A senior Democratic Senator co-hosting a fundraiser for her party’s presidential nominee typically isn’t big news. But when it comes to Sen. Mary Landrieu, up for re-election in red state Louisiana where Barack Obama remains largely unpopular, supporting her party’s presidential ticket can be a delicate issue. And when her name appears, and then disappears from Obama’s Web site as one of the co-hosts to an Obama fundraiser titled “Lipstick, Laughter and Libations,” it becomes irresistible fodder for political reporters and pundits. This week, the story of Landrieu getting de-listed from an Obama fundraiser – a story that first broke almost two weeks ago – was picked up nationwide, making the Associated Press, NBC, ABC, Fox and scores of other political columns and blogs. Even Comedy Central and the pro-Hillary Clinton blog, clintondems.com, took note.
For her part, Landrieu has tried to downplay the incident, which her campaign spokesman called a "clerical error." “The Obama event is part of a day-long series of DNC events focused on women's political involvement,” read a Landrieu campaign statement. “Sen. Landrieu is scheduled to attend the event as part of the day-long series of events, but is not hosting. She was never scheduled to host, so we imagine that somebody made an error and accidently listed her as a host.”
But for many political observers, it was hard to believe that something as carefully planned as a presidential fundraiser could be accidentally listing U.S. Senators on its host committee – a line being perpetuated by Landrieu’s Republican opponent, John Kennedy. Contacted by The Independent, Kennedy communications director Lenny Alcivar calls the story a “landmark moment” in the campaign. “We landed a clean shot,” says Alcivar, who was responsible for first e-mailing out the online screen capture of Landrieu’s name on Obama’s fundraiser invitation. “It was one of these things that started off innocent enough,” he continues, “and I think her response more than anything probably made it even worse because she panicked. It became clear how terribly afraid Mary Landrieu is about Barack Obama and his candidacy’s effect on her re-election prospects.”