Clinton Campaign Hammers Obama for Being Political

For months now, Barack Obama’s criticisms of Hillary Clinton’s seemingly inconsistent positions on the war have been veiled behind mooshy language like, some people say, or some people on that stage, or, when he was feeling especially direct, the senator from New York.

In the past couple of days, Obama has taken a much more direct approach.

Yesterday, the Union Leader published a pointed opinion piece by Obama about Iran in which he wrote, “I strongly differ with Sen. Hillary Clinton, who was the only Democratic presidential candidate to support this reckless amendment.” Today Obama is quoted saying about Clinton’s position on Iran, “I’m not sure if any of us knows exactly where she’s standing on this issue.”

Now the Clinton campaign has put out the following release as a response:

“There have been three major developments in the race this month: Senator Clinton has broken 50 percent in several primary polls, she outraised the other candidates in the third quarter and her opponents have entered a new season of the campaign that they call "clear contrast." Most others call it negative campaigning.

Related? You bet.

Yesterday's FOX News/Opinion Dynamics Poll puts Senator Clinton at the 50 percent mark, Senator Barack Obama at 18 and former Senator John Edwards at 11. This poll comes on the heels of last week's Washington Post/ABC News poll which had Senator Clinton at 53 percent, Senator Obama at 20 percent and former Senator Edwards at 13 percent.

And it's not just the national polls that show Hillary getting stronger. Recent polls in the early states of New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina show her with consistent, wide leads while the latest data in Iowa shows that her support is growing.

To put these numbers in context, six months ago Hillary held as little as a 5-point lead over Senator Obama – today, as all of the candidates have become better known, her lead has grown to as many as 33 points.

At the same time, Hillary — for the first time — outraised Senator Obama in both primary and overall contributions. She attracted 100,000 new donors in the third quarter — more than Senator Obama — and raised $8 million online.

These trends reflect the fact that Hillary's message of experience and change is resonating with voters as the first primary contests grow closer. She spent the last week explaining her programs to rebuild the middle class after 7 years of neglect by President Bush (See: David Brooks ; New York Daily News ), following on her well received healthcare plan. She is outlining her vision for change and talking with the voters about her ideas.

Other campaigns are reacting. Senator Obama said yesterday his campaign will be entering a time of "sharp contrast" in an article headlined " Obama: Bye-Bye Mr. Nice Guy? "

Apparently Senator Obama's fall in the polls has led him to abandon his pledge to change our politics and bring people together.

This week Senator Obama criticized Senator Clinton's vote to designate the Iranian Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist organization.

Senator Obama was silent on the measure when it was considered on the floor. Despite serving on the Foreign Affairs Committee, he wasn't involved in Senate negotiations or discussions over the bill's language. (See: Huffington Post ) He didn't speak out against it before it was voted on – he didn't even return from the campaign trail to vote. He didn't speak out against it at a nationally televised debate that night or defend himself from an attack during the debate on his missed vote. In fact, he waited more than nine hours after the vote was over to issue a statement about it.

If Senator Obama believed the measure was as dangerous as he says, wouldn't he have had some obligation to stand up, speak out, and fight against it?

So perhaps something else is at work: politics.

As Senator Obama's closest ally in the Senate, Illinois Senator Dick Durbin, said, "If I thought there was any way it could be used as a pretense to launch an invasion of Iran I would have voted no."

As Senator Obama abandons the politics of hope in favor of attack politics, Senator Clinton remains focused on her vision for America – the kind of vision that today is attracting the key endorsement of civil rights hero Congressman John Lewis

UPDATE: An interested reader points out the following exchange from an appearance by Senator Dick Durbin, an Obama supporter, on “Political Capital with Al Hunt”:

Hunt: Your presidential candidate and Illinois colleague, Barack Obama, this week criticized Hillary Clinton’s vote to label the Iranian Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist organization. He said it was the same sort of reckless and misguided vote as her support for the Iraqi war five years ago. Do you agree with Senator Obama?

Durbin: No, I don’t. And it’s rare that Barack and I disagree on an issue of this magnitude. And I understand the presidential campaign, but I read that Kyl-Lieberman resolution very carefully and announced I wouldn’t vote for it unless they changed it dramatically. They agreed to remove two offensive paragraphs that I thought went way too far. This sense of the Senate, I don’t believe gives any authority to the president of the United States to invade Iran or any other country. I think that was very clear during the course of the debate. I have the same concerns that Barack Obama does about this administration and what they might do with the power that they have. But I don’t think this resolution gives them a green light to do anything.