Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Obama Tacks Left, Hillary Just Tacky

A useful article from the LA Times.

Clinton intensifies her attacks on new front-runner Obama

Increased attacks
Eric Gay / Associated Press
Democratic presidential hopeful, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., gestures while speaking at a campaign stop in McAllen, Texas, Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2008.
She calls on her rival for the Democratic presidential nomination to accept more invitations to debate, including one before next week's Wisconsin contest.
By Michael Muskal, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
12:00 PM PST, February 13, 2008
A day after she lost her status as front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination, Hillary Rodham Clinton stepped up her attacks on Sen. Barack Obama, challenging her opponent to debate.

Obama of Illinois won three contests on Tuesday, in Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia, extending his recent streak to eight consecutive wins over Clinton, of New York. The victories give Obama a slight edge in delegates over Clinton, who has long portrayed herself as the inevitable winner of the Democratic nomination.

On the Republican side, Arizona Sen. John McCain solidified his claim to be the presumptive candidate by defeating former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee in Tuesday's three primaries. Huckabee has insisted he will stay in the race even though he is too far behind in delegates to win the nomination.

After visiting GOP members of the House, McCain told reporters that he would like Huckabee to end his campaign, but understood the former governor's desire to stay.

"I would like for him to withdraw today; it would be much easier," McCain said. "But I respect his right to remain in this race for just as long as he wants to."

In the wake of Tuesday's primaries, the edginess and drama were mainly on the Democratic side as Obama and Clinton campaign for next Tuesday's contests in Wisconsin and Hawaii.

Clinton has called for more debates with Obama and her campaign stepped up the call today in a broadcast ad that notes the former first lady has accepted an invitation in Wisconsin to debate.

"Hillary Clinton has said yes," the announcer says. "Barack Obama hasn't."

"Maybe he'd prefer to give speeches than have to answer questions," the announcer adds in the 30-second spot.

"Wisconsin deserves to hear both candidates debate the issues that matter. . . . And that's . . . not debatable."

Clinton today was in Texas, which holds its primary on March 4, along with Ohio, Rhode Island and Vermont.

Obama campaigned this morning at a General Motors plant in Janesville, Wis., where he blamed Washington, D.C., for current economic problems. Exit polls by the Associated Press showed that voters on Tuesday cited the economy as the No. 1 issue in the campaign.

"We are not standing on the brink of recession due to forces beyond our control," Obama said in his speech. "The fallout from the housing crisis that's cost jobs and wiped out savings was not an inevitable part of the business cycle. It was a failure of leadership and imagination in Washington.

"It's a Washington where politicians like John McCain and Hillary Clinton voted for a war in Iraq that should've never been authorized and never been waged -- a war that is costing us thousands of precious lives and billions of dollars a week" that could be used on infrastructure, job training and healthcare.

David Wilhelm, a top official in former President Bill Clinton's 1992 campaign and a former chairman of the Democratic National Committee, is scheduled to endorse Obama today in a conference call set up by the Obama campaign.

Wilhelm was a previously uncommitted superdelegate, the group of Democratic Party officials and office-holders who are expected to determine the nominee after the primary process ends in June.

Different media outlets have different delegate counts, but all agree Obama is slightly ahead in the tally. The Associated Press gives Obama 1,223 delegates to Clinton's 1,198. Democrats require 2,025 delegates to win the nomination.

The Clinton campaign, which has seen two people leave top posts in recent days, today concentrated on the delegate count. In a memo by chief strategist Mark Penn, the campaign noted: "This election will come down to delegates. Votes are still being counted and delegates apportioned, but Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are separated by approximately 40 delegates right now -- that is, barely 1% of all the delegates to the Democratic convention" in late August.

"After March 4th, over 3,000 delegates will be committed, and we project that Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama will be virtually tied with 611 delegates still to be chosen in Pennsylvania and other remaining states," Penn said.

Republicans require 1,191 delegates to win the nomination. The Associated Press gives McCain 821, Huckabee 241, and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who ended his campaign last week, 288. Texas Rep. Ron Paul has 14 delegates.

In Washington, D.C., today, McCain met with House Republicans, with whom the Arizona senator has sparred. Since Romney dropped out of the race, McCain has concentrated on smoothing GOP feathers, principally those of conservatives.

"I'm very gratified by the very warm reception that I received from the Republican conference this morning -- a spirited and a good discussion of some of the issues," McCain told reporters after his meeting. "I'm very grateful for our pledge to work together."

"Clearly, I've had some disagreements with Senator McCain over the years," said Republican leader John Boehner, of Ohio. "But I've got to tell you, I've watched this presidential race unfold, and I've watched John McCain be a strong advocate for the principles I believe in."

Times staff writers Michael Finnegan in Washington, D.C., and Maria L. LaGanga in San Francisco contributed to this report.