Hillary Clinton sweetened up the press on July 4th with a trip to an ice-cream shop in Iowa, as documented in Thursday's story by Patrick Healy in the paper's round-up of the candidates' July 4th excursions across Iowa.
On the trail in Waterloo, IA., candidate Hillary lit into Bush and Cheney, but Healy failed to capture the full flavor of the attacks.
"Maybe it was the ice cream.
"Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton delivered the punchiest performance of her three-day campaign trip during a rally here Wednesday afternoon, marking Independence Day by asking a crowd of thousands, 'Wouldn't you like to be free of George Bush and Dick Cheney?'
"And a few minutes later, she took it up a notch.
"'People voted for George Bush thinking that he was a compassionate conservative,' Mrs. Clinton said. 'It turns out he was neither - and in fact, he is the most radical president we've ever had, breaking faith with all that came before.'
By contrast, Times chief political reporter Adam Nagourney (who wrote the lead-in to Thursday's piece) was a lot more sensitive to much milder political attacks by Bush on Democrats during the 2004 presidential campaign: "With a fierce campaign of attacks led by President Bush, an orchestrated barrage of criticism by Republican elected officials and an imminent sweep of hard-hitting television advertisements, the White House is moving with unusual speed and force to try to discredit John Kerry, the president's likely Democratic challenger."
Healy wrote: "Mrs. Clinton's remarks came shortly after she and her husband made their third pit stop for ice cream in a 30-hour period, this time at the tiny Dairy Treat in Nashua. As little children adorably peeked in the windows, reporters and Secret Service agents crammed around the Clintons at the counter; she ordered a raspberry malt, and he had a strawberry one.
"Mr. Clinton then threw down three 20-dollar bills and proceeded to offer to buy the entire press corps a round of malts. 'I'm not a candidate anymore,' he declared, so there was no conflict of interest in catering to the media's sweet tooth on a hot summer afternoon.
"For the record, The New York Times initially ordered a small vanilla malt - $2.25 - but succumbed to peer pressure after Mrs. Clinton and others joked that vanilla seemed a little, er, vanilla. So a chocolate malt was ordered instead. Editors will be consulted about whether Mr. Clinton must be reimbursed."