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With Opposition Research, Tone Is Revealing

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Saturday, June 16, 2007

In the shadowy world of opposition research and not-for-attribution dossiers, things can get confusing.

On Thursday, Sen. Barack Obama's campaign circulated a memo criticizing Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton "(D-Punjab)" for having financial ties to India and encouraging the outsourcing of jobs. It included a joke the senator from New York told at a fundraiser with Indian Americans last year: "I can certainly run for the Senate seat in Punjab and win easily."

After the oppo research was circulated and generated some bad press for Clinton -- "Punjab Hillary!" blared the headline of JustHillary.com, a site devoted to chronicling the former first lady -- much of the attention shifted to the senator from Illinois, who trails Clinton in most polls. After all, he has worked to convey that his campaign would be elevated above such rough and tough tactics as circulating opposition research.

The Obama campaign defended the memo as legitimate research. "The intent of the document was to discuss the issue of outsourcing, but we regret the tone that parts of the document took," said David Plouffe, Obama's campaign manager.

Clinton's campaign declined to make an official comment.

-- Anne E. Kornblut

Romney's Conviction

Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney addressed an audience with some concerns about his shifting positions on abortion -- National Right to Life -- by saying his newfound opposition to abortion rights is his heartfelt "conviction."

"I know that it is not time but conviction that unites us. I proudly follow a long line of converts -- George Herbert Walker Bush, Henry Hyde and Ronald Reagan, to name a few. I am evidence that your work, that your relentless campaign to promote the sanctity of human life, bears fruit," he told hundreds of antiabortion activists in Kansas City, Mo.

"My experience as governor taught me firsthand that the threat to our culture is real," Romney said. "When responsibility for life or ending life was placed in my hands, I made the right decision."

Romney has been attacked by his opponents for changing positions on abortion -- he promised as governor to uphold laws affirming a woman's right to an abortion. Romney said that while he always personally opposed abortion, he ultimately became an opponent of laws protecting abortion rights during the debate over research on embryonic stem cells in Massachusetts.


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