The Clinton campaign gathered Congress members Nita Lowey, Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Gregory Meeks on a conference call this morning to demand that Barack Obama sever his campaign’s ties to senior adviser and Pulitzer-prize-winning academic Samantha Power after she called Hillary Clinton a “monster” in an interview with a Scottish newspaper.
Congresswoman Lowey of New York opened by saying, “We feel so strongly that this is a long way that we have to go in this campaign, and it’s likely to go all the way to Denver. Personal attacks are not the way to go.” She went on, “We’re calling on Senator Obama to make it clear that Samantha Power should not be part of this campaign.”
Lowey later said, “This is an important test for Senator Obama….it’s really a test of character. This comment set a tone.” She then added, “I think Senator Obama has to make a public statement and separate himself from Samantha Power.”
Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida came on the line next and told reporters who were listening in, “Senator Obama set a tone for this campaign and talked about the politics of hope.” She added “those kinds of comments are not appropriate for a senior advisers.” Schultz reduced Powers’ comments to “the result of frustration and anger over his losses on Tuesday.”
Greg Meeks of New York spoke next. “Politics is a contact sport,” he said. “But the contact should be on the issues.” He called Powers’ remarks “personal character assassination” and wondered “what else are people saying off the record or behind the scenes.”
Meeks then denounced personal attacks on candidates and said, “Everything has been on the issues from our campaign.” When that assertion was a reporter challenged that assertion during the question-and-answer session, citing as an contradictory example the time that Clinton surrogate Bill Shaheen made remarks about Barack Obama’s drug use, Wolfson answered, “As you know, when Mr. Shaheen made comments along those lines he was removed from the campaign” in order “to show that that was not the kind of campaign that we were running.”
When another reporter said that the Clinton campaign “has never held [BET owner] Bob Johnson accountable for comments he made," Wolfson responded, “There have been moments in the campaign where people associated with the campaign made inappropriate comments and were separated from the campaign.” He went on, “In this instance… it’s my recollection that there was some initial sense that Bob Johnson was referring to one thing, later a sense that perhaps he was referring to something else.” He added, “Bob Johnson is a supporter of ours, but he is not a senior policy adviser…I don’t mean to minimize his importance, but he is not someone who is part of the daily campaign life.”
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