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Edwards Takes on Clinton's Character

Sen. John Edwards is finding new ways to take the fight to frontrunning Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton. (AP)

Are the gloves finally coming off?

Former Sen. John Edwards has stepped up his criticism of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton this week, aiming it about her character and truthfulness as well as her substantive policies. This represents a marked change for Edwards, who, even though he has been the attack dog among the top-tier candidates, has gone after her mainly on the question of electability (as he is doing again this week, on a four-day electability tour).

Sen. Barack Obama is taking a sharper edge toward Clinton -- and her husband -- as well.

Appearing on the Tonight Show on Wednesday night, Obama joined in mocking Clinton for her strategy of presenting herself as the inevitable nominee.

"Hillary is not the first politician in Washington to declare mission accomplished a little too soon," Obama said, to applause. "So we're -- we've got a long way to go before the first vote is cast, but we do this every year, every election. Four years ago, you know, President Howard Dean was coronated, and that didn't work out. And so really until those folks start going into the polling place, these races end up being very fluid."

Leno chimed in with a dig at the character of Clinton's husband, former President Bill Clinton, and his infamous problems with women. Leno asked Obama who would win a debate, the former president, or his wife, Michelle?

"If there's a debate between Michelle and Bill, you know, I'm putting my money on my girl," Obama said.

"You would leave your wife alone with Bill Clinton, would you?" Leno retorted.
"You want to rethink that?"

Edwards, meanwhile, has been pursuing Clinton on the question of her honesty and sincerity. During a stop earlier this week, Edwards criticized Clinton for her seeming fluidity on the issues in order to win. "Instead of moving from primary mode to general election mode, why don't we have tell-the-truth mode, all the time, and not say something different one time than we say another time?" Edwards said.

"We need to be able to trust both a presidential candidate and a president of the United States," Edwards said. His comments came after Clinton voted to authorize labeling the Iranian guard as terrorists, a vote widely interpreted as her effort to start running a general election campaign rather than appealing to members of her own party.

--Anne E. Kornblut

By Post Editor  |  October 18, 2007; 12:03 PM ET
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