Clinton angry over Obama’s mailings

Hillary Rodham Clinton angrily accused her Democratic rival Saturday of deliberately misrepresenting her positions on NAFTA and health care in mass mailings to voters, adding, “Shame on you, Barack Obama.”

Clutching two of Obama campaign mailings in her hand for emphasis, the former first lady said, “enough with the speeches and the big rallies and then using tactics that are right out of Karl Rove’s playbook.”

Obama defended the mailings as accurate and rejected Clinton’s complaint as a political ploy. He said that despite her current criticism of NAFTA, she supported the trade agreement when it passed during her husband’s administration.

“You can’t be for something and take credit for an administration … and then when you run for president say that you didn’t really mean what you said way back then. It doesn’t work like that,” he said to cheers at a rally in Akron.

The long distance clash erupted as the two Democrats campaigned separately across Ohio, one of two big states with primaries on March 4.

Obama has won 11 straight primaries and caucuses, and some of Clinton’s supporters have said she must win both Ohio and Texas a week from Tuesday to keep her hopes alive of winning the party nomination. Recent polls show Ohio is close, and Texas closer.

Clinton’s frustration was evident as she criticized Obama in unusually strong terms — a few days after ending a nationally televised debate by saying she was “honored to be here with” him in a historic race between a black man and a woman.

She said by his actions, Obama was giving “aid and comfort to the very special interests and their allies in the Republican Party who are against doing what we want to do for America.”

“Meet me in Ohio,” she said. “Let’s have a debate about your tactics and your behavior in this campaign.” The two are scheduled to debate Tuesday in Cleveland.

In her criticism of Obama, she asked, “Since when do Democrats attack one another on universal health care?”

Obama had a ready reply to that. “Well, when she started to say I was against universal health care … which she does every single day,” he said.

Since late last year, Clinton has consistently attacked Obama’s health care plan, saying it would leave 15 million Americans uninsured.

Clinton’s advisers have repeatedly criticized the Obama campaign’s mailings, both of which went out in the last several days.

One says her plan for universal coverage would “force” everyone to purchase insurance even if they can’t afford it. Her plan requires everyone to be covered, but it offers tax credits and other subsidies to make insurance more affordable.

Obama’s plan does not include the so-called “individual mandate” for adults, and he has argued that people cannot be required to buy coverage if they can’t afford it. He has said his first priority is bringing down costs.

The Illinois senator’s plan does include a mandate requiring parents to buy health insurance to cover children.

The second mailing, on the North American Free Trade Agreement, quotes a 2006 Newsday article suggesting Clinton believed the agreement had been a “boon” to the economy. NAFTA and other trade agreements are extremely unpopular in Ohio, which has suffered an exodus of blue-collar jobs to other countries in part due to such agreements.

It’s a particularly sensitive matter for Clinton, whose husband championed and pushed for passage of the agreement as president. She is counting on the support of white, working class voters in the state.

“I am fighting to change NAFTA,” she insisted. “Neither of us were in the Senate when NAFTA passed. Neither voted one way or the other.”

Clinton said Newsday had corrected the record about her views on the agreement. Indeed, the paper published a blog item earlier this month saying Obama’s use of the word “boon” was unfair.

“Obama’s use of the citation in this way does strike us as misleading,” the paper said. “The quote marks make it look as if Hillary said “boon,” not us. It’s an example of the kind of slim reeds campaigns use to try to win an office.”

Earlier, Newsday published an item saying the word “boon” had been the paper’s “characterization of how we best understood her position on NAFTA, based on a review of past stories and her public statements.”

As evidence of their concern about the issue, the Clinton campaign released two new ads in Ohio, including one featuring John Glenn — a former astronaut and U.S. senator from Ohio for 24 years — saying Clinton would fix trade agreements like NAFTA.

Clinton said she felt good about her prospects in Ohio and Texas but refused to say whether she needed to win both states to stay in the race.

“Let’s let the people of Ohio vote. Let’s actually have an election and then we can look at the results,” she said.


Associated Press Writer David Espo in Columbus contributed to this article.


  1. keith

    Sorry, but Mrs. Clinton actually DID say that she WOULD consider “garnishing people’s wages” to pay for her “universal” health care system.

    She tried to duck the question on Sunday, February 3rd when ABC’s George Stephanopoulos asked her about wage-garnishing three times. And Mrs. Clinton told Stephanopoulos “there are a number of ways” of getting people to enroll in her universal health care plan. “I think you can automatically enroll people, and you will then say you’ve got to be part of this.”

    She added that Congress is sure to “have some ideas” about it as well. “But if you don’t start with universal health care, if you don’t say everybody’s going to be in the system, we’ll never get there,” Clinton said.

    Pressed a third time on the wage-garnishing question, Clinton said, “we will have an enforcement mechanism — whether it’s that (wage garnishing) or it’s some other mechanism through the tax system or automatic enrollments.”

    Clinton said the “key point” is to implement universal health care. She said the mechanism by which it is achieved — “going after people’s wages, automatic enrollment…whatever the mechanism is, is not as important as…the fundamental commitment to universal health care…” she didn’t rule it out.

    That’s the quote. And that’s what she actually said. It sure sounds like she would at least consider garnishing people’s wages…whether directly or via additional taxes….to pay for her grand plans.

    It would also appear that Mr. Obama is simply re-quoting something Mrs. Clinton said about the specifics of her health care plan…something, that I’ll bet she now wishes she had NOT shared in front of a national audience.

    Sorry, Mrs. Clinton, but despite your very best efforts to attack Mr. Obama for his words (and then deny your own), words still DO have meaning!

  2. WWWexler

    Regarding her protest of the NAFTA mailer…

    She is claiming that she never voted for NAFTA so she shouldn’t be held responsible for it. That’s partially true. She didn’t vote for it, because she didn’t hold office. However, Bill Clinton was instrumental in pushing NAFTA through and getting it signed.

    So, you can’t have it both ways, Hillary. On the one hand you claim to be “ready to go on day one” because of all your Washington experience. But when it comes to taking responsibility for that experience, all you come up with is excuses. What’s your excuse for voting for the Iraq war? Oh, that’s right, you’re the victim here.

    That’s why she can’t be trusted; if you accept her argument of experience then you must agree that she’s incompetent and working against the best interest of Americans.


  3. incog99

    Hillary shouldn’t “go off” like that. Regardless of how we feel, the country is still sexist and will view her has a shrill woman. It just doesn’t work for her in this environment no matter how liberated we feel about a woman running for president. In Ohio, I am sure many blue collar men are thinking she is just not ready to take a “man’s” job.

    It’s just he way it is unfortunately.

  4. Janet

    Hillary is looking to be schizo. She needs to control her temper. Just this week, she was saying how honored she was to be on stage with Barack. Now she’s trashing him.

    Barack has not attacked her personally, only her position and track record on issues and she should stick to the same. Saying that he was Rove-like is totally uncalled for and made her look bad.

    She is obviously tired and sensing defeat is near. It’s the last throws of desperation. It’s too bad, because after that nice nice at the last debate, I was starting to believe that an Obama/Clinton ticket might actually be in the works.

  5. Carl Nemo

    Ok…so she’s angreeeee…! :))

    I all I can say is the photo associated with this article shows what an un-presidential screeching “harpy” she’ll make if she lands in the Whitehouse. Make no mistake, she’s truly a “nasty piece of work”…! She’ll be a version of G.W. Bush in a skirt.

    A fascinating book entitled “All the Presidents Pastries” by Roland Mesnier, a 2007 release by the Flamarion Press is an excellent expose’ of how Mrs. Clinton operated in the Whitehouse. Mesnier was the Whitehouse pastry chef for 25 years and had gone through a number of presidencies.

    His general observations about the Clinton’s were that they simply used the Whitehouse for revolving door fund-raising activities. She’d have him make hundreds of croissants and other patisserie creations and then “sell” them for campaign contributions…?! It doesn’t sound quite legal to me. “We the People” pay for the ingredients, then they use taxpayer paid labor to make pastries selling them for contributions?!

    Supposedly one of his pastry creations fetched $16,000 for the Clinton’s war chest. According to Mesnier’s observations it seemed there was a co-presidency in operation during the Clinton years with each running their own campaign contribution shakedown op. I urge people to pick up a copy of the book and enjoy some reading that’s very close to home; ie., one’s stomach and how even an appetite could be manipulated to fetch just a few bucks more for the Clintons.

    Also a bonus link for Clinton diehard supporters. It’s an excellent refresher for fading or even failing memories.

    Carl Nemo **==

  6. old_curmudgeon

    Bush in a skirt. Jeez, talk about… Ah well, not really worth the effort. Besides, it’s “pant suit.” Skirts are too un-Commander-in-Chief like.

  7. Flapsaddle

    An old Arab proverb says: Make your words soft and sweet, for you may have to eat them. In an age of uninterrupted data acquisition, Clinton should have realized that her remarks about garnishing would become fixed and would be used against her.

    And I agree with her – something like that will happen regardless of what UHCS is imposed. That is one thing that the proponents of such a system tend to ignore – enforcement. Like SS, if it is universal there is going to be a mechanism for enforcement and there will be penalties for non-compliance.

    If anyone cares to harken back to the early days of the Clinton administration and the health-care cabal presided over by the FLOTUS, they should remember that this plan contained numerous penalties for those – both physicians and patients – who tried to operate outside of the system.

    Most sincerely,

    T. J. Flapsaddle