A Clinton advisor said Wednesday Republicans may challenge Obama on his past drug use.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - A high-ranking advisor to Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign said Wednesday that rival Barack Obama's public admission that he has used cocaine and marijuana could seriously hinder the Illinois senator’s chances of winning a general election matchup.
The comments were immediately called "desperate" by Obama's campaign. Meanwhile, Clinton spokesman Phil Singer said "the comments were not authorized or condoned by the campaign in any way."
Speaking to a Washington Post reporter in Dover, New Hampshire, Bill Shaheen - a co-chairman of the New York senator's campaign in the Granite State - said he expects Republicans will "jump on" Obama's remarks should he become the nominee.
"The Republicans are not going to give up without a fight ... and one of the things they're certainly going to jump on is his drug use," Shaheen said. "It'll be, 'When was the last time? Did you ever give drugs to anyone? Did you sell them to anyone?'"
"There are so many openings for Republican dirty tricks. It's hard to overcome," he added.
Obama spokesman David Plouffe said Wednesday afternoon that Shaheen’s comments were "an increasingly desperate effort to slow [Clinton's] slide in the polls."
"Sen. Clinton’s campaign is recycling old news that Barack Obama has been candid about in a book he wrote years ago, and he’s talked about the lessons he’s learned from these mistakes with young people all across the country," said Plouffe.
In addition to saying the campaign did not approve of the remarks, Clinton's spokesman added, "Sen. Clinton is out every day talking about the issues that matter to the American people."
In Obama's 1995 book Dreams of My Father - a book that was little read at the time, but recently reprinted - the future presidential candidate writes he was once headed in the direction of a "junkie" and a "pothead."
Referring to his emotional struggles as a young man, Obama writes, "Pot had helped, and booze; maybe a little blow when you could afford it. Not smack, though."
The latest back-and-forth between the two campaigns on the issue of Obama's electability came the same day a new CNN/WMUR poll showed the two candidates statistically locked in a dead heat in New Hampshire. Clinton stands at 31 percent, with Obama just 1 percentage point behind – a statistical tie, given the poll's margin of error of plus or minus 5 percentage points.
UPDATE: Shaheen issued the following statement Wednesday night: "I deeply regret the comments I made today and they were not authorized by the campaign in any way."
- CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney