Clinton Promises No Surprises in Her Past
DES MOINES -- What exactly is Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton suggesting about Barack Obama's past?
Yesterday, Clinton personally apologized to the Illinois senator for a remark made by a campaign official about his long-ago drug use, described by Obama himself in his memoir.
The official, Bill Shaheen, husband to former N.H. Gov. Jeanne Shaheen, suggested that Obama's teenage adventures could make him vulnerable to Republican attacks. An uproar ensued, and Shaheen resigned from his post as co-chair of the Clinton campaign in New Hampshire. The matter seemed put to rest.
Then today Clinton tiptoed back to the subject of Obama's background during a taping of the Iowa public television program "Iowa Press" and at a press conference afterwards.
She again denounced Shaheen's remark: "I made it very clear as soon as I heard about it that I not only disapproved, it did not reflect the campaign I am running. I did personally apologize. The gentleman in question has stepped down from the leadership role in my campaign."
But Clinton noted, by way of contrast, that she herself had been heavily scrutinized. "I've been tested. I've been vetted," Clinton said, according to an account by Mike Glover of the Associated Press, a host of "Iowa Press." "I've been in the political arena in our country for 16 years. There are no surprises."
Clinton later added, "I'm only talking about myself." But the implication was clear enough: She is a known quantity and Obama is a neophyte with little experience in the hot, often unforgiving glare of the national political stage.
Clinton brushed off concerns about the strength of her candidacy in early voting states, including Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina, where Obama has shown momentum in recent polls.
Had she listened to conventional wisdom in the past, Clinton told reporters after the taping, "I wouldn't be standing here. I believe in trusting my instincts and trusting the American people.That's what's gotten me to where I am, that's what I believe in, that's what my campaign is premised on."
But Clinton would not rule out tough tactics as she battles through the final weeks. "With respect to anything negative, I would be happy to enter into an agreement with everyone. But it would have to be an agreement with everyone," Clinton said.
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