The highest-ranking African-American in Congress has called campaign tactics by Hillary Rodham Clinton and her husband “scurrilous” and “disingenous” and says there is a growing belief that the Clintons are trying intentionally to ruin Democratic frontrunner Barack Obama’s chances for a victory in November.
Why? Because doing so would set the stage for a Clinton comeback in 2012.
Writes Richard Cowan at Reuters:
“Scurrilous” and “disingenuous” were among the words a top Democrat in the U.S. House of Representatives used on Thursday to describe Hillary Clinton’s campaign tactics in her bid to defeat Barack Obama for their party’s presidential nomination.
House Democratic Whip James Clyburn, of South Carolina and the highest ranking black in Congress, also said he has heard speculation that Clinton is staying in the race only to try to derail Obama and pave the way for her to make another White House run in 2012.
rtr1w3w5.jpg“I heard something, the first time yesterday (in South Carolina), and I heard it on the (House) floor today, which is telling me there are African Americans who have reached the decision that the Clintons know that she can’t win this. But they’re hell-bound to make it impossible for Obama to win” in November, Clyburn told Reuters in an interview.
Obama holds a sizable lead in delegates won in state-nominating contests which could be hard for her to overcome.
The purported theory is that an Obama defeat in November against Republican presidential candidate John McCain would let Clinton make another presidential bid in four years, Clyburn said.
Clyburn has not yet declared whether he supports Clinton or Obama. But in January, he raised his concerns about the heated exchanges between the two campaigns before the South Carolina primary.
On Thursday, Clyburn took Clinton and surrogates to task, complaining that they want the popular votes in Michigan and Florida counted, even though both states violated party rules for the early scheduling of their nominating contests.
“I think it’s so disingenuous … (adviser James) Carville and Sen. Clinton were all on TV. I’ve seen them two or three times this week, talking about counting Florida and Michigan.”
Obama did not campaign in those states because the Democratic Party said Florida and Michigan wouldn’t be included in the formal tally for the nomination. “Her name was the only one on the ticket in Michigan and still 42, 43 percent of the vote was against her,” Clyburn said.
Still, Clyburn said “I don’t think she ought to drop out.”
But he added, “There’s a difference between dropping out and raising all this extraneous scurrilous stuff about the guy (Obama). Just run your campaign … you don’t have to drop out to be respectful of other people.”
Rep. Clyburn expanded on his beliefs in an interview with The New York Times:
One of the nation’s most influential African-American political leaders sharply criticized former President Bill Clinton on Thursday afternoon for what he called his “bizarre” conduct during the Democratic primary campaign.
The black leader, Representative James E. Clyburn, an undeclared superdelegate from South Carolina and the third-ranking Democrat in the House, said “black people are incensed over all of this,” referring to statements Mr. Clinton has made in the course of the heated race between Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama.
Black leaders widely criticized Mr. Clinton after he equated the eventual victory of Mr. Obama in the South Carolina primary in January to that of the Rev. Jesse Jackson in the 1988 primary, a parallel that many took as an effort to diminish Mr. Obama’s success in the campaign.
In a radio interview in Philadelphia on Monday, Mr. Clinton defended his remarks and said the Obama campaign had “played the race card on me” by making an issue of them.
In an interview with The New York Times late Thursday, Mr. Clyburn said Mr. Clinton’s conduct in this campaign had caused what might be an irreparable breach between Mr. Clinton and an African-American constituency that once revered him.
“When he was going through his impeachment problems, it was the black community that bellied up to the bar,” Mr. Clyburn said. “I think black folks feel strongly that this is a strange way for President Clinton to show his appreciation.”
Mr. Clyburn added that there appeared to be an almost unanimous view among African-Americans that Mr. and Mrs. Clinton were committed to doing everything they possibly could to damage Mr. Obama to a point that he could never win in the general election.