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Clinton Says Obama Playing Racial Politics

By Zachary A. Goldfarb, The Talk
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton accused Sen. Barack Obama's presidential campaign of fanning the flames of racial politics and said that he has not yet been held to account for his record on the war in Iraq.

Several prominent African Americans have voiced concern about statements by Clinton and her husband, former president Bill Clinton, the day before the New Hampshire primary.

Sen. Clinton (N.Y.) said in a sometimes testy appearance on NBC's "Meet the Press," that the controversy is an "unfortunate story line that the Obama campaign has pushed very successfully."

Clinton had appeared to some to demean the leadership of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. during the civil rights era when she told Fox News last Monday, "Dr. King's dream began to be realized when President Lyndon Johnson passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964. ... [I]t took a president to get it done."

And former president Clinton said at Dartmouth College the same day about Obama, "This whole thing is the biggest fairy tale I've ever seen." After some complained, Clinton said that he was referring only to Obama's Iraq record and not his candidacy.

The Clintons moved Friday to soothe ruffled feathers but, when asked Sunday about the Monday comments, Clinton pointed blame at Obama's campaign. "They've been putting out talking points. They've been telling this in a very selective way," Clinton said. "I'm glad to have the opportunity to set the facts straight."

"Dr. King didn't just give speeches," Clinton said. He understood "he had to move the political process and bring in those who were in political power. ... He wanted somebody in the White House who would act," she said.

Clinton said her husband's comments focused on the story line of Obama's campaign -- a speech he gave in 2002, as a state senator in Illinois, in which he opposed the war in Iraq. "He gave a very impassioned speech against it and consistently said that he was against the war, he would vote against the funding for the war," she said. "By 2003, that speech was off his Web site. By 2004, he was saying that he didn't really disagree with the way George Bush was conducting the war. And by 2005, 6, and 7, he was voting for $300 billion in funding for the war. The story of his campaign is really the story of that speech and his opposition to Iraq. I think it is fair to ask questions about it."

"How do you translate your words into deeds?" she added later. "I think it is fair to point out that he has no record of actually producing positive change."

Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), the 2004 nominee who endorsed Obama last week, said Obama has the necessary qualities to "inspire and to be a president."

Kerry defended Obama's youth and relative inexperience, saying on ABC's "This Week," "He's older than Bill Clinton when Bill Clinton became president."

Clinton would not say whether she feels Obama has the experience to be president.

"That is up for voters to decide," she said.

Clinton also addressed her emotional display the day before the New Hampshire primary, in which her eyes appeared to well with tears and her voice broke as she described how she copes with the stresses of the campaign. Critics thought it was staged; some thought that it handed her the primary.

"It was a moment of real emotional connection," Clinton said. She said politicians are "also human beings."

Clinton said that she did not consider the troop surge to be anything more than a narrow military success and that, as president, she still planned to ask her generals to withdraw troops with 60 days.

"Part of the reason that Iraqis are doing anything is they see this election," she said. "They know that the blank check that George Bush gave them is about to be torn up."

Clinton said she has no idea whether the "vast right-wing conspiracy" she once accused of trying to destroy her husband's presidency still exists. And when asked what her biggest public adversity has ever been, she responded, "I think we all know that."

Edwards 'Running Hard' in South Carolina

John Edwards, Kerry's running mate in the 2004 election, said he didn't hear from Kerry before the Obama endorsement but was not surprised by it.

Edwards, on CNN's "Late Edition," reiterated his pledge to continue his campaign "through the convention."

"Are we running hard in South Carolina? Yes, we are running very hard here. I mean, this is the place that I was born. It is a place where I expect to do well," Edwards said. "And it is a place where I understand what is happening in people's lives in a very personal way."

Romney, Giuliani Confident of Upcoming Victories

Former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney both said they expected to win upcoming Republican primaries in critical states for them. Giuliani has staked much of his campaign on a win in Florida on Jan. 29, while Romney faces a big test on Tuesday in Michigan, where his father was governor.

Romney said he would be more confident of winning if only Republicans and independents could vote in the primary. "There will be Democrats that come in the race. Maybe some of them will vote for me, because they will remember what my dad did for Michigan and how he helped turn it around," he said.

Asked if he had to win in Florida, Giuliani replied on "Fox News Sunday," "I don't think any candidate would ever say 'have to,' " but if you want me to say it's real important ... it's real important."

Giuliani was quizzed about his position on illegal immigration: Millions of immigrants who now are illegally in the United States but have not committed a crime here would not have to leave the country before becoming citizens.

"They would have to get on the back of the line. They couldn't get ahead of anyone else. They would have to pay fines. And then at the end of the road, anyone on any of these lists would have to be able to read English, write English, speak English. There would be substantial things that had to be done," Giuliani said, and he dismissed the label "amnesty." "Amnesty is being free and clear of all penalties of any kind," Giuliani said.

Romney and former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee clashed over their economic records, appearing on CBS's "Face the Nation" and CNN's "Late Edition." Huckabee portrayed Romney as an out-of-touch businessman, and Romney accused Huckabee of being a tax-hiker.

Romney said Huckabee raised taxes by $500 million as governor and called his resistance to admit that he raised taxes "disingenuous."

Huckabee said it's "almost sad to watch him make these kind of claims. He raised over half a billion dollars of fees in his own state. And he says, well, those aren't taxes."

"I hate to say poor Mitt, because a man with that much wealth is hardly poor anything," he added.

Huckabee ripped Romney's background as someone who oversaw leveraged buyouts.

"There are a lot of people who lost their jobs when his company would take over, restructure a company, lay a lot of people off. A lot of times, the CEOs and the people at the top got some pretty huge bonuses and made a lot of money. A lot of people went home without a pension and a paycheck," Huckabee said.

Romney suggested that criticism sounded to him like demagoguery.

"It has been said for a long time, you don't help the wage-earner by attacking the wage-payer. And this kind of divisive, populist approach is like he is channeling John Edwards," Romney said.

By Post Editor  |  January 13, 2008; 2:09 PM ET
Categories:  Barack Obama , Hillary Rodham Clinton , John Edwards , Mike Huckabee , Mitt Romney , Rudy Giuliani , Sunday Talkies  
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