Hillary, Obama Debate the Fear Card

Posted: Jan 16, 2008 9:38 AM
Hillary, Obama Debate the Fear Card

Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton called truce over the “race card” and the “gender card,” but the new “fear card” was introduced last night at the Las Vegas Democratic presidential debate.

Obama said, “We’ve been dominated by a politics of fear since 9/11… But I have to say that when Senator Clinton uses the specter of a terrorist attack…during a campaign, I think that is part and parcel with what we've seen the use of the fear of terrorism in scoring political points.”

The Illinois senator’s remarks were prompted by a question that NBC moderator Tim Russert, asked Clinton. Russert reminded Clinton that “in 2006, you railed against Karl Rove and the Republicans for playing what you called the fear card.” Russert then noted Clinton has “on the eve of the New Hampshire primary, you said this: ‘I don't think it was by accident that al Qaeda decided to test the new prime minister, Gordon Brown, immediately. They watch our elections as closely as we do, maybe more than some of our fellow citizens do. They play our, you know, allies. They do everything they can to undermine security in the world. So let's not forget you're hiring a president, not just to do what a candidate says he or she wants to do in an election.’”

Clinton said “there’s a difference between what President Bush had done, which has, frankly, used fear as a political weapon and a recognition, in a very calm and deliberative way, that, yes, we have real enemies and we'd better be prepared and we'd better be ready to meet them on day one.”

In the run-up to the South Carolina Democratic primary, former President Bill Clinton has made headlines crediting the media’s inattention to Obama’s record on Iraq for his “fairy tale” political rise.

Senator Clinton added to the fray when she criticized Obama for invoking Martin Luther King on the campaign trail. Then, Black Entertainment Television Founder Robert Johnson rushed to the Clinton’s defense and made an unsubtle reference to the drug use Obama admitted to in his autobiography.

Shortly before the Las Vegas debate Clinton and Obama declared a public truce on these issues. The first question of the debate was on this topic. Moderator Brian Williams asked Clinton to explain, “How did we get here?”

Clinton said “Well, I think that what’s most important is that Senator Obama and I agree completely that, you know, neither ace nor gender should be part of this campaign.”