Republicans Ramp Up Attacks on Obama's Character
By Jonathan Weisman
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Republicans, seeking a new line of attack against Sen. Barack Obama, have begun to portray him as an arrogant elitist who is letting the hype about his historic candidacy go to his head.
A new advertisement mocks Obama's celebrity. Rep. Jo Ann Emerson (R-Mo.) tried to revive his "bitter" comments about guns and religion in a conference call with reporters sponsored by the Missouri Republican Party today. The GOP leaped on a quote, given to The Post by an attendee of a closed-door meeting of House members, in which Obama said, according to the source, that he had "become a symbol of the possibility of America." And the Republican National Committee has begun handing out quotes from pundits fretting over Obama's alleged hubris.
McCain campaign director Rick Davis called Obama's effort "unlike any other campaign we've seen in modern political history, a campaign that is focused on the development of an enormous image of celebrity status."
Democrats and Obama allies have pushed back just as hard, blasting McCain's negative campaign and blasting The Post for taking the quote out of context.
"Nobody here thinks John McCain has a real new idea about how to solve our country's problems," Obama told an audience here. "All they've been doing for the past two months is blaming me."
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) joined the chorus in denying Obama had displayed any hubris in his meeting with House Democrats Tuesday evening.
The comment "has been construed to imply some arrogance that was totally absent," he told reporters this morning. "Matter of fact, the irony is it was a self-effacing statement in which, talking about his European trip and Middle Eastern trip, which all of us believe was extraordinarily successful, he talked about the 200,000-plus people who came to see him speak or hear him speak in Berlin. And he said, essentially, of course, I do not attribute that 200,000 to me. I attribute it to the fact that they are yearning to see a partnership with the United States, a re-establishment of a close, cooperative relationship."
Democrats who disseminated the initial quote snippet in a written e-mail are now leading the charge arguing that it was taken out of context, although no context was provided in the first place.
But clearly, some Democrats are growing concerned that the incident is being used to underscore existing questions about Obama.
Posted at 3:39 PM ET on Jul 30, 2008
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