| Hillary: Ad heat
Washington, June 16: Senator Hillary Clinton, the Democratic front runner in the 2008 US presidential election, has pulled out an image of her with Mother Teresa from a campaign advertisement after the Missionaries of Charity objected to the use of the Mother’s image for political activity.
The use of the image, in a video narrative by the senator’s husband, former President Bill Clinton, had caused an uproar among Catholics in the US.
The leading Democrat’s campaign spokesman Phil Singer told reporters, who queried about changes to the video yesterday, that Mother Teresa’s “order asked us to remove it (Mother’s image) from the video, so we did”.
For Hillary, the flap over the video is the third unsavoury episode involving India or Indians in as many weeks as the US presidential campaign acquires its customary ugliness with rivals getting interest groups, including the media, to throw dirt at one another.
Two days ago, the campaign for the second most popular Democratic aspirant to the White House, Senator Barack Obama, ridiculed Hillary as a senator from Punjab, a reference to her claim in March that “I can certainly run for the Senate seat in Punjab and win easily”.
A three-page research document prepared by Obama’s campaign strategists titled “Hillary Clinton (Democrat-Punjab)’s Personal Financial and Political Ties”, was leaked to The New York Sun on Thursday.
It accused Bill Clinton of having invested in EasyBill Ltd, an Indian company doing work outsourced from the US, and Hillary of having taken tens of thousands of dollars in campaign money from companies that offshore jobs to India.
“Bill Clinton collected $300,000 from Cisco in 2006,” the document said.
“Hillary Clinton accepted almost $60,000 in contributions from employees of Cisco Systems” even as it was “laying off $60,000-a-year (American) ‘techies’, while hiring new employees in Bangalore.”
Obama, like John Kerry, the failed Democratic presidential candidate in 2004, is trying to make outsourcing an issue in the 2008 presidential election.
According to the text of the document published in New York, Hillary has strong ties with Sant Singh Chatwal, a Big Apple restaurateur who was arrested by Indian authorities “during a visit to India with Bill Clinton in May 2001”.
It is alleged that Chatwal was charged with defrauding the New York city branch of an Indian bank “out of $9 million he borrowed in 1994. He posted bail, then fled India, boarding a flight to Vienna despite an attempt by authorities to detain him”.
The third India-related controversy that surrounds Hillary relates to a lawsuit against Indian entrepreneur Vinod Gupta in Delaware that his company lent its corporate jet at a cost of $146,866 to fly Hillary and her husband in 2002 on a holiday to Acapulco in Mexico.
The suit filed by shareholders of Gupta’s company, InfoUSA, alleged that “during the next four years, InfoUSA paid Mr Clinton more than $2 million for consulting services, and spent almost $900,00 to fly him around for his presidential foundation work and to fly Mrs Clinton to campaign events”.
The use of Mother Teresa’s image in Hillary’s campaign video was brought to the attention of the Missionaries of Charity by a conservative Catholic group, Fidelis, which is angry about the New York Senator’s support for abortion, which the Mother opposed.
“Fidelis is very happy that the public campaign we waged against Hillary Clinton’s wholly inappropriate use of Blessed Mother Teresa’s image in a campaign video has succeeded,” the organisation said in a statement yesterday.
“If we had not alerted the Missionaries of Charity that Hillary Clinton’s campaign was inappropriately using Mother Teresa’s image, they would have never removed it from the video.”
The now-deleted portion of the campaign video showed Hillary waving alongside Mother Teresa as the narrative said: “Hillary, in effect, was the face of America, in Africa, in India.”