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In Nevada, Obama Tries Tough New Tack


A mailer sent to Nevada voters by the Barack Obama campaign defends his choice record.

By Shailagh Murray
RENO, Nev. -- Sen. Barack Obama has added some tough new lines to his campaign speech that call into question Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's candor and authenticity, while adding a dash of humor to disguise the sting.

For weeks, as the two battled through Iowa and New Hampshire, Obama's style was to ignore or shrug off Clinton's efforts to discredit him on big Democratic concerns like the Iraq war, abortion rights and Social Security reform. But the low-key approach may have cost Obama votes in New Hampshire, and he has made clear adjustments in recent days to assure that no charge slips through the cracks.

Today he rebutted Clinton point by point and suggested that she was playing loose with the facts by raising questions about Obama's positions on Social Security and Yucca Mountain, a proposed nuclear waste dump that Nevada residents strongly oppose. "When Senator Clinton implied that I'm for Yucca when I've never been for it, that's a problem. That erodes people's confidence in our politics," Obama said.

Obama ridiculed the answer she gave during the Democratic debate in Las Vegas on Tuesday night about a 2001 Senate bankruptcy bill that was backed by credit-card companies but strongly opposed by consumer groups. Clinton said she was glad the legislation never became law.

"Think about that," said Obama. "She voted for it even though she hoped it wouldn't pass." The crowd laughed. He added that she had been slower than he had been to embrace temporary tax relief as part of a stimulus package.

"Senator Clinton has said she is ready to lead from day one. But it's important on day one to get it right, whether you're talking about war or you're talking about economic proposals," he said.

The crowd favorite in the speech was Obama's reenactment of how Clinton and former senator John Edwards responded during the Tuesday debate to a question about their biggest weakness. Obama, who answered first, confessed that he was disorganized. "And senator Edwards says, I'm just so passionate about poor people. And helping them. And then Hillary says, my biggest weakness is I'm so impatient about bringing about real change to America."

Obama, looking pleased with himself, added some more: "This is what I mean. This is political speak. This is what you learn in Washington, from all those years of experience."

By Web Politics Editor  |  January 18, 2008; 4:14 PM ET
 
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