"To Bill and Hillary Rodham Clinton, Richard Mellon Scaife qualifies as a charter member of the 'vast right-wing conspiracy,'" the New York Times notes, "having bankrolled an elaborate multimillion-dollar campaign throughout the 1990s to unearth damaging information about the couple."
But in a striking about-face, Mr. Scaife now says he has changed his mind -- at least about one half of the duo.
"I have a very different impression of Hillary Clinton today," he wrote in an opinion article published Sunday, amid her campaign for president. "And it's a very favorable one indeed."
His sudden conversion from fervid Clinton basher to lukewarm Clinton fan occurred after Mrs. Clinton, a Democratic senator from New York, sat down for a 90-minute interview with reporters and editors of The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, a newspaper owned by Mr. Scaife, the billionaire heir to the Mellon banking fortune.
Here's a taste of Scaife's op-ed:
Walking into our conference room, not knowing what to expect (or even, perhaps, expecting the worst), took courage and confidence. Not many politicians have political or personal courage today, so it was refreshing to see her exhibit both.
Sen. Clinton also exhibited an impressive command of many of today's most pressing domestic and international issues. Her answers were thoughtful, well-stated, and often dead-on.
Particularly regarding foreign policy, she identified what we consider to be the most important challenges and dangers that the next president must confront and resolve in order to guarantee our nation's security. Those include an increasingly hostile Russia, an increasingly powerful China and increasing instability in Pakistan and South America.
Like me, she believes we must pull our troops out of Iraq, because it is time for Iraqis to handle their own destiny -- and, more important, because it is past time to end the toll on our soldiers there, to begin rebuilding our military, and to refocus our attention on other threats, starting with Afghanistan.
On domestic policy, Sen. Clinton and I might find more areas on which we disagree. Yet we also agree on others. Asked about the utter failure of federal efforts to rebuild New Orleans since the Katrina disaster, for example, she called it just what it has been -- "not just a national disgrace (but) an international embarrassment."