Monday, January 07, 2008

Not So Fast, Clinton Says About Obama Momentum

Here's the lead story in today's NYT, which reflects Sen. Clinton's scrambling.  She's trying hard, but doesn't have a lot of good options.  The standard political playbook would be to go negative, but that's likely to backfire.

“You campaign in poetry, but you govern in prose,” Mrs. Clinton said, urging voters to take a second look at the race. “We need a president who knows how to govern, who will bring us together as a country to find common ground, but who also knows how to stand our ground.”

The fresh criticism, an abrupt change for the Clinton campaign, came as polls here suggested Mr. Obama had received a significant boost from his victory in the Iowa caucuses last week and now enjoyed a comfortable lead here. Advisers to Mrs. Clinton were privately looking ahead to the next Democratic contest with delegates at stake, the Nevada caucuses on Jan. 19, in hopes of revitalizing her candidacy.

As Mr. Obama drew standing ovations in crowded gymnasiums and theaters across southern New Hampshire, he barely acknowledged the criticism. Yet he derided Mrs. Clinton for suggesting during a televised debate on Saturday evening that his candidacy was rooted in a false hope.

“What kind of agenda is that? False hope?” Mr. Obama said. He declared: “There’s something going on out there. Something’s stirring in the wind.”...

One day after declaring that Mr. Obama had failed to gain the traditional bounce from securing a victory in the Iowa caucuses, Mrs. Clinton presented a newly aggressive posture as the new polls were released on Sunday. While advisers said it was one that she has wanted for days, the campaign had been struggling for the right words and tone.

As her campaign in Iowa was sputtering last week, Mrs. Clinton said on a telephone conference call with her advisers, “We’ve got to show a lot more fight,” according to two of them.

But on caucus night Thursday, and during the next two days, some of her advisers were arguing about the best ways to show a fighting spirit — and ended up muddling through 48 hours before New Hampshire’s primary on Tuesday. Some pleaded to put a negative commercial against Mr. Obama on the air, but senior campaign officials judged there was not enough time for it to have impact. Leaflets criticizing Mr. Obama were mailed instead.


Not So Fast, Clinton Says About Obama Momentum

Published: January 7, 2008

DERRY, N.H. — Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton on Sunday sought to slow the momentum of Senator Barack Obama heading into the New Hampshire primary on Tuesday by pointedly challenging his voting record and the assertion that he is the only candidate who would bring about change.


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