Wednesday, February 21, 2007

"Obama, Clinton begin trading jabs over each other's donors"

The Raw Story:
The campaigns for two of the top Democratic presidential hopefuls, Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) and Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY), have begun officially trading barbs with one another today. The war is being waged over statements made, not by the candidates themselves, their staff members or even by bloggers on the payroll, but by their supporters.
Obama’s campaign released a statement, obtained by RAW STORY, criticizing Clinton for accepting the endorsement of South Carolina State Senator Robert Ford: "Senator Clinton lavished praise on Monday and is fully willing to accept today the support of South Carolina State Sen. Robert Ford, who said if Barack Obama were to win the nomination, he would drag down the rest of the Democratic Party because ’he's black.’"

The remarks were a hit back at the Clinton campaign, who released a statement earlier today demanding that Obama renounce the endorsement of—and return donations to—powerful Hollywood producer David Geffen.

Once a strong Clinton supporter, Geffen has decided to support the Illinois senator in the primaries, calling him “inspirational,” and praising him as someone who isn’t from the “Bush royal family or the Clinton royal family.”

Geffen called Sen. Clinton “smart” and “ambitious” but also “an incredibly polarizing figure.” The entertainment mogul also took aim at her husband, by calling former President Bill Clinton“reckless” and someone who can lie “with such ease, it’s troubling.”

“By refusing to disavow the personal attacks from his biggest fundraiser against Senator Clinton and President Clinton, Senator Obama has called into serious question whether he really believes his own rhetoric," states a press release at Senator Clinton's website. "How can Senator Obama denounce the politics of slash & burn yesterday while his own campaign is espousing the politics of trash today?"

Underneath the statement, Clinton's campaign included a clip from an Associated Press article that quoted Obama telling a Las Vegas crowd, "We've got to get beyond the small politics, ... the slash and burn politics that have become the custom in Washington."

Responding to the volley, Obama’s camp highlighted the controversial statements Clinton’s southern supporter made, and noted the "irony" behind the fact that Geffen had once backed the Clintons: “We aren’t going to get in the middle of a disagreement between the Clintons and someone who was once one of their biggest supporters. It is ironic that the Clintons had no problem with David Geffen when was (sic) raising them $18 million and sleeping at their invitation in the Lincoln bedroom.”

In the wake of the row, Clinton told the Associated Press, "I'm just going to stay focused on my campaign and I'm going to run a positive campaign about the issues that affect the people in our country."

Commenters at Clinton’s campaign blog were mostly supportive of the former first lady, but some were less enthused about the campaigns' 'anti-Obama' moves based on what a supporter said.

“Let's stick together during this campaign season,” said a commenter with the handle MaryanneB. “I am a Clinton supporter, but as with any democratic candidate, I will not vote for anyone that slings mud at the other. Mr. Geffen is not Senator Obama and has a right to voice his opinion. Please let us take a step back and remember that these are all qualified candidates. Let us fight the Republican Party not each other.”

Likewise, commenter lisanjazz added, “This might not be a popular post but I think we may be on the wrong side of this one. Geffen's comments were his own opinion and he is allowed to voice that opinion. To hold any candidate responsible for everything their supporters say sounds a little close to Bush type interference to me. I certainly wouldn't expect Hillary to return money from every person who says something negative about her opponents and I just can't justify holding someone else to that standard when the comments don't support my cause.”
Howard Fineman has some pundit predictions on who benefits from this dispute. There is also some video there from MSNBC:
Hillary Clinton is upset over criticism from a Barack Obama supporter, media mogul David Geffen, and wants an apology from the Illinois senator. Clinton’s communication director Howard Wolfson talks to MSNBC-TV’s Norah O’Donnell about the controversy.

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