Wallace of a right-leaning bias in his queries.

But despite that flap, Sen. Clinton went on Fox.

 And like her appearances on the other four Sunday talk shows, Clinton gave long, filibuster-like answers.

“It’s always tough doing interviews by satellite,” said Wallace in a phone call to ITK Monday afternoon. “Given the inclination by Democratic candidates to not appear on Fox News, we were delighted to be included, to be invited to the dance at all.”

If Clinton had appeared in the studio, Wallace said, he would have been able to interrupt her more easily. “You can, as they’re talking, try to get their eye, or put up a hand as if you want to say something,” he said.

Wallace said Clinton had intended to do the interview on Friday, but then it became pre-taped on Sunday morning.
“It’s always a negotiation,” said Wallace of Clinton’s choice to film from her barn. “They have to decide how hard they want to make it for you. You have to do decide how much you want them.”

So how badly did he want her?

“Obviously no one was going to turn down Senator Clinton,” he said. “We have obviously been asking for her for a very long time.”

Wallace said he wasn’t sure about the specifics on the wooing process. “Frankly, that is done at a different level,” he said. “Word came out that she was available to do all five Sunday shows.”

Wallace said some shows were miffed not to get a Clinton exclusive. Not Fox News. “We were delighted,” he said.

The host said he planned to bring up her husband’s angry appearance in a humorous way.

After he showed a clip of last year’s interview with President Clinton, Wallace asked, “Senator, talk about conservative hit jobs, right-wing conspiracies — why do you and the president have such a hyper-partisan view of politics?”

At the close of the interview, Wallace sent her husband his regards.

“I was trying to be provocative in a good-humored way and I think she responded in a similar manner,” he said.


Lawmaker postpones food stamp challenge

Some people really do have to survive on a $21 food budget for a week. Not so when it comes to lawmakers taking the so-called “food stamp challenge.”

Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) last week confirmed to ITK that he’d be postponing his food stamp challenge because he has to attend a niece’s wedding in Las Vegas. “It’s going to be a little rough to try to restrain myself,” Grijalva admitted. Grijalva plans to stay at the Fremont Hotel & Casino in downtown Las Vegas. “I like it better than the Strip,” he says.

The Fremont Hotel and Casino is known for its “epicurean” dining experiences. “For over 50 years, this legendary hotel has attracted visitors to its dining venues,” its website says.

The hotel’s dining venues include the Second Street Grill (Pacific Rim and contemporary cuisine in a casual yet upscale atmosphere), Tony Roma’s (world-famous for its tender, juicy rib dishes and signature onion ring loaf) and the Paradise Buffet (an all-you-can-eat experience in a tropical rainforest setting).

For those in a hurry? Try the Lanai Express, where guests can choose from American favorites like the jumbo hot dog or Chinese dishes.

Grijalva said he wasn’t the only one to postpone the challenge and suggested that Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) had also planned to postpone.

Not so, according to Ellison’s office. Not only did Ellison complete his food stamp challenge last Friday, but he’s fasting from sunup to sundown for the holy month of Ramadan.

What did Ellison eat for his week on $21? “It sounded like a lot of rice and beans,” said Ellison spokesman Rick Jauert. “He went and shopped and found he had to put some things back.”

Ellison is serious about both the food stamp challenge and Ramadan, so much so that he refused a cup of water at the food stamp challenge presser last week, at which water was offered to all the participants.

Fasting wasn’t easy, nor was subsiding on a $3 per day dinner, which is what Ellison had to do. “You really have to concentrate on what you’re saying because you feel the effects,” Jauert said.

Thankfully, now Ellison can gorge at night if he so chooses.

“He can eat as much as he wants,” Jauert said.

Perhaps Grijalva was referring to Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) as the fellow colleague who is waiting to start his food stamp challenge. Van Hollen, who chairs the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), plans to complete his challenge in October, but no date has been set.

“He will do it in October ... he was always going to do [it in October],” said a Van Hollen spokeswoman.

So why was he at last week’s presser? “Well, he supports the effort, obviously,” the spokeswoman said. “A date has not been set. It’s going to depend on his DCCC travel plans.”


It’s politics. Nothing personal.  

Politics takes back seat between Sen. McConnell and Rep. Simpson

Politics isn’t always personal.

After revelations of the arrest of Sen. Larry Craig (R-Idaho), Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho), a longtime friend of Craig’s, accused Senate leadership, specifically Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), of throwing Craig “under the bus.”

As angered as some of McConnell’s press aides were by Simpson’s pointed condemnation, McConnell apparently differentiates between politics and personal matters. When Simpson recently lost his 60-year-old brother, Steve, in a motorcycle accident in Idaho, McConnell sent him a condolence card.

To be sure, Simpson was surprised by the gesture. “So he doesn’t hate me too much,” Simpson said jokingly.

On a more serious note, Simpson said his brother was driving down a two-lane road in rural Idaho when he tried to pass a Hayswather truck. Unfortunately, at that precise moment, the 80-something driver made a fatal left-hand turn.

Simpson says the death of his brother, a dental lab technician, has been particularly tough on his 81-year-old mother.  “You’re not supposed to bury your kids,” he said.

Idaho Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter (R) attended the funeral along with Simpson and his relatives.

ITK sends its heartfelt condolences to Simpson on the loss of his brother.


Announcements

Wedding brings political, fashion worlds together


Shannon Rusbuldt, a former Hill aide, will marry Joe Fredo, the nephew of Tommy Hilfiger, on Oct. 6 at the historic New York Avenue Presbyterian Church here in Washington.

The reception will be at the Willard Hotel, the hotel famous for coining the term “lobbyist.” The rehearsal dinner the night before will be at Georgetown’s Café Milano and will be hosted by Betsy Hilfiger (the groom’s mother) and Tommy Hilfiger.

Rusbuldt worked on Capitol Hill for former Rep. Mike Oxley (R-Ohio) and Sen. Jim Bunning (R-Ky.). Both members, and other Capitol Hill luminaries, are invited to the wedding, along with fashion models and leaders in the fashion industry.

Rusbuldt, a model with Elite, said she keeps her hand in politics when time allows. “I’m currently doing some volunteer work for Rudy Giuliani,” she said.

A friend of the family said, “This will be one of those weddings for the style section of newspapers — supermodels, politicians and movers and shakers — a great event to be invited to and attend, especially if you’re from Washington or New York! What’s not to like?”

The bride’s father is Robert Rusbuldt, CEO of the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America, and himself a former Hill staffer.