(CNN) – In the hours leading up to Thursday night’s Democratic debate, Hillary Clinton’s staffers are ramping up recent accusations that rival Barack Obama’s team is engaged in negative campaigning.
In a conference call with reporters Wednesday afternoon, the Clinton camp pointed to direct mailings distributed by the Obama campaign in Connecticut that they said take a Clinton statement about her Iraq war vote out of context.
The Obama flier said the New York senator had admitted to voting in favor of the Iraq war despite the fact that she had not read an intelligence report that cast doubt on claims that Saddam Hussein’s government possessed weapons of mass destruction.
The Clinton campaign called the mailer misleading, saying only “a handful of senators” had read the report itself – and that most, like Clinton, had instead opted for a briefing by the report’s authors.
On Tuesday, the Clinton campaign highlighted another mailing sent by the Obama campaign. The North Dakota mail piece alleged that Hillary Clinton had once supported the North American Free Trade Agreement, but shifted her position to one of opposition as her presidential campaign began. The flier also claimed that she was too close to “lobbyists and special interests.”
Clinton’s team told reporters that Obama and his campaign had been “misquoting and misrepresenting Hillary's views on NAFTA for weeks,” and said that Obama himself had raised money from lobbyists in the past.
Accusations of negative campaigning have dominated the Democratic presidential campaign in recent weeks, with Obama accusing both Hillary Clinton and her husband, Bill Clinton, of engaging in unfair attacks. The Clinton campaign has made similar charges against the Illinois senator, saying Obama campaign trail statements, mailings and ads have distorted Clinton’s record.
UPDATE: A few hours before the CNN Democratic debate in Los Angeles, the Clinton team highlighted another negative mailer from the Obama campaign, this one attacking the Clinton health care plan. The mail piece said those who failed to purchase health insurance under the Clinton plan would be fined, a suggestion her campaign immediately dismissed as false.
–CNN Associate Political Editor Rebecca Sinderbrand