When Barack Obama attacked Hillary Clinton, she accused him of “abandoning the politics of hope,” but when she does it her campaign calls it “drawing contrasts.”
Clinton tried to head off any criticisms Obama would make of her in the October 30 Democratic presidential debate by mocking the mocking the title of his autobiography “The Audacity of Hope.” In an October 30 memo, her campaign said “Losing ground in the polls, Senator Obama announced over the weekend that he will abandon the politics of hope and attack Hillary in tonight’s debate… One candidate is defining the ‘politics of hope’ while the others are abandoning them. Want to guess which one?”
Right now, it would be hard to tell. As Clinton loses her once-commanding lead over Obama in Iowa, she increases her attacks on the Illinois senator. She once now trails him by 3 percent according to a Des Moines Register poll released today, 28 percent to 25 percent. John Edwards received 23 percent in that poll, making each of the three candidates within the poll’s margin of error, 4.4 percent, of each other.
Within the last week, Clinton’s campaign has accused Obama of illegally dishing out political action committee money to early primary states, demanded he take down “misleading” television advertisements about Clinton’s healthcare plan and even tried to make an essay Obama wrote in kindergarten a point of contention.
Frank James of the Baltimore Sun was a bit taken aback that Clinton would investigate Obama’s childhood writings. “Good thing he was born before widespread pre-natal ultrasounds,” he joked. “Who knows how they might have used that against him?” Then James predicted this strategy would backfire on Clinton. “The problem for Clinton is that her campaign's attempt to paint Obama as a calculating type who precociously hungered for the presidency runs the risk of reminding voters of some of the very questions they have about her, that she herself has wanted the presidency for decades and has plotted her course with that in mind,” he said.
Compounding the charges of hypocrisy is the fact Clinton has a long history of campaign finance troubles herself. The details surrounding Whitewater, “Asiagate,” the selling of the Lincoln bedroom and other scandals have filled up thousands of book pages. Her campaign was forced to pay a $35,000 fine to the Federal Elections committee for “underreporting” donations in her 2000 Senate election and return almost $1 million in campaign donations solicited by her felon contributions bundler Norman Hsu this year.
The Obama camp is trying to magnify her attacks over the internet and even make some money off them. Obama campaign operates a website called “Hillary Attacks” that asks Obama supporters to submit any negative criticism Clinton makes of Obama and sent an e-mail solicitation on Monday that cited the “cost of negativity” Clinton incurred his campaign.
“These attacks take attention away from solving people’s problems and exact a real cost on our political process,” the appeal said. “We need to respond by increasing the cost of these tactics for her campaign.”
Below is a list of quotes from the Clinton camp that seek to cripple Obama’s candidacy released over the past few days.
“I have for months been on the receiving end of rather insistent attacks—and now the fun part starts. We’re into the last month and we’re going to start drawing a contrast.” –Hillary Clinton in Des Moines Iowa, December 3,
Obama “at least skirted, if not violated, the [Federal Election Commission] rules and used lobbyist money and PAC money to do so.” - Hillary Clinton accusing Obama of campaign finance violations in Cedar Rapids, Iowa on December 3.
“So you decide which makes more sense: entrust our country with someone who is ready on day one to make the decisions and changes we need, or to put America in the hands of someone with little national or international experience who started running for president as soon as he arrived in the United States Senate?”- Hillary criticizing Obama in Clear Lake, Iowa on December 3.
“I do not think people want a lot of talk about change. I think they want someone with a real record—a doer, not a talker. After eight years of incompetence, they don’t want false hope, they want real results” –Hillary criticizing Obama in Clear Lake, Iowa on December 3.
“There’s a lot that voters don’t know about Barack Obama. And one thing they don’t know, we found out this week, is that he has been using and operating a so-called leadership PAC, an apparent contravention of campaign finance laws, taking money from lobbyists despite the fact that he said he doesn’t take money from lobbyists.” –Howard Wolfson, Clinton communication director on CBS’ Face the Nation, December 2.
“In third grade, Senator Obama wrote an essay titled 'I Want To Be a President.' His third grade teacher, Fermina Katarina Sinaga asked her class to write an essay titled 'My dream: What I want to be in the future.' Senator Obama wrote 'I want to be a President,' she said." The Los Angeles Times, 3/15/07- Excerpt from a Clinton press release, December 2.
“In kindergarten, Senator Obama wrote an essay titled 'I Want to Become President.’ "Iis Darmawan, 63, Senator Obama's kindergarten teacher, remembers him as an exceptionally tall and curly haired child who quickly picked up the local language and had sharp math skills. He wrote an essay titled, 'I Want To Become President,' the teacher said." AP, 1/25/07 – Except from a Clinton press release, December 2.
“This ad is demonstrably false and should be taken off the air. The claim that his plan covers everyone not only contradicts the judgment of healthcare and economy experts, including Paul Krugman in today’s New York Times, but public statements by Sen. Obama himself.” – Patti Solis Doyle, Clinton campaign manager in a conference call with reporters on December 1.
“On an issue of this magnitude [universal healthcare] Americans are looking for more than a nice ad or a good speech. It’s not enough for Senator Obama to say he covers everyone, especially when that is inaccurate. The American people need a President who will take the action necessary and fight for health care for every single man woman and child. Until the time comes when Senator Obama has a plan that will cover everyone, you should stop running this false advertisement. The American people deserve an honest debate about health care.” –An excerpt of a public letter Patti Solis Doyle, Clinton campaign manager, wrote to David Axelrod, Obama’s campaign manager on December 1.