Robert Novak published a column this afternoon about the Hillary Clinton campaign alleging a scandal by Barack Obama.
Agents of Sen. Hillary Clinton are spreading the word in Democratic circles that she has scandalous information about her principal opponent for the party’s presidential nomination, Sen. Barack Obama, but has decided not to use it. The nature of the alleged scandal was not disclosed.
This word-of-mouth among Democrats makes Obama look vulnerable and Clinton look prudent. It comes during a dip for the front-running Clinton after she refused to take a stand on New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s now discarded plan to give driver’s licenses to illegal aliens.
The Obama camp responded swiftly and sharply:
Rather than just let that sit out there and possibly fade away, Obama brought it center stage with a strong rebuttal. He said in a statement, “The cause of change in this country will not be deterred or sidetracked by the old ‘Swift boat’ politics. The cause of moving America forward demands that we defeat it….
“I am prepared to stand up to that kind of politics, whether it’s deployed by candidates in our party, in the other party or by any third party.”
He called on Clinton to release the alleged information — or renounce the whole thing. He added: “She of all people, having complained so often about ‘the politics of personal destruction,’ should move quickly to either stand by or renounce these tactics.”
Now the Clinton camp is saying that they don’t know what Obama is talking about. Howard Wolfson, Clinton campaign manager said:
“This is how Republicans work. A Republican-leaning journalist runs a blind item designed to set Democrats against one another. Experienced Democrats see this for what it is. Others get distracted and thrown off their games. Voters should be concerned about the readiness of any Democrat inexperienced enough to fall for this. There is only one campaign in this race that has actually engaged in the very practice that Sen. Obama is decrying, and it’s his. We have no idea what Mr. Novak’s item is about and reject it totally. Instead of pointing fingers at us, Sen. Obama should get back to the issues and focus on what this election is really about.”
The fact that the Clinton camp tried to spin this to berate Obama on “experience” supports that they are guilty. Also, is she saying that Democrats shouldn’t quickly respond to Republican attacks? The “experienced” person would know that the reason Kerry faltered is that he did not strike back quickly against such attacks. For the Clinton camp to say that Obama should do otherwise is an insult and deception.
The Obama campaign manager responds that the Clinton response amounts to the
“Washington art of evasion and deflection”: “Are ‘agents’ of their campaign spreading these rumors? And do they have ’scandalous’ information that they are not releasing? Yes or no?”
The Clinton camp responded that they didn’t have any scandalous information but continued to spin the issue as a question of Obama’s experience. A Clinton spokesperson said:
“Bob Novak is a Republican columnist … a Democratic candidate should be smart enough not to fall into a trap he’s set for Democrats to go after each other,” he said. “If you don’t know how to avoid that in the primary, how are you going to avoid it in the general (election)?”
Obama Campaign Manager David Plouffe rejected that suggestion.
“The Clinton campaign has admitted that they do not possess the scandalous information in question and we take them at their word,” he said in a statement. “But what we don’t accept is their assertion that this is somehow falling for Republican tricks. This is exactly the kind of smear politics Democrats need to fight back on, regardless of the source or the party. Democrats should know that when Barack Obama is their nominee, he will not allow the Swift boat politics of fear and diversion to prevail in this campaign.”
We finally have a decent Presidential nominee and the Washington establishment is trying to take him down into the gutter with them.Iowa, please lead us to the Promised Land!