Saturday, December 15, 2007

"Obama’s Vow on Opposition Research"

The Caucus (NY Times political blog):
WATERLOO, Iowa – Like all presidential campaigns, Senator Barack Obama employs a vigorous research operation at his Chicago headquarters whose task is to look into his background (to ward off surprises) and to study the records and histories of his rivals.
In a news conference today, Mr. Obama vowed to fire anyone on his staff who was looking into the personal lives of a candidate in the Democratic field. He was responding to a question asked about research pertaining to Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton.

“I have been very clear to my campaign. I do not want to see research that is involved in trying to tear people down personally,” Mr. Obama said. “If I find out that somebody is doing that, they will be fired. And I have been absolutely crystal clear about this, and I have been clear about this for a very long time.”

Mr. Obama’s remarks appeared, to a certain extent, narrowly drawn, suggesting
that only personal attacks were off bounds. The Obama campaign has as vigorous an opposition research shop as any of the Democrats, churning out information on opponents’ votes, remarks, quotes, and inconsistencies, in an attempt to encourage negative stories in the press.

As the days draw down before the Democratic presidential nominating contest opens, a flurry of back-and-forth accusations and statements are sure to fly. This on-the-record disavowal from Mr. Obama, who earlier this year pledged to run a different kind of campaign, places his campaign staff on notice in the heady weeks to come.

“That’s not what I believe in, that’s not who I am,” Mr. Obama said about any personal research information that could be and frankly, just from a practical or political perspective, it’s contrary to the kind of message of change that I’ve been talking about on this campaign.”

So why, Mr. Obama was asked, did members of his staff report on the campaign spending report that they had gone to the Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock?

“That I can’t answer, because I don’t know that for certain,” Mr. Obama said. “But they would not be looking for personal items.”

Later, he added, that “Senator Clinton’s argued that her experience as first lady is relevant.” It was fair game, he said, for candidates – and voters – to know “what decisions you were involved in the White House.”



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