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Clinton, Obama and the Silly Season

DES MOINES--As Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton goes on the attack against Sen. Barack Obama, trying to blunt his surge in Iowa and New Hampshire polls, her campaign is attempting to open a second front by accusing Team Obama of playing unfairly.

The Clinton campaign e-mailed supporters in Iowa and New Hampshire a message from campaign manager Patti Solis Doyle with the subject line, "The dirty tricks are starting." It offered a handful of allegations that Obama staffers in the two states were less than polite and quoted one Iowan talking about an alleged anti-Clinton push poll, origins unknown.

Solis Doyle said the campaign wants to know more.

"These reports are invaluable to our campaign!" Doyle wrote in the Monday night e-mail to an Iowa supporter. "It is vitally important that we know about any unethical tactics our opponents may use! And as one of our best supporters in Iowa, you are in the best position to keep us informed."

Obama spokesman Bill Burton was less than pleased.

"This flat-out falsehood is the latest attack in a silly season where our opponents have promised to stop at nothing in an effort to tarnish Barack Obama's character," Burton wrote in an e-mail.

"Push-polling or tactics of confusion have no place in this campaign and we don't or won't engage in them. Unlike some other campaigns, we want every potential Iowa caucus-goer to participate in the process, no matter who they support."

After Clinton shifted to the attack, Obama and campaign manager David Plouffe teamed on a Monday e-mail of their own. They urged followers to contribute $25 "and show our opponents that this kind of negativity will only make us stronger in our determination to bring about the change America needs."

"I'll respond to each of the Clinton campaign's desperate attacks directly and honestly," Obama wrote. "But when I respond to each attack, I want to be able to say that I am not alone. I want to be able to say that 10,000 people responded with me in the first 48 hours."

The tone of the Democratic side of the Iowa campaign shifted dramatically and unexpectedly after the Clinton campaign received news that her poll numbers are more shaky than her campaign expected.

Although she remains in a statistical dead heat with Obama, with John Edwards just a few points behind, a Des Moines Register poll also suggests that her support among women -- an essential constituency for her -- has fallen sharply and Obama's has risen.

At Iowa events since the weekend, Clinton has accused Obama of what she considers to be character flaws. She addressed his record in the Illinois legislature and positions he has taken during the campaign. But the example that has drawn the most attention, sometimes accompanied by head-shaking smiles, is the Clinton campaign's assertion that Obama is rewriting the history of his Oval Office ambitions.

He always wanted to be president, the Clinton camp contends. As one piece of evidence, they cite an AP report from Obama's kindergarten teacher saying he wrote an essay titled, "I Want to Become President."

The Solis Doyle e-mail focuses on what she describes as bad behavior of Clinton opponents in Iowa and New Hampshire, some of them allegedly Obama staffers or volunteers.

"In Iowa, we have heard reports that Hillary supporters are getting calls that tell them incorrect caucus locations," Solis Doyle wrote. "Supporters have also told us about push polls -- when they tell the pollster they support Hillary, they are given negative talking points about her and asked which attacks are the most effective.

"In both Iowa and New Hampshire," she continued, "we have heard that Obama staffers are berating Hillary supporters on the phone with negative attacks against her."

When Obama and Plouffe asked for contributions in their e-mail, Plouffe cast the appeal as a way of "increasing the cost of these tactics for her campaign. You can make them think twice about continuing these attacks."

The Obama donation drive is called "cost of negativity."

With 30 days to go until Iowa's first in the nation caucus, the costs of all sorts of campaign tactics are only starting to be reckoned.

--Peter Slevin


By Washington Post editors  |  December 4, 2007; 3:15 PM ET
 
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Comments

i thunk that by playing these "dirty tricks" Hilary is just going to make her supporters think twice about her. it is just pathetic how is trying to do this with Obama1 who cares if he always wanted to be president, wouldnt that be a good thing? Clinton will loose all her supporters and bring the democrats down.

Posted by: killercello | December 5, 2007 11:04 PM | Report abuse

The Obama Campaign had over 10,000 donations in less than 24 hours, thanks to Hillary's tactics. Now the latest news is that Clinton campaign staffers have been caught spreading the worst of lies about Obama, repeating and spreading false rumours about him being a muslim mole (he is a Christian) This was reported by a Dodd supporter who was contacted by the Clinton staffer. Hillary will self destruct before January.

Posted by: katharinestavrinou | December 5, 2007 3:36 PM | Report abuse

This just shows how desperate the hilary campaign is becoming. Shame on you Hilary!!!

My vote is for Barack Obama and you will not cheat me of it!, get that, okay?

Posted by: nkgilb | December 5, 2007 2:34 PM | Report abuse

Since when do kindergarten teachers have their children write essays? In a child's academic career, they are not expected to write a one-paragraph essay until end G2 or G3. Instead of an essay about his future ambitions, I would imagine that a kindergarten-aged Obama would be more focused on "Run Spot Run. See Spot Run."

Posted by: delafleur | December 4, 2007 11:26 PM | Report abuse

This strategy of hers will most likely fail, and in fact backfire on her. I think it is just making her look worse. She should focus on the issues that the Americans want to hear about.

Posted by: kiwircwb | December 4, 2007 11:18 PM | Report abuse

Can someone with integrity close to Clinton (there has to be someone) point out to her that this strategy is backfiring horribly and she is not going to gain new support and actually might start losing some of her supporters.

Obama may not have the experience of Biden. But he is a man of remarkable integrity and his campaign is clearly not engaging in dirty politics. Clinton is here defining dirty politics by making heresay accusations.

I have heard that it is Clinton's campaign that is calling its own supporters, identifying themselves as Obama supporters and then being rude. Prove me wrong.

Posted by: DanFromTX | December 4, 2007 10:14 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: jade7243 | December 4, 2007 07:21 PM

Seeing as how this is the internet and all, don't you think you ought to provide links?

You know, to either the "open acknowledgment" or the video with the seriousness. I'd be interested to read/watch them. Thanks.

Posted by: zukermand | December 4, 2007 10:12 PM | Report abuse

Does anyone who can read really think that it will really matter who gets elected? If the past 30 years is indicative of the future then we will all continue to slowly decay as a country. Too many issues. We need a real leader who can cut through the red tape like a hot knife through butter. We need our country back. Quit putting the tax burden on the working American. What about all the people earning cash not paying taxes, what about the illegals? WE the voters need to make our demands and when the politicians try to distract us with man made problems, get them back on focused on the real problems. Please Good people of America, let's work together. skyhighgas.com has some issues, and thank you.

Posted by: dboyle52 | December 4, 2007 10:05 PM | Report abuse

Does anyone who can read really think that it will really matter who gets elected? If the past 30 years is indicative of the future then we will all continue to slowly decay as a country. Too many issues. We need a real leader who can cut through the red tape like a hot knife through butter. We need our country back. Quit putting the tax burden on the working American. What about all the people earning cash not paying taxes, what about the illegals? WE the voters need to make our demands and when the politicians try to distract us with man made problems, get them back on focused on the real problems. Please Good people of America, let's work together. Skyhighgas.com has some issues, and thank you

Posted by: dboyle52 | December 4, 2007 10:01 PM | Report abuse

NEWS FLASH!

Just in over the wires: Allen Keyes is now the Chief strategist for the Clinton Campaign!........stay tuned.

Posted by: JimmieFromDayton | December 4, 2007 9:01 PM | Report abuse

Hilary - at JJ dinner "Turn up the heat"
Obama - advice taken...
Hilary- "they are attacking me because I am in the lead"
Obama-well, advice taken,
Thanks Hilary, we can always count on your calculated experience

Posted by: FebM | December 4, 2007 8:11 PM | Report abuse

And by the way... the Clinton co-presidency... or "I'll be president first then you can run, Hillary," has been out in the open and acknowledged by the Clintons since 1992.

Unfortunately, zukermand must not have access to any of the video showing Sen. Clinton reading her "kinder-gate" attack on Obama in the most deadly serious tone. It wasn't meant as a joke. It just blew up in Team Hillary's faces. Now watch as they wipe the soot from their eyes during the long free-fall to the bottom of the canyon. BLINK BLINK. UH-OH.....pwoof!

MEEP MEEP! OBAMA '08!!

Posted by: jade7243 | December 4, 2007 7:21 PM | Report abuse

As long as Obama stays above the fray and disarms these things with humor where possible, he wins.

Hillary comes off as her typical b-witchy self: shrill and self-righteous. I wonder if she has a magic "mirror mirror on the wall, who's been anointed to President this time next fall?"

"Why you, Hillary... president of the student council! Maybe even president of Wellesly College one day."

"But I thought I was going to be POTUS?"

"No. Sorry, I promised that to Bill after we didn't have sexual relations with each other."

Posted by: jade7243 | December 4, 2007 7:09 PM | Report abuse

"The tone of the Democratic side of the Iowa campaign shifted dramatically and unexpectedly after the Clinton campaign received news that her poll numbers are more shaky than her campaign expected."

Slick, Mr Slevin. Lots of "expectations" there. I wonder whose.

" But the example that has drawn the most attention, sometimes accompanied by head-shaking smiles, is the Clinton campaign's assertion that Obama is rewriting the history of his Oval Office ambitions.

He always wanted to be president, the Clinton camp contends. As one piece of evidence, they cite an AP report from Obama's kindergarten teacher saying he wrote an essay titled, "I Want to Become President." "

Sadly, if one relies on Mr Slevin's "reporting", one might not know Mr Obama has spent the last month regularly hitting Sen Clinton with Jeff Gerth's unreliable "20 year plan" smear, one would have to read a real newspaper (http://weblogs.baltimoresun.com/news/politics/blog/2007/11/obama_on_the_clinton_secret_pa.html) to be given that context. One would also not realize the kindergarten and grade school citations were obvious jokes, mostly aimed at mocking the petty, vindictive Heathers like Mr Slevin who think it's just too cute F'ing with my country.

This newspaper is a disgusting piece of trash and you, Mr Slevin, should be ashamed of yourself.

Posted by: zukermand | December 4, 2007 5:07 PM | Report abuse

I guess after Hsu got it once again, this time from the U.S. Attorney in NYC, Clinton's campaign had to come up with something, so "send in the clowns".

Seriously, if this whole series of charges weren't so bogus, it might be funny. We're now seeing "Why is everybody always picking on me?" or the "Hillary Whine".

Perhaps Penn, Wolfson and the other "hired help" would like to explain just why, when Iran has no nuclear weapons program in the works, she alone amongst the Democratic candidates voted to give Bush a ticket for yet another foreign disaster.

If this is "experience", it's Rumsfeld, Cheney and the Bush administration all over again. Again, ridiculous and desparate as the poll numbers sink.

Posted by: NoMugwump | December 4, 2007 4:53 PM | Report abuse

Peter Slavin reports

'"In both Iowa and New Hampshire," [Solis Doyle] continued, "we have heard that Obama staffers are berating Hillary supporters on the phone with negative attacks against her."'

How curious it is that the Clinton campaign has so swiftly changed their tactic from one of decrying mud-slinging to slinging some mud of their own based solely on speculation and innuendo. It is mind-boggling that they would send email to supporters containing allegations that 'they've heard'. Some would call it slander (or would it be libel?).

We can do better.

Posted by: bsimon | December 4, 2007 4:32 PM | Report abuse

Clinton seems intent on pulling a Gephardt/Dean. Hopefully her dirty tactics will not sully Obama, because that'd be unfair

Posted by: gobanana910 | December 4, 2007 4:13 PM | Report abuse

CLINTON WILL SINK THE DEMOCRATS
.
It is possible that Senator Clinton is the best candidate. However, even though many may like the policies that Senator Clinton proposes, they should also consider her record, just as Senator Clinton insists.
.
The last Clinton Administration, when faced with the fact that protection rackets where assaulting, torturing and murdering people with poison and radiation, chose to avoid its responsibilities to incarcerate the criminals and to protect the citizenry.
.
Instead, they made a deal with the criminal gang stalker protection rackets to leave them alone and to consequently abandon the citizenry.
.
Do we want a President who sells out the citizenry for votes?
.
Do we want a President who sends a "crime does pay" message to society?
.
Would you vote for a President who signed nonaggression deals with the KKKlan or the Nazi party? Gangs that torture with poison and radiation are much like the KKKlan and Nazi Party.
.
We do not need a sellout President. We need a principled leader President.
.
If you are one of the few who do not know what the above refers to, do a web search for "gang stalking" to see the tip of the dirtberg. Please do it before you decide to reply to my post. Here let me make it easy for you: http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=%22gang+stalking%22.
.

Posted by: avraamjack | December 4, 2007 3:40 PM | Report abuse

The Sharks are in a FRENZY!!!

More Chum! MORE!!!!

LOL! Clinton Huh?

Sure?

How did Bill BlytheIV, become Clinton?

Billary BlytheIV for President!

LOL!!!

Inquiring minds want to know?!!

More Chum!!!!

Posted by: rat-the | December 4, 2007 3:35 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Slevin, I would like to thank you for being probably the first reporter to present the Clinton camp claims with an appropriate dose of scepticism rather than just reprinting the talking points of each campaign.

Posted by: roo_P | December 4, 2007 3:33 PM | Report abuse

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