Clinton pool report. At the Irish-American Presidential Forum in New York.

SHARE Clinton pool report. At the Irish-American Presidential Forum in New York.

WASHINGTON–Pool report from Amy Chozick, The Wall Street Journal

Hillary Clinton delivered remarks at the Irish-American Presidential

Forum, a meeting during which prominent Irish-Americans in New York

invite presidential candidates to talk about their positions on Irish

affairs.

Only news was the following statement made about the Olympics in Beijing

which was simultaneously emailed out by Phil Singer. “I wanted to

commend Prime Minister Gordon Brown for agreeing not to go to the

opening ceremonies of the Olympics in Beijing. That was an important

decision by Prime Minister Brown and I am calling on Senators McCain and

Obama to join me in my request that President Bush also not attend the

opening ceremonies.”

The other interesting thing that came up was a proposal (not sure if

it’s brand new) to establish Irish bonds. Similar to Israeli bonds,

these bonds would be bought by Irish Americans and support Ireland’s

infrastructure needs. “This would be a place where the Irish American

community would be particularly important,” Clinton said, adding it

would “create a steady revenue stream that would support the kind of

investments that would support” both the Republic and Northern Ireland.

About: The Irish American Presidential Forum was first organized by

Democratic assemblyman John C. Dearie in 1980. The forum has been held

every election year since then except 2004. Past attendees have included

Al Gore, Michael Dukakis, Gerry Brown and Bill Clinton (1992).

Clinton arrived thirty minutes late and as the crowd of about 100

crammed into a very tiny room on Madison Avenue waited for her arrival,

several suited Irishmen started singing. The first tune went something

like ‘Why are we waiting? Why are we waiting?’ They then broke out into

“American Pie.” Someone (randomly) had a guitar.

Malachy McMcCourt, a Brooklyn-born poet who was raised in Limerick and

ran for governor of New York as a representative of the Green Party,

stood up to tell jokes about his hometown. “I always find that memories

of great tragedies sustain us in times of great joy,” he sad as he began

a hilarious anecdote that involved a drunk man vomiting on himself and a

lost English tourist.

Dearing introduced Clinton, first praising President Clinton. “April 5,

1992, this tall, handsome young governor came to talk to us. And for all

the songs and demonstrations that we in the Irish community had held for

years, it was his commitment that really made a catalytic difference.”

Lots of talk of giving Gerry Adams a visa. “Were it not for the

Clintons, there would be no Good Friday agreement and there would be no

peace in Northern Ireland today.”

Of Sen. Clinton, Dearie said: “You’ve heard stories of well, how much

was she really involved. Well, those of us who were involved know damn

well how much she was involved. She’s always been a friend to the

Irish.”

Clinton arrived and greeted several members of the audience, hugging a

few. “Great to see you,” she said. She gave a brief introduction, saying

she would reinstate St. Patrick’s Day parties at the White House (“Those

were the best parties in the entire eight years,” she said) and then

launched into answers to questions that the forum had given her in

advance. The questions included:

Q: Would you appoint a peace-keeping special envoy to Northern Ireland

as president?

Clinton: “I will…We have come so far we now need to deal with the

remaining issues on the table. That’s why it’s important to have a

special envoy that reports directly to me rather than having to go up

and down the chain of command,” she said, jokingly adding: “Those who

wish to apply please do so.”

Q: Immigration policy

Clinton: standard speech about a need for “comprehensive immigration

reform” for the roughly 50,000 illegal Irish immigrants living in the US

Q: Would she visit Ireland during her first year in office?

Clinton: “Hmm, what a hardship that would be,” she joked. “I am always

looking for reasons to go back…Presidential visits are a special part

of reinforcing that bond.”

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