Obama Takes On the Billary Machine

Posted: Jan 21, 2008 9:55 PM
Obama Takes On the Billary Machine

Barack Obama made good on his promise to challenge Mr. and Mrs. Clinton over their statements about his record in the South Carolina Democratic debate Tuesday evening.

Obama also prompted a few nasty retorts from Sen. Clinton at the Myrtle Beach event hosted by CNN and the Congressional Black Caucus Institute in preparation for the Palmetto State primary on January 26.

In a televised interview that aired Monday morning on ABC Obama said he would “directly confront Bill Clinton when he’s not making statements that are factually accurate” and expressed frustration with the way the Clinton campaign was behaving.

A long argument over fiscal responsibility, the war in Iraq, legal work and even Ronald Reagan began in Myrtle Beach when Clinton accused Obama of not “paying” for the programs he would like to enact. Obama leveraged the charge into a larger conversation about they way the Clintons have characterized his record.

“This is one of the things that has happened in the course of this campaign. There are a set of assertions made by Sen. Clinton as well as her husband that are not factually accurate," Obama said.

In recent weeks, Former President Bill Clinton has openly criticized Obama’s opposition to the Iraq war, calling it a “fairy tale” that national media would not press him as hard as they did his wife for voting to fund it in the past. Hillary Clinton also caused controversy when she questioned Obama’s decision to invoke Martin Luther King on the campaign trail

The Clintons and Obama had declared a short-lived “truce” but that was broken when Mr. Clinton took issue with a statement Obama made about former Republican President Ronald Reagan. While campaigning in Nevada last week, Obama said “Reagan changed the trajectory of America in a way that Richard Nixon did not and in a way that Bill Clinton did not. He put us on a fundamentally different path because the country was ready for it."

The former President addressed Obama’s assessment at a rally in Buffalo, New York Sunday evening. “[Obama] said President Reagan was the engine of innovation and did more, had a more lasting impact on America than I did. And then the next day he said, 'In the 90s the good ideas came out from the Republicans,” Clinton said. “Which it'll be costly maybe down the road for him because it's factually not accurate.”

When Obama tried to address some of the things Mr. Clinton had said, Mrs. Clinton told Obama, “Well, he’s not here.”

Obama shot back, “Well, I can’t tell who I am running against sometimes.”

Their spat intensified when Obama mentioned he was “working on those streets, watching those folks see their jobs shift overseas,” while Reagan was President. Obama said at that time Clinton was “a corporate lawyer sitting on the board at Wal-Mart.” (As the first lady of Arkansas, Clinton was a board member of the Arkansas-based retailer for six years.)

Clinton retaliated by saying Reagan’s ideas were “bad for America, and I was fighting against those ideas when you were practicing law and representing your contributor, Rezko, in his slum landlord business in inner-city Chicago.”

Clinton was referring to Tony Rezko, a longtime Democratic supporter and Chicago landlord who faces federal corruption charges. Obama had accepted campaign donations from Rezko, but later donated them to charity.

At the debate, Obama said he did “About five hours of work” for Rezko.