The US arms industry is backing Hillary Clinton for President and has
all but abandoned its traditional allies in the Republican party. Mrs
Clinton has also emerged as Wall Street's favourite. Investment
bankers have opened their wallets in unprecedented numbers for the New
York senator over the past three months and, in the process, dumped
their earlier favourite, Barack Obama.1019 02
Mrs Clinton's wooing of the defence industry is all the more
remarkable given the frosty relations between Bill Clinton and the
military during his presidency. An analysis of campaign contributions
shows senior defence industry employees are pouring money into her war
chest in the belief that their generosity will be repaid many times
over with future defence contracts.
Employees of the top five US arms manufacturers - Lockheed Martin,
Boeing, Northrop-Grumman, General Dynamics and Raytheon - gave
Democratic presidential candidates $103,900, with only $86,800 going
to the Republicans. "The contributions clearly suggest the arms
industry has reached the conclusion that Democratic prospects for 2008
are very good indeed," said Thomas Edsall, an academic at Columbia
University in New York.
Republican administrations are by tradition much stronger supporters
of US armaments programmes and Pentagon spending plans than Democratic
governments. Relations between the arms industry and Bill Clinton
soured when he slimmed down the military after the end of the Cold
War. His wife, however, has been careful not to make the same
After her election to the Senate, she became the first New York
senator on the armed services committee, where she revealed her
hawkish tendencies by supporting the invasion of Iraq. Although she
now favours a withdrawal of US troops, her position on Iran is among
the most warlike of all the candidates - Democrat or Republican.
This week, she said that, if elected president, she would not rule out
military strikes to destroy Tehran's nuclear weapons facilities.
While on the armed services committee, Mrs Clinton has befriended key
generals and has won the endorsement of General Wesley Clarke, who ran
Nato's war in Kosovo. A former presidential candidate himself, he is
spoken of as a potential vice-presidential running mate.
Mrs Clinton has been a regular visitor to Iraq and Afghanistan and is
careful to focus her criticisms of the Iraq war on President Bush,
rather than the military. The arms industry has duly taken note.
So far, Mrs Clinton has received $52,600 in contributions from
individual arms industry employees. That is more than half the sum
given to all Democrats and 60 per cent of the total going to
Republican candidates. Election fundraising laws ban individuals from
donating more than $4,600 but contributions are often "bundled" to
obtain influence over a candidate.
The arms industry has even deserted the biggest supporter of the Iraq
war, Senator John McCain, who is also a member of the armed services
committee and a decorated Vietnam War veteran. He has been only
$19,200. Weapons-makers are equally unimpressed by the former New York
mayor Rudolph Giuliani. Despite a campaign built largely around the
need for an aggressive US military and a determination to stay the
course in Iraq, he is behind Mrs Clinton in the affections of arms
executives. Mr Giuliani may be suffering because of his strong
association with the failed policies of President Bush and the fact he
is he is known as a social liberal.
Mrs Clinton's closest competitor in raising cash from the arms
industry is the former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, who raised
"Arms industry profits are so heavily dependent on government
contracts that companies in this field want to be sure they do not
have hostile relations with the White House," added Mr
The industry's strong support for Mrs Clinton indicates that she is
their firm favourite to win the Democratic nomination in the spring
and the presidential election in November 2008. In the last
presidential race, George Bush raised more than $800,000 - twice the
sum collected by his Democratic rival John Kerry.
Mr Edsall's analysis of the figures reveals that, over the past 10
years, the defence industry has favoured Republicans over Democrats by
a 3-2 margin, making Mrs Clinton's position even more
- 19 Weapons Makers