George Bush smooths path for Hillary

BUSH administration officials are paving the way for a smooth transition to a possible Democratic presidency as Hillary Clinton consolidates her position as the overwhelming favourite to win her party’s nomination for the 2008 election.

Clinton has powered her way to the top of the Democratic pack, establishing a 33-point lead in one poll last week over Barack Obama, her nearest rival.

She raised $7m more than Obama in the last quarter and attracted more individual contri-butors than the Illinois senator, proving her popularity with grassroots Democrats.

With Clinton looking the near-inevitable nominee, Bush officials intend to hold her to her promise to be tough on defence and national security. Robert Gates, the defence secretary, is hoping to establish a bipartisan consensus on defence that will last beyond next year’s election.

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