Monday, October 29, 2007

NATIONAL & WORLD DIGEST October 29, 2007

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Inside Higher Education

Furor Over Anti-Islam Speaker
Oct. 29

The president of Iran isn't the only Holocaust denier to win a platform onan American college campus.

At Michigan State University Friday, Nick Griffin, the leader of the BritishNational Party who was convicted in 1998 for incitement of racial hatredover material denying the Holocaust, was brought to campus for a speechdenouncing Islam. Griffin acknowledges having been a Holocaust denier, butsays he no longer is one. His party is on record opposing black-whitemarriages, believing that black people are less intelligent than whitepeople, and saying that ethnic minorities should be limited to 2-3 percentof the population of any given area in Britain.

Griffin was invited to Michigan State by the campus chapter of YoungAmericans for Freedom. He was supposed to give a one-hour talk about Islamand then answer questions for an hour, but audience members started shoutingat him shortly after he started his talk and he shifted to Q&A format so hecould answer what was being shouted at him.

The event took place on the last day of (but was not part of) Islamo-FascismAwareness Week, an event organized by David Horowitz to sponsor speakers oncampuses nationwide to criticize radical Islam. Organizers of the speech atMichigan State said that while they supported Horowitz's activities, it was"a coincidence" that they brought in their anti-Muslim speaker the same weekas Horowitz was planning his activities. Horowitz disavowed the event, butsome Muslim leaders said it was a perfect demonstration of their predictionthat his activities would make it easier for others to attack Islam oncampuses.

"Because Nick Griffin is a known Holocaust denier, people like DavidHorowitz want to separate themselves from someone like that," said NadaZohdy, a sophomore at Michigan State who is chair of political action forthe Muslim Students' Association. "What Horowitz does paves the way for evenmore extreme views to be expressed and tolerated - and to blur the linebetween an important discussion about threats to our nation and blatantexpressions of hatred."




Is McCain's Star Ascending In GOP?

by The Associated Press
Posted: October 28, 2007 - 8:00 am ET

(Washington) The stars may be aligning for John McCain. The question iswhether the Republican presidential candidate can hitch a ride to success.

"I'm happy with where we are," McCain says often these days - and he shouldbe.

Just a few months ago, the one-time front-runner for the GOP nomination hadhit rock bottom, with financial, political and organizational problems sosevere that many in the world of politics had written him off.

Today, he's proving he can't be counted out in the extraordinarily fluidnomination race.

"Lots of people pronounced him dead on the table. It's fair to say he wentinto a vegetative state. Now, he's clearly showing signs of life," said TonyFabrizio, a Republican pollster unaligned in the race who once declaredMcCain politically dead. "It's still a long shot, but less of a long shotthan it was four months ago."

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The New York Times

Argentine First Lady Claims Victory

October 29, 2007
Filed at 6:55 a.m. ET

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) -- President Nestor Kirchner and first ladyCristina Fernandez are poised to switch jobs in December, with partialresults indicating Argentines elected a female president for the first timeand launched their country's most powerful political dynasty since Juan andEvita Peron.

Fernandez is a lawyer and senator who followed her husband as he rose froman obscure governorship to the presidency, drawing comparisons to Sen.Hillary Rodham Clinton. She would bring a feistier and more glamorous styleto the Pink House, Argentina's presidential palace, in which she has alreadyspent the last four years.

But it is unclear how much change she will bring. Analysts say a strong wingives Fernandez an opportunity to right the problems of her husband'sadministration, including high inflation, an energy crisis and a shrinkingbudget surplus. Some warned her not to see it as an endorsement of all ofKirchner's policies.

In her victory speech Sunday night, Fernandez, 54, pledged not to let thathappen.

''We have won amply,'' she said. ''But this, far from putting us in aposition of privilege, puts us instead in a position of greaterresponsibilities and obligations.''

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The New York Times

Fearing Fear Itself

October 29, 2007
Op-Ed Columnist

In America's darkest hour, Franklin Delano Roosevelt urged the nation not tosuccumb to "nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror." But that was then.

Today, many of the men who hope to be the next president - including all ofthe candidates with a significant chance of receiving the Republicannomination - have made unreasoning, unjustified terror the centerpiece oftheir campaigns.

Consider, for a moment, the implications of the fact that Rudy Giuliani istaking foreign policy advice from Norman Podhoretz, who wants us to startbombing Iran "as soon as it is logistically possible."

Mr. Podhoretz, the editor of Commentary and a founding neoconservative,tells us that Iran is the "main center of the Islamofascist ideology againstwhich we have been fighting since 9/11." The Islamofascists, he tells us,are well on their way toward creating a world "shaped by their will andtailored to their wishes." Indeed, "Already, some observers are warning thatby the end of the 21st century the whole of Europe will be transformed intoa place to which they give the name Eurabia."

Do I have to point out that none of this makes a bit of sense?

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The Washington Post

Iran Adapts to Economic Pressure
Oil Market Could Help It Weather U.S. Sanctions

By Steven Mufson and Robin Wright
Washington Post Staff Writers
Monday, October 29, 2007; A01

Confronted by mounting U.S. and U.N. pressure, Iran has been steadilyshifting its trade from West to East and, with the benefit of record highoil prices, is likely to be able to withstand the new U.S. sanctions,according to U.S., European and Iranian analysts.

China, a permanent member of the Security Council that can veto any U.N.resolution, is expected to overtake Germany as Iran's biggest tradingpartner this year. Germany and other European countries had consistentlybeen Iran's largest trading partners for more than a decade, according tothe Iran Investment Monthly.

The U.S. Treasury said that more than 40 banks, mostly in Europe, havecurbed business with Iran as a result of U.S. pressure, but smaller banks,Islamic financial institutions and Asian banks are likely to step in andreplace the Western financial institutions through which Iran has long soldoil on the international market. Oil traders said that Iran does anincreasing portion of its petroleum sales in euros and yen, instead of U.S.dollars, and often through third parties, to help its customers circumventU.S. financial sanctions.

"Given particularly the price and demand for oil, Iran clearly has leveragewith countries that need Iran's oil," said Shaul Bakhash, a George MasonUniversity historian and author of "The Reign of the Ayatollahs." Inaddition, he said, "Iran has a huge cushion of foreign-exchange reserves."

Iran's oil revenue this year will far exceed the government's budgetforecasts, which had assumed an average oil price of $60 a barrel. OnFriday, oil settled above $90. The extra revenue will make it easier for thegovernment to maintain social-services payments designed to bolster itspopularity amid economic problems.

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The Washington Post

Israeli PM Olmert Has Prostate Cancer

The Associated Press
Monday, October 29, 2007; 7:25 AM

JERUSALEM -- Prime Minister Ehud Olmert announced Monday that he hasprostate cancer but that the disease is not life threatening and he willcontinue to perform his duties.

Speaking to a packed news conference in Jerusalem, the Israeli leader saidthe disease was caught at an early stage and that he will have surgery "overthe next few months."

"I will be able to carry out my duties fully before the treatment and withinhours afterward," Olmert said. "My doctors ... informed me that there is afull chance of recovery and there is nothing about the tumor which islife-threatening or liable to impair my performance or my ability to carryout the mission which has been bestowed upon me.

"It is a matter of a microscopic growth, it hasn't spread and can be removedby a short surgical procedure. According to the medical opinion, there willbe no need for radiation treatment or chemotherapy," Olmert said.

Olmert, 62, took office in March 2006 after his predecessor, Ariel Sharon,suffered a debilitating stroke. Olmert delivered the news of his illnesscalmly, speaking for about three minutes before leaving the room and givingthe podium to his doctors.

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The Washington Post

Saying Yes to France
Today's Security Challenges Cry Out for Its Return to Full NATOParticipation

By Ronald D. Asmus
Monday, October 29, 2007; A15

French President Nicolas Sarkozy has indicated his willingness to bringFrance back into NATO. It is an offer the United States should not refuse.Earlier in my career, I was a hard-liner on France and NATO. In fact, when Istepped down from the State Department in 2000, the French ambassador toWashington was so relieved he toasted my departure at a European Unionambassadors' lunch because of my dogged pursuit of U.S. interests. (Iconsidered it a back-handed compliment.)

But times change, and so should our thinking.

First, Sarkozy's opening to the United States and NATO is real andrepresents a critical shift in French thinking. He is the first Frenchpresident in decades who likes America and does not seek to demonize forpolitical purposes the U.S. capitalist system or our foreign policy. SinceCharles de Gaulle, France has sought to maximize its influence in Europe bybeing the counterweight to America. Paris has always had, at least intheory, the option to maximize its influence by becoming a key interlocutorand broker of the terms of U.S.-European cooperation. This may be preciselywhat Sarkozy has in mind. He knows that the world is becoming more dangerousand that America and Europe need to face this century's problems together.

Second, both sides are paying a price for missing past opportunities to burythe hatchet. It is not widely known how close Washington and Paris came to adeal on NATO in the mid-1990s. In his first meeting with President BillClinton in 1995, President Jacques Chirac announced his willingness to bringFrance back to the alliance. American and French diplomats worked hard on adeal; the critical, final stumbling block was French representation inalliance command structures. Buried in the National Archives is a secretmemo showing just how close Clinton and Chirac's national security adviserscame to bridging the gap on this issue before the latter called, andsubsequently lost, parliamentary elections, which ended this effort. What ifover the past decade France had been in the core of the alliance? What ifChirac had continued to move closer to the United States instead ofretreating back into Gaullist anti-Americanism? U.S.-European relations andthe world would undoubtedly be better off.

Third, what America needs from Europe has fundamentally changed -- andhaving France on our side is more important than ever. Increasingly, thecommon challenges we face are outside European borders. The United Statesneeds a strong and coherent Europe as a partner to project its influencearound the world. Sarkozy and his foreign minister, Bernard Kouchner, aretrying to inject a greater moral component into French policy. This makesParis an even more attractive partner. Much of that cooperation entailsissues in which the European Union also is key. Thus, a French move towardNATO should be matched by a U.S. move toward a new and more strategicU.S.-E.U. relationship.

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The Washington Post

Can Bhutto Survive?

By Robert D. Novak
Monday, October 29, 2007; A15

Benazir Bhutto, back in Pakistan following eight years in exile, had plansto tour the country seeking voter support. But she is holed up in Karachiafter the near-miss attempt on her life. The government has declined toprovide the former prime minister minimal security against renewedassassination attempts. That points up the difficulty of a shadowy newpartnership between Bhutto and Gen. Pervez Musharraf, who was reelectedpresident by Pakistan's electoral college on Oct. 6.

Arbab Rahim, chief minister of Sindh province, which includes Karachi, hasrefused Bhutto special police protection, cars with tinted windows andbomb-jamming equipment. For weeks before her return, Bhutto was deniedjammers against improvised explosive devices and additional armor on hervehicles. But a telephone call from the Pakistani president to Rahim, one ofhis lieutenants, surely could have given Bhutto the protection she desired.

So, who wants to kill Benazir Bhutto? Not Musharraf, who is astute enough toknow that his complicity in her death would be devastating for himpolitically. Yet he has not been forthcoming in investigating the Oct. 18bombing in Karachi or preventing its recurrence. That provides a dilemma forPresident Bush. While his administration depicts the enigmatic Musharraf asa faithful fighter of terrorism, it recognizes that Bhutto as prime ministerwould be unequivocally against Islamic extremism.

Al-Qaeda and the Taliban, which do not want Bhutto to lead Pakistan'sgovernment a third time, were behind the suicide bombing but do not appearto have acted alone. In addition to the bombing, which took 140 lives,snipers fired on her convoy, a fact that was not publicized. Not al-Qaeda'sstyle, that tactic points to Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence agency(ISI), or at least to rogue elements within it. Musharraf, though stillmilitary commander, does not exercise complete control over the ISI, whichis considered a state within a state and gave birth to the Taliban inAfghanistan.

It is difficult to identify attempted assassins because Interior MinisterAftab Khan Sherpao said he would "categorically reject" help fromworld-class FBI forensic investigators. Sherpao once was a leader ofBhutto's Pakistan People's Party (PPP), but he changed sides in return forbeing absolved of Musharraf's criminal charges against him. More than 10days after the bombing, it is too late for forensic evidence.

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The Washington Post

Foreign Policy Grown-Up
Where Clinton Stands Out Among the Democrats

By Sebastian Mallaby
Monday, October 29, 2007; A15

So now Barack Obama has come out swinging against Hillary Clinton. Aftermonths of gentlemanly restraint, he accuses her of poll-tested, triangulateddissembling. It's true that Clinton has ducked questions on Social Securityreform and abandoned her husband's principled commitment to free trade. Butthe Obama attack deserves to fail. On the big foreign policy questions ofthe day, it is Obama who looks craven and Clinton who looks honest.

Begin with the Iran debate. All the Democratic presidential hopefuls knowthat a nuclear Iran is scary. They know that the Europeans have beenpatiently negotiating with Iran to secure a freeze of its program and thatthe Iranians have been stalling. But Clinton is the only Democraticcandidate who unequivocally embraces the obvious next step: Push hard forthe sanctions that might change Iran's calculations. Unlike all heropponents, Clinton supported a pro-sanctions resolution in the Senate. Eversince that vote, Obama and the rest have attacked her mercilessly.

It's not that Clinton's rivals believe sanctions are mistaken. It's thatthey lack the courage to defy Bush-hating primary voters, who think thatlining up with the president on any issue is like becoming a Death Eater. "Ilearned a clear lesson from the lead-up to the Iraq war in 2002," saysbase-pleasing John Edwards, "if you give this president an inch, he willtake a mile -- and launch a war." "This is a lesson that I think SenatorClinton and others should have learned," Obama echoes. "You can't give thispresident a blank check and then act surprised when he cashes it."

The truth is that Clinton did not give Bush any sort of "blank check" -- ifBush wants to bomb Iran or hit Iranian units inside Iraq, he can do sowithout a Senate resolution. But Obama and Edwards are so intent onBush-bashing that they refuse to cut him any slack, even when he advances apolicy that they might ordinarily favor. After the administration announceda new package of Iran sanctions on Thursday, Edwards declared that thepresident and his team had once again "rattled their sabers in their marchtoward military action." Bush hatred has driven him to the point where heregards sanctions as a harbinger of war rather than an alternative.

Clinton's rivals are contemplating history and deriving only a narrow lessonabout Bush: Don't trust him when he confronts a Muslim country. But thelarger, more durable lesson from Iraq is that wars can be caused by a lackof confrontation. The Iraq invasion happened partly because the world hadlost the stomach to confront Saddam Hussein by other means. By 2002, thesanctions on Hussein's regime had been diluted, and there was pressure toweaken them further. Hussein was no longer "in his box," to use the languageof the time: If you believed that a resurgent Saddam Hussein presented anintolerable threat, it was worth taking the risk of unseating him by force,sooner rather than later.

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The Washington Post

Teen Pregnancy, Birth Rates Plummet Across D.C. Region

By Susan Levine
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, October 29, 2007; A01

Teen pregnancy and birth rates have dropped sharply across the Washingtonregion in the past decade, with the District cutting its numbers by morethan half to historic lows.

Arlington and Prince George's counties also have recorded striking decreasesin both rates, which are among the most important indicators of children'swell-being. And in virtually every jurisdiction, the trajectories have beenparticularly marked among African American teens, closing much of aonce-intractable gap with white rates.

The reversals reflect national trends that have public health expertshopeful that programs and messages aimed at adolescents have hit their markat last.

"We think kids are making better choices," said Donald Shell, health officerfor Prince George's, where the birthrate for females age 15 to 19 fell bynearly a third between 1996 and 2005. "Our efforts finally are bringingforth some fruit."

The District has accomplished dramatic improvement. In 1996, its pregnancyrate for the same age group was 164.5 per 1,000. Appalled by the tripledigits, a coalition of nonprofit groups and city agencies began reaching outto various communities, holding public discussions and trying to teachparents how to talk to their children about love, sex and relationships.

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The Washington Post

Iowa Democrats Set Earlier Caucus Date

The Associated Press
Monday, October 29, 2007; 12:01 AM

DES MOINES, Iowa -- Iowa Democrats voted Sunday to move their leadoffprecinct caucuses to Jan. 3, the same date Republicans picked earlier thismonth, letting both parties continue the tradition of meeting on the samenight.

The state's precinct caucuses had been scheduled for Jan. 14, but theparties decided to move them up under pressure from other states rushing tothe beginning of the primary calendar.

The move, confirmed by party spokesman Chris Allen, means the majorremaining question about the calendar is the New Hampshire primary,originally scheduled for Jan. 22.

New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner has said only that he wouldschedule that primary no later than Jan. 8.

Both Gov. Chet Culver and Sen. Tom Harkin, the state's top two Democrats,had pushed for the Jan. 3 date, and Iowa Democratic chairman Scott Brennanlast week made that recommendation to the party's state Central Committee,which approved it Sunday night.

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The Miami Herald

Troubling questions for Judge Mukasey

Posted on Mon, Oct. 29, 2007

When President Bush nominated former federal Judge Michael B. Mukasey tobecome attorney general back in mid-September, we called him a crediblechoice. He embodied the hope of restoring integrity to the Department ofJustice following the disastrous tenure of Alberto Gonzales. We stillbelieve he can do a good job, but the positions on torture and the reach ofexecutive power that he offered at his confirmation hearings raise troublingquestions about his suitability for the job.

Skilled, experienced

Mr. Mukasey is much more than the non-Gonzales. He is a skilled andexperienced lawyer, with a wealth of legal acumen. He made clear to senatorsthat under his stewardship the department would no longer serve as apolitical outpost of the White House. The nominee told Sen. Arlen Specter,R-Pa., that if the president persisted in a course of action that Mr.Mukasey deemed unconstitutional, he would be forced to resign as attorneygeneral.

At the same time, Mr. Mukasey championed a robust presidency with expansivepowers, including authority to conduct warrantless surveillance -- exactlywhat might be expected from someone nominated by Mr. Bush. Some senatorsmight wish him to adopt a more modest position on secret spying or to showmore deference to the balance of powers and the role of Congress in wagingwar. So would we.

Still, his views on these issues, while contentious, do not rise to thelevel of disqualification. The trouble lies elsewhere.

Mr. Mukasey refused to say whether the interrogation technique known aswaterboarding is a form of torture or otherwise illegal, saying he was notaware of how this was carried out. This is astonishing, given the verypublic controversy over whether terrorism detainees are subjected to tortureby CIA interrogators. The technique is widely considered to fall underconventional definitions of torture, and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.,something of an expert on the subject, calls it ``very exquisite torture.''

President's authority

On another topic, Mr. Mukasey left open the possibility that the president'sauthority as commander in chief can supersede federal statutes. Under thisreading, the president would be well within his powers to ignore the lawwhenever he deemed it proper, not confining himself to those instances whenhe believed Congress had enacted an unconstitutional measure.

''How do you deal with the public concern that the rule of law is supremeand the president at times appears to put himself above the law?'' Sen.Specter asked in a subsequent letter. Before the Senate votes on Mr.Mukasey's nomination, it should demand that he answer that question andstate plainly whether he believes waterboarding constitutes torture. Hisconfirmation may well depend on how he responds.


The Washington Post

In S.C., Obama Seeks a Spiritual Reawakening

By Sridhar Pappu
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, October 29, 2007; C01

CHARLESTON, S.C. -- As a man not only of God but of politics, the Rev. JoeDarby is an outspoken observer of the campaign scene. Reclining in hiscluttered office at Morris Brown AME Church here, he witnesses the unionbetween the pulpit and the polls.

"Politics does come down to some degree of emotion . . . ," says Darby, oneof this state's most prominent African American preachers, whose church is amagnet for Democratic presidential hopefuls. "The Democratic Party is justcatching up to that. It's been nauseatingly safe in recent years."

As if from Darby's mouth to Sen. Barack Obama's ears, the Democraticpresidential candidate from Illinois -- hoping his campaign can recapturesome of that old-time religious fervor -- launched a three-city gospelconcert series over the weekend across the state, in North Charleston,Greenwood and Columbia. Although Obama did not attend the "Embrace theChange" series in person (instead campaigning in Iowa), he was here inspirit, appearing by video screen and sending out his surrogates, such aspastor Hezekiah Walker and singer Beverly Crawford.

Obama's campaign could certainly use reenergizing. Since he announced hisintention to run for the presidency, Obama -- and the powerful ebb thatsurrounded him wherever he woke, spoke, ate and sat -- seems to havewithered beneath the supernova that is the Clinton campaign. Today, thesenator from New York carries with her a fortified sense of inevitability,laughing off controversies while appearing on Sunday morning shows, showingno wounds from questions about fundraising, absorbing Obama's criticism overthe weekend regarding Social Security. A recent Washington Post-ABC Newspoll shows Clinton leading Obama by more than 20 percent, with a lead of 13percent among African American voters.

Those numbers mirror polling results in South Carolina, where any candidatehoping to capture this early primary state needs much of the AfricanAmerican vote. But Obama cannot presume such support as he tries to catchClinton, who has been embraced by many black voters.

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The Detroit News

Dems try to settle primary: National party chairman works with state toresolve date dispute

Gordon Trowbridge / Detroit News Washington Bureau
Monday, October 29, 2007

FARMINGTON HILLS -- The nation's top Democratic Party official said Sundayhe believes the state and national parties can work out a solution to thesometimes bitter standoff over Michigan's Jan. 15 presidential primary.

"Whatever differences there are, we continue to work to see if there's asolution," said Howard Dean, chairman of the Democratic National Committee,before a fundraising dinner for Oakland County Democrats.

"There are ways of working this out."

Dean said he wouldn't publicly reveal those discussions, but he and stateparty Chairman Mark Brewer said they talk regularly in hopes of resolvingthe dispute.

The talk of negotiation was unlikely to satisfy critics such as Sen. CarlLevin, a longtime critic of the dominance of New Hampshire and Iowa in theearly nomination process.

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The Washington Post

Giuliani Blasts Clinton Over Remarks

The Associated Press
Monday, October 29, 2007; 4:42 AM

PETERBOROUGH, N.H. -- Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani onSunday blasted Hillary Rodham Clinton for talking about what she would do onthe diplomatic front between her possible election and inauguration.

Clinton has told crowds she would send "distinguished Americans of bothpolitical parties to travel around the world on my behalf with a very simplemessage to the governments and the people alike: The era of cowboy diplomacyis over."

Giuliani, pointing to a story in Sunday's Des Moines Register about herstatements, said such comments hurt the United States and undermine thebalance of President Bush's term, which ends Jan. 20, 2009.

"I think that it's important that we conduct this debate in a way that wedon't interfere with the ability of the country to function in a proper way,between the now and (the election)," Giuliani said at the start of a townhall-style meeting in Peterborough.

Campaigning with his wife, Judith, the former New York mayor said Clintonshould retract the statements and respect Bush's responsibility.

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Houston Chronicle

Health care money going to Democrats
Industry's giving 'a defensive' move, some experts say

New York Times
Oct. 29, 2007, 7:32AM

WASHINGTON - In a reversal from past election cycles, Democratic candidatesfor president are outpacing Republicans in donations from the health careindustry, even as the leading Democrats in the field offer proposals thathave caused anxiety in some sectors.

Hospitals, drugmakers, doctors and insurers gave candidates in both partiesmore than $11 million in the first nine months of this year, according to ananalysis of campaign finance records done for The New York Times by theCenter for Responsive Politics, an independent group that tracks campaignfinance.

In all, the Democratic presidential candidates have raised about $6.5million from the industry, compared with nearly $4.8 million for theRepublican candidates. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York has amassedthe most of any candidate; her calls for broad changes to the health caresystem could pose financial challenges to private insurers, drug companiesand other sectors.

Clinton received $2.7 million through the end of September, far more thanMitt Romney, the Republican who raised the most from the health careindustry, with $1.6 million. The industry's drift in contributions towardDemocrats mirrors wider trends among donors, but the donations from thissector are particularly notable because of the party's focus on overhaulingthe health care system.

People in the health care industry say the giving reflects a growing sensethat the Democrats are in a strong position to win the White House nextyear. It also underscores the industry's frantic effort to influence thecandidates, as Democrats push their proposals to address what many pollsshow is a top concern among voters.

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