April 20th, 2008
04:01 PM ET
6 years ago

In the homestretch: the campaign's 'most outrageous' attacks

, ,
 The Pennsylvania contest's final days are turning into a slugfest.
The Pennsylvania contest's final days are turning into a slugfest.

(CNN) – Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama haven’t crossed paths yet during their weekend barnstorming across Pennsylvania. But they’ve been constant campaign trail companions, as each invokes the other at virtually every whistle-stop during the final blitz before Tuesday’s primary vote.

Clinton has attacked Obama for his recent comments about some small town Americans, his heath care plan, and his relative Washington inexperience – which she argues makes him unprepared to lead the country in a crisis.

Obama has taken aim at Clinton over her acceptance of money from political action committees, her health care plan, and her Washington experience – which he argues makes her unprepared to bring real change to the city.

But the most-often repeated charge, the one that makes an appearance at virtually every stop, is: negative campaigning.

"I just heard that my opponent has put out an ad attacking my health care plan, which is kind of curious because my plan covers everybody, and his leaves out 15 million people, just leaves them out in the cold,” said Clinton at a campaign rally in York Saturday. “Instead of attacking the problem he chooses to attack my solution.”

For his part, Obama accused Clinton of looking to create “fake controversy” around him in the race’s final days.

“In the last few months, she’s launched what her campaign calls a ‘kitchen sink’ strategy of negative attacks, which she defends by telling us that this is what the Republicans would do. She says that’s how the game is played,” he told a Philadelphia crowd.

In Paoli, Pennsylvania, he accused her of “slash and burn politics.”

The New York senator, he said at an appearance in Wynnewood, was “throwing everything at me and seeing if something sticks,” which he called a GOP tactic.

In response, Clinton spokesman Phil Singer e-mailed reporters a link to a quiz on the campaign’s Web site that asked them to decide who had made a given quote attacking Clinton: a member of Obama’s campaign, or a Republican.

The charges and countercharges aren’t limited to the candidates’ stump speeches. Over the past three days, both have launched negative robo-calls, tough mailers, and matching attack ads on special interest influence over their opponent. And on dueling conference calls, surrogates have used some of the race’s harshest language to date.

On an Obama conference call with reporters Saturday, Gen. Walter Stewart said Clinton’s misstatements about her trip to Bosnia as First Lady mean she “lacks the moral authority” to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

At a campaign event at Pennsylvania’s California University shortly after the call, Clinton said that the Illinois senator “always says in his speeches that he is running a positive campaign – but then his campaign does the opposite.”

Later, Clinton communications director Howard Wolfson sent reporters a memo charging that Obama had “has flooded airwaves, radio, phone lines and mailboxes with negative and false attacks against Hillary” in the previous 48 hours, calling Stewart’s remarks “the most outrageous attack of the campaign.”

The tough words underlie the high stakes, and the closeness of the race. After leading by 20 points just a few weeks ago, Clinton’s lead has shrunk to the single digits in the most recent CNN Pennsylvania Poll of Polls, an average of recent campaign surveys. Clinton, who has some roots in the state’s northeast corner, has a strong base in the state: solid support from working-class white voters, Catholics and seniors, in a state where all three are powerful and potentially decisive voting blocs.

But a record level of new voters and party-switchers in Pennsylvania – the most in any primary contest, and second in number only to the 2004 general election – have propelled Obama into contention here. On Friday, he drew an estimated 35,000 – the largest crowd of his campaign - at an outdoor rally in Philadelphia.

The risk for both is that supporters may be turned off by the race’s negative tone – a danger both recognize.

"You’ve been watching this campaign for a couple weeks, at least here in Pennsylvania, and let’s face it, it’s not pretty," Obama acknowledged Saturday in Paoli. "But the issue is not whether people are saying nasty things. The problem is that it’s a distraction from solving the problems that have to be solved."

soundoff (359 Responses)
  1. chris isner

    Clinton supporters, please chime in: how can Clinton win? She cannot gain a majority of the popular vote, delegates, or states, and she stated emphatically that Obama can beat McCain, "Yes, yes, yes!" So how can she possibly win?

    April 20, 2008 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  2. Great

    Hillary is whining now? She started all this and forced him to play according to her rules. And now when he's winning, she's whining? I totally despise that woman. I can't see how anyone can even think of voting for her.

    April 20, 2008 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  3. Clinton=fear tactics

    Please send a message to the country:
    NO TO THE WAR!
    vote for OBAMA.

    April 20, 2008 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  4. Great

    levi: You fool, it's because of people like you that thousands of our troops are dying in Iraq. Vote for McCain and kill tens of thousands more.

    April 20, 2008 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  5. Paul

    If anyone is interested in the real Obama they should read " Dreams From My Father" and see the real inside of Obama in his own words.

    April 20, 2008 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  6. honkey white guy from cali

    It is OK everyone even her campaign says that a single digit victory is still a lose! So I am not that worried I have faith he might even pull off a small narrow victory!

    April 20, 2008 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  7. The O

    So if Hillary becomes President. Who is going to have to come behind her and clean up the mess that she will leave behind Luara Bush???

    Pennsylvania we are counting on you!!!!!!!!

    OBAMA 08

    April 20, 2008 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  8. Michael G Ventura, CA

    It's getting uglier each day and all it accomplishing is giving the republicans more ammo for their GE canons!
    Put a final STOP to this PA! Obama 08!

    April 20, 2008 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  9. NoTrustInPolitics

    Well, I have no idea which candidate to trust anymore. everyone is running negative ads about the other, calling the other candidates liars.... sorry, but I cannot trust the system. That sucks for candidates trying for a vote.

    April 20, 2008 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  10. Ikebobo

    Clinton should be civil at least once in her life that is full of les and controversies. i dont know if she is trying to bring the controversies to the white house

    April 20, 2008 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  11. Mike in PA

    Come on PA, in less than 48 hours we can put this woman in her place!

    Obama '08!

    April 20, 2008 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  12. a voter

    Your just seeing how mean and hateful the Liberal Democrats (and it's pretty sad) can be in order to win.....and it's not even against a Republican...I can't wait for that next stage of the election!

    April 20, 2008 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  13. janet in wv

    stop your whineing obama you can dish it out but you can't take it if you cant't take the heat get out of the kitchen it is only going to get worse i no i will not vote for obama if hillary is out then i will vote for mccain, janet in west virginia (one of your small town hicks obama)

    April 20, 2008 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  14. Valor Theft Is Not Acceptable

    So, now Howard Wolfson is accusing General Walter Stewart of having made “the most outrageous attack of the campaign” when he said that she no longer possesses the moral authority to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier on Memorial Day.

    General Stewart has also written that "in the military accurate representation of titles and performance are at the core of ethics. This is why fabrication of service or battle credentials – what we call 'valor theft' – is so offensive to service members and veterans (or should be). Be you soldier or civilian, if you didn’t 'earn it' in service to your country, for shame that you might be wearing it or talking about it – and it is equally shameful for those who have served with honor to defend the dishonor of others. Valor theft degrades every service member and veteran... Senator Clinton’s recollection of being under fire at Tuzla is an unarguable fabrication – a reprehensible act of valor theft, no ifs, ands, or buts."

    April 20, 2008 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  15. steveda - Poconos Pennsylvania

    You know what i find most outrageous? that CNN is having Hillary Clinton on Larry King monday night, the night before the primary so we can hear her last minute comments. So much for objective reporting. Either have them both on or none. having one is like a CNN endorsement.

    April 20, 2008 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  16. Anonymous

    Hillary stopped campaigning and is just throwing out negatives that have hurt the Democratic Party and this country. Go Obama!

    April 20, 2008 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  17. Valor Theft Is Not Acceptable

    So, now Howard Wolfson is accusing General Walter Stewart of having made “the most outrageous attack of the campaign” when he said that Hillary Clinton no longer possesses the moral authority to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier on Memorial Day.

    General Stewart has also written that "in the military accurate representation of titles and performance are at the core of ethics. This is why fabrication of service or battle credentials – what we call 'valor theft' – is so offensive to service members and veterans (or should be). Be you soldier or civilian, if you didn’t 'earn it' in service to your country, for shame that you might be wearing it or talking about it – and it is equally shameful for those who have served with honor to defend the dishonor of others. Valor theft degrades every service member and veteran… Senator Clinton’s recollection of being under fire at Tuzla is an unarguable fabrication – a reprehensible act of valor theft, no ifs, ands, or buts."

    April 20, 2008 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  18. brian

    she is the thing of the past and he is what we need now . i hate how they give Mcbush stuff to use against him Obama o8

    April 20, 2008 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  19. Steve

    Give me a break! Obama and his pastor has brought curses? That is the joke of the day. I guess your curses may be blessings for others.
    Obama 08

    April 20, 2008 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  20. Venus

    Bring the Clintons down! I love how you are making them look like clowns!

    April 20, 2008 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  21. bddp

    I'll vote for Senator Clinton or Senator Obama; both have policies I think would improve our country. I just hope this doesn't divide the Democratic party. America is divided enough as it is. Stop the childish games.

    April 20, 2008 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  22. In Canada

    America PLEASE the world watches and can only hope that you vote in a Democrat Hillary Clinton!!! & just a NEW FLASH one is just as bad as the other! She is the lesser of 2 evils.

    April 20, 2008 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  23. Thamas

    OBAMA WILL NOT BEAT MCCAIN. HILLARY KNOWS IT AND EVERYONE KNOWS IT.

    HILLARY 08

    April 20, 2008 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  24. ECHEWEOZO

    nothing last forever.clintons have expired

    now we need change

    obama 08

    April 20, 2008 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  25. Sam, Muncie, Ind.

    I can't wait until Clinton is out of this. If anyone wonders whether she can win in November or do anything as a president, they need only to look at how divisive she is for her own party.

    April 20, 2008 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15

Post a comment


 

CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.