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Obama Slams Clinton's 'Meet' Appearance

Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.) dismissed an appearance made by Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) on "Meet the Press" this morning as "political point scoring," condemning his main rival for the Democratic presidential nomination for seeking to recast the events of the last several years.

"What we saw this morning was why the American people are tired of Washington politicians and the games they play," said Obama in a conference call announcing the endorsement of Sen. Claire McCaskill (Mo.) "[Clinton] started this campaign saying that she wanted to make history and lately she has been spending some time rewriting it."

On the recent controversy regarding remarks Clinton made about Martin Luther King Jr.'s role in the civil rights movement, Obama called the comments "unfortunate" and blasted Clinton for accusing his campaign of distorting her words for political gain. "The notion that this is somehow our doing is ludicrous," he said.

The raised rhetoric from Obama came in the immediate aftermath of Clinton's appearance on NBC's "Meet the Press" -- an appearance in which she sought to drive home the idea that the Illinois senator is all rhetoric while she has a record of results.

"When the cameras are gone and the lights are off, what do you do next?" Clinton said of Obama, adding: "He does not have a record of producing change."

Of Obama's comments following Clinton's appearance, Clinton spokesman Phil Singer said that Obama was seeking to make a "rhetorical point because he can't dispute the substance of what was said about his record." Singer said that while Obama gave a speech opposing the war in 2002, that speech was removed from Obama's Web site when he started running for Senate in 2003.

"By 2004, he said he didn't disagree with George Bush's approach to the war and by 2005, 2006 and 2007, he was voting for $300 billion in funding for the war," Singer added. "Voters should have complete information about the records of all the candidates."

That contrast strategy paid dividends for Clinton in New Hampshire's primary last Tuesday as Clinton scored a comeback victory over Obama just five days after placing third in the Iowa caucuses. It appears to be the message Clinton will push between now and Feb. 5, a day which is rapidly shaping up as a huge showdown between the two Democratic senators.

McCaskill's endorsement of Obama -- known in advance but announced formally on a call this morning -- is aimed at boosting his profile in Missouri, which is one of 24 states set to vote on Feb.5

"It would be a terrible disappointment to our country if we didn't grasp this opportunity right now," McCaskill said of electing Obama. She said her 18-year-old daughter urged her strongly to come out for Obama. The Missouri senator also said that her brief experience in Washington -- she was elected in 2006 -- has taught her that she and Obama are ideological allies. "I have staked a tent in the middle ground, and with some frequency I found Barack Obama there," McCaskill said

McCaskill described Clinton as a "smart woman" and a "strong leader," but said she ultimately chose Obama because "at this moment in history it is very important that we look forward."

McCaskill is the second-high profile woman in a Feb. 5 state to announce her support for Obama in recent days. Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano was the first.

By Chris Cillizza  |  January 13, 2008; 11:18 AM ET
Categories:  Eye on 2008  
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