Clinton-Obama flap shifts race to negative tone
By Steve Holland1 hour, 7 minutes ago
In a flap that has shifted the Democratic 2008 presidential race to a more negative tone, Hillary Clinton is pitting her experience against Barack Obama's desire for fundamental change.
Neither side was backing down from a dispute that erupted at a debate on Monday and turned nastier as the week went on, wrapping up with bitter exchanges between top Clinton strategist Howard Wolfson and his Obama counterpart, David Axelrod.
Clinton considers the first-term senator from Illinois naive for saying he would be willing to meet leaders of hostile nations like Iran and Cuba, while Obama thinks Clinton is sticking to the foreign policy
status quo of the much-criticized Bush administration.
The Obama camp, looking for an opening to use the feud to cut into Clinton's lead in the polls, put up an advertisement on news sites in the early U.S. voting states of Iowa and New Hampshire.
The ad criticizes the New York senator and former first lady for her initial vote in support of the Iraq war and asks the question, "Ready for a New Direction?"
"It's time to abandon the short-sighted, naive idea that we punish our enemies by not talking to them. It's time to let go of the thinking that got us into Iraq without a plan in the first place," the ad said.
The Clinton camp placed comments from her and Obama on her web site, HillaryHub.com, and provided a link to an opinion article written by conservative Charles Krauthammer
that described "how the grizzled veteran showed up the clueless rookie."
Former Sen. John Edwards
, in third place in the polls behind Clinton and Obama to become the Democratic nominee in the November 2008 election, inserted himself into the conflict and tried to take the high road.
"If you're looking for what's wrong in Washington, why the system is broken, one perfect example is what's been happening over the last four days. We've had two good people, Democratic candidates for president, who've spent their time attacking each other instead of attacking the problems facing our country," Edwards, the party's 2004 vice presidential candidate, told an Urban League annual conference in St. Louis.
Aides said Edwards' position on meeting leaders of hostile nations was similar to that of Clinton -- that any presidential meeting with the leader of a troublesome nation would have to be preceded by lower-level diplomatic contact to ensure it would be productive and not misused for propaganda purposes.
Another Democratic candidate, Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd, called the conflict "just another personal argument among politicians, and that's lamentable given the stakes in this election."
And still another candidate, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, who has done his share of international diplomacy as a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said he did not see what all the fuss was about.
"You know, I've actually met a lot of these guys already -- I've met (Cuban leader Fidel) Castro, I've met (Venezuelan President Hugo) Chavez," he told The Washington Post.
A front-runner in U.S. politics does not generally benefit from engaging a trailing opponent, but in this case, the Clinton campaign is wary of Obama's fund-raising -- he has raised more than her -- and is eager to try to pin the inexperienced label on him.
The Obama camp believes the dispute demonstrated "a real choice" for Democratic voters and showed the Illinois senator represents "dramatic change" from conventional thinking. Democratic strategist Chris Lehane said both sides got out of it what they wanted.
But he said he believed Clinton came out the winner. Obama's attack on Clinton as "Bush-Cheney lite" undermined his message that his campaign represents politics of hope over negativity -- "the exact elements that made him interesting in the first place," said Lehane.
I can't believe she is quoting Krauthammer, one of the biggest neocons ever. She truly is republican lite. Keep kicking ass Barack!!!