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Postman on Politics

Chief political reporter David Postman explores state, regional and national politics.

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February 25, 2008 8:42 AM

Clinton gets help from some strange fellows

Posted by David Postman

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Just two days after Hillary Clinton scolded Barack Obama for running a campaign “right out of Karl Rove’s playbook,” her campaign is getting a boost from the Republican National Committee itself as well as Republicans’ favorite writer of huge headlines, Matt Drudge.

The lead item and photo on the Drudge Report at this hour is Obama dressed in traditional Somali clothing. Drudge says the photo is being circulated by “stressed Clinton staffers.”

The photo, taken in 2006, shows the Democrat frontrunner fitted as a Somali Elder, during his visit to Wajir, a rural area in northeastern Kenya.

The senator was on a five-country tour of Africa.

Drudge doesn’t say why the Clinton campaign was e-mailing the photo. But it’s safe to say that they thought it would help their candidate to have their rival show up dressed as an African elder. Obama has had to refute baseless claims that he was raised as a Muslim.

Obama campaign manager David Plouffe told the Politico that the Clinton campaign tactics were “shameful offensive fear-mongering."

Perhaps the strangest twist on this, though, comes from Clinton campaign manager Maggie Williams. She e-mailed reporters a statement this morning that said:


“If Barack Obama's campaign wants to suggest that a photo of him wearing traditional Somali clothing is divisive, they should be ashamed. Hillary Clinton has worn the traditional clothing of countries she has visited and had those photos published widely.

“This is nothing more than an obvious and transparent attempt to distract from the serious issues confronting our country today and to attempt to create the very divisions they claim to decry.

“We will not be distracted.”

But wouldn’t e-mailing the photo to Drudge be “an obvious and transparent attempt to distract from the serious issues”? And if not, why didn’t the campaign e-mail photos of Clinton dressed in foreign garb?

Shame, by the way, is becoming the catchword here in Ohio. In Cincinnati Saturday, an angry Clinton scolded Obama and said, "Shame on you, Barack Obama” for sending out a misleading mailer.

And yesterday, in introducing Bill Clinton, Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland was reprimanding the media for writing off Hillary, and someone in the audience shouted, “Shame on them.” It didn’t quite catch on as a chant, but it was shouted out several times from the crowd at various times.

Clinton is also getting a boost today from the Republican National Committee. The RNC has joined her efforts to paint Obama as flip-flopping on NAFTA. The Republicans feature a piece on their Web site this morning headlined,

Obama Claims He "Never" Supported NAFTA, But Praised The Deal During His Last Campaign

In This Campaign, Obama Attacks Sen. Clinton's Past Support Of NAFTA, Saying He Has "Never" Supported The Free Trade Pact:

Obama: "I Don't Think NAFTA Has Been Good For America - And I Never Have."
Obama: "Ten years after NAFTA passed, Senator Clinton said it was good for America. ... Well, I don't think NAFTA has been good for America - and I never have." (David Espo, "Obama Hits Clinton On NAFTA Support," The Associated Press, 2/24/08)

But In His Last Campaign, Obama Praised NAFTA:

In 2004 Obama Said U.S. Benefits Enormously From Exports Under NAFTA.

All those points were made last week by the Clinton campaign.

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