Alexa

Obama accuses Clinton of scare tactics ahead of pivotal Democratic contests

Obama accuses Clinton of scare tactics ahead of pivotal Democratic contests

Hillary Rodham Clinton portrayed herself in a stark new ad as the leader voters want on the phone when a crisis occurs in the middle of the night, drawing criticism from Barack Obama that she is trying to scare the American public as the Democratic presidential rivals head into must-win races next week.
Clinton's commercial features images of sleeping children and suggests that voters would be safer with her in charge when a crisis happens "when your children are safe and asleep." The ad was designed to appeal to women voters _ a core bloc Clinton needs in order to salvage her faltering campaign in the March 4 races in Texas and Ohio.
In a lightning response, Obama parodied her ad with one of his own _ the same ominously ringing phone, the sleeping children, the mood lighting, even the same introduction.
The Obama ad intones:
"In a dangerous world, it's judgment that matters."
Obama argued that when Clinton had her "red phone moment," as he put it in a speech earlier in the day, she voted in the Senate for the war in Iraq, while he stood against the war from the start.
Clinton referred to Obama's new commercial during a rally in San Antonio, Texas, on Friday night, noting that he's neglecting real duties.
"He was given an important responsibility in the Senate to chair a committee with responsibility for NATO," said Clinton. "He didn't hold one substantive meeting."
Obama's string of 11 victories since the Feb. 5 "Super Tuesday" contests has raised questions about the viability of Clinton's candidacy. Some observers say she must win the Tuesday contests to remain competitive, although aides were taking a new tack Friday in suggesting that if Obama loses one of the March 4 contests it suggests voters' interest in him is waning.
The four contests, which also include Rhode Island and Vermont, offer a total of 370 delegates.
Clinton's foreboding ad prompted an immediate denunciation from Obama, who said it is meant to scare people. Clinton later told a rally, "I don't think Texans scare very easily."
Clinton, a second-term New York senator and former first lady, is casting herself as the candidate with the years of service needed to take command on her first day in the White House. Obama, a first-term senator who hopes to be the first black U.S. president, is seeking to chip away at those arguments by suggesting he would have superior judgment.
Underscoring Obama's argument was an endorsement Friday from Sen. Jay Rockefeller, the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee and a superdelegate with a vote at the party's nominating convention this summer.
"Barack Obama is the most qualified person _ Democrat or Republican _ to lead our country in the face of enormous challenges, the very real threat of terrorism, economic uncertainty, and instability at home and abroad," Rockefeller said in a statement.
Presumptive Republican nominee John McCain and even President George W. Bush have seized on Obama's lack of experience, trying to portray him as a smooth talker who is naive about international affairs. On Friday, McCain took on both Democrats, saying Obama and Clinton's expressed desire to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement would jeopardize crucial military support from Canada.
A Fox News poll released Friday showed Obama moving into a narrow lead of 48 percent to Clinton's 45 percent in Texas, but that fell within the margin of sampling error of plus or minus 4 percentage points. The poll, conducted Feb. 26-28, showed Obama with a large edge among white men, blacks and younger voters, while Clinton leads among women, Hispanics and the oldest voters.
But the Fox survey found Clinton holding on to her narrowing lead in Ohio with 46 percent to Obama's 38 percent. Clinton was leading among women, whites, less educated and lower earning voters, and people over 45, while cutting into Obama's usual large margin among men and the college-educated.
While Texas and Ohio are pivotal for Clinton, Obama said Thursday that if he comes out of the four races Tuesday still leading Clinton by 100-150 pledged delegates, he would go to the convention with the most pledged delegates "and believe that we should be the nominee."
Clinton's husband, former President Bill Clinton, has said that his wife must win both Texas and Ohio to keep her campaign to be the first woman U.S. president alive, a view reflected widely among political analysts.
But, the former first lady's advisers said Friday that if Obama loses any of Tuesday's primaries it would show Democrats are having second thoughts about him.
In an e-mail and conference call to reporters, Clinton's campaign sought to raise the stakes for Obama and also laid the groundwork to keep her campaign alive if the results are disappointing.
A loss for Obama in even one of the four states Tuesday would indicate Democrats have developed a case of "buyer's remorse," Clinton strategist Howard Wolfson said. "It would show that Senator Obama is having trouble closing the deal with Democrats."
Obama has 1,383 delegates to Clinton's 1,276. A total of 2,025 are needed to secure the Democratic nomination at the party's convention in late August.
The Republican race is considered settled in favor of McCain, a senator and former Vietnam prisoner of war. He has a total of 1,014 of the 1,191 delegates needed to clinch the nomination at the Republican convention in September. Mike Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor, trails with 257 delegates.
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Associated Press Writers Mike Glover in Waco, Texas, and Tom Raum in Houston contributed to this report.