Obama Accuses Clinton of Deception

By Perry Bacon Jr.
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, March 10, 2008

Eager to shift the narrative after a difficult week, Sen. Barack Obama's campaign sharply criticized the tactics of his rival, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, charging her campaign with attempting "to deceive the American people just so that they can win this election."

Obama (Ill.) easily won caucuses in Wyoming on Saturday, but the two candidates had one of their quietest weekends of the campaign. Obama is to travel today to Mississippi, where he is leading in polls ahead of tomorrow's primary. Clinton (N.Y.) will campaign in Pennsylvania, which will vote on April 22.

Still reeling from Clinton's wins in Ohio and Texas, Obama's camp sent out a memo to supporters titled "Doing Whatever It Takes to Win." It characterized Clinton's strategy for victory as "tearing Barack Obama down" and said her campaign "should stop telling the American people things that they know aren't true."

With both candidates settling in for a protracted battle that appears certain to drag on past Pennsylvania, Clinton's campaign continued to hit Obama over comments from Harvard professor Samantha Power, who resigned from his campaign Friday after being quoted calling Clinton a "monster." Power had also suggested that Obama's proposal on Iraq, calling for troops to be brought home in the first 16 months he is in office, was a campaign plan by which he would not be bound if he were elected.

"Once again, it looks like Senator Obama is telling voters one thing while his campaign says those words should not be mistaken for serious action," a memo from the Clinton campaign read.

With Obama holding an advantage of about 140 pledged convention delegates over Clinton, his allies argued strenuously that the outcome of the contest should be determined by delegates awarded to winners of primaries or caucuses, and not by the 796 Democratic superdelegates. Former Senate majority leader Thomas A. Daschle (S.D.), a co-chair of the Obama campaign, said it would be a "travesty" if Obama maintains his lead among pledged delegates but an advantage among superdelegates allows Clinton to win the nomination.

"I don't see how we could possibly do anything other than respect the will of the people who have voted in caucus and primary states all over the country," he said on NBC's "Meet the Press." "And what it would say to the world, to the country, that we'd overturn the verdict of those . . . elections would be travesty for . . . the party and for the country."

Edward G. Rendell, the governor of Pennsylvania and a Clinton supporter, countered by arguing that "the traditional role of the superdelegates is to determine who's going to be our strongest candidate."

In the same "Meet the Press" program, Rendell became the latest member of Clinton's team to suggest that she would pick Obama as her running mate if she won the nomination. She mentioned the possibility last week, and former president Bill Clinton spoke of it at length during a campaign stop in Mississippi on Saturday.

"If you can unite the energy and the new people that he's brought in and the people in these vast swaths of small-town and rural America that she's carried overwhelmingly, if you had those two things together she thinks it'd be hard to beat," Clinton told ABC News in Pass Christian, Miss. "You look at most of these places, he would win the urban areas and the upscale voters, and she wins the traditional rural areas that we lost when President Reagan was president. If you put those two things together, you'd have an almost unstoppable force."

Daschle said Obama does not have "any interest in being vice president," because "he's going to be our presidential nominee."

"It's really a rare occurrence, maybe the first time in history, that the person who's running No. 2 would offer the person who's running No. 1 the No. 2 position," Daschle said.

© 2008 The Washington Post Company