PORTSMOUTH, N.H. (AP) — Hillary Clinton's campaign for president criticized rival Bernie Sanders on Thursday for what it argues are misleading campaign advertisements that suggest the Vermont senator received the endorsement of two newspapers that have not backed his bid for the White House.
"It's not clear if Sen. Sanders himself is aware of all these incidents or would endorse this kind of conduct," Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook told The Associated Press on Thursday.
"But he and his campaign are ostensibly premised on the notion that he is not a typical politician, doesn't have a super PAC and always tells the truth," Mook said. "They very clearly aren't living up to those standards."
The critique came just hours before the two candidates were to meet for their first one-on-one debate and a few days before next Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, a state where Sanders has a sizable lead in preference polls.
As voting started and the race between the two tightened, both candidates escalated their attacks and upended the previously civil tone of the contest. The latest spat involved television ads Sanders is running that quote a pair of newspapers in Iowa and New Hampshire.
"The Des Moines Register calls him 'a man of courage and principle,'" says the narrator in the Iowa spot. While the newspaper praised Sanders in an editorial, it backed Clinton.
A separate ad in New Hampshire was revised after it stated that Sanders was endorsed by the Valley News in West Lebanon, New Hampshire. A narrator in the retooled spot now says: "The Valley News says, 'Sanders has been genuinely outraged about the treatment of ordinary Americans for as long as we can remember.'"
The ad also shows a quote from the Nashua Daily Telegraph — "He is not beholden to Wall Street money." The editor of that paper denounced the spot as "deceptive" in a tweet on Wednesday.
"For the record, despite @BernieSanders deceptive ad to the contrary, @NashuaTelegraph has not endorsed any Dem prez candidate," wrote Roger Carroll on Twitter.
Sanders denied the ads were misleading and said he never claimed to get endorsements he did not receive.
"These are the actual words that those newspapers said. Somebody says something nice about you, you say it," Sanders told reporters at a Wednesday news conference. "We never said we got the endorsement."
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