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Clinton hammers Obama on national security issues in run-up to key big state primaries

Clinton hammers Obama on national security issues in run-up to key big state primaries

Hillary Rodham Clinton sharpened her criticism of rival Barack Obama on national security issues as she and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, waged a campaign blitz in the two big states she needs to win to keep her Democratic presidential bid afloat.
Ohio and Texas hold pivotal primaries Tuesday, along with the smaller states of Vermont and Rhode Island. A total of 370 nominating convention delegates are at stake in the four states.
For the second straight day Clinton made national security the focus of her closing argument to voters, seeking to portray Obama as inexperienced and untested.
"His entire campaign is based on a speech he gave at an anti-war rally in 2002," Clinton told reporters aboard her campaign plane Saturday as she flew between events in San Antonio and Fort Worth, Texas. "The speech was not followed up by action, which is part of a pattern that we have seen repeatedly."
Obama fired back at a rally in Providence, Rhode Island, telling supporters: "Real change isn't voting for George Bush's war in Iraq and then telling the American people it was actually a vote for more diplomacy when you start running for president."
Clinton has lost 11 straight contests, and many strategists argue that she must win the big tests on Tuesday to continue. Her strategists have begun to dispute that thinking and carve out a scenario for continuing if results in Texas and Ohio are disappointing.
Polls have shown Texas to be a virtual dead heat and the outcome could hinge on which campaign does a better job of getting backers to the polls. Clinton has a lead, albeit a shrinking one, in Ohio and the same dynamic is in place.
She opened her weekend by rallying backers at a training session in San Antonio aimed at preparing activists for the incredibly complex primary system, widely known as the "Texas two-step." Two-thirds of the delegates at stake in Texas will be picked during a traditional primary. That is followed Tuesday night by a round of caucuses in the state's 8,000 precincts where the other third will be allocated.
"This is one of the most momentous decisions any Texan could make," Clinton told key activists as she launched a last-weekend blitz. "You are, in effect, hiring the next president of the United States."
Bill Clinton and daughter Chelsea were campaigning in Ohio Saturday on her behalf. At a rally in Kirtland, Ohio, just east of Cleveland, on Saturday, the former president said his wife is the only Democrat in the race who has a plan to create jobs in the industrial state that badly needs an economic boost.
He added that his wife will be a caring president who won't forget their concerns.
"Who is most likely to remember the look on your face and the concern in your heart after the election is over? You should say yes to Hillary," he said.
Hillary Clinton planned to fly to Ohio Saturday night to kick off an "88 counties in 88 hours" bus marathon through that state, stretching into Monday morning.
The New York senator will then return to Texas for a televised town hall meeting, and she has purchased airtime to broadcast it across the state. She plans to await results which could decide her political future in Ohio Tuesday night.
Speaking with reporters, Clinton said she will continue to hammer on the distinctions she has drawn with Obama on national security.
"It's a defining issue and it's one that the voters of Texas and America deserve to think about," said Clinton.
Obama has accused her of trying to scare voters. Her campaign began airing a TV ad Friday that asks voters who they want to answer the phone in the middle of the night at the White House when there's a national security emergency somewhere in the world.
But Clinton said presidential candidates must assure voters they understand security issues, particularly in a campaign against Republican nominee-in-waiting John McCain, the veteran Arizona senator and former prisoner of war.
"Everybody knows that John McCain will make this election about national security, that's a given," said Clinton. "If Senator Obama is unwilling to engage me on national security how is he going to engage Senator McCain?"
Obama stopped in Rhode Island on his way from campaigning in Texas to events in Ohio. He spoke six days after Clinton came to the same Providence arena and depicted Obama as naive and unrealistic about dealing with tough issues like health care reform and global warming.
In his remarks, Obama challenged his rival's judgment and commitment on trade and foreign policy.
Obama asserted that Clinton had changed her position to oppose the North American Free Trade Agreement only after deciding to run for president. The Illinois senator also depicted himself as having better judgment to deal with a national security emergencies, renewing his criticism of Clinton's October 2002 vote to authorize President George W. Bush to use military force in Iraq.
Polls show Clinton with a lead in Rhode Island. The Rhode Island primary offers 21 Democratic delegates _ compared with 141 for Ohio, 193 for Texas and 15 for Vermont.
Obama has announced he will spend Tuesday night in Texas. A win in Texas would allow him to counter the Clinton campaign's argument that although he has won more states, she has carried the big states like California, New York and New Jersey.
Obama has been leading the former first lady in the popular vote, committed delegates and fundraising. Senior Clinton strategist Howard Wolfson said that a loss for Obama in even one of the four states voting Tuesday would indicate Democrats have developed a case of "buyer's remorse."
"It would show that Senator Obama is having trouble closing the deal with Democrats," Wolfson said.
Clinton, a second-term senator, is aiming to become the first woman president, while Obama, a first-term senator, hopes to be the first black U.S. president.
Obama has 1,385 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. He has a total of 1,014 of the 1,191 delegates needed to clinch the nomination at the Republican convention in September. Preacher-turned-politician Mike Huckabee trails with 257 delegates.
McCain needs to rally support from the key Republican constituency of conservative Christians especially in southern states. Huckabee, who has been the favorite among these evangelical voters, has refused to quit the race and campaigned Saturday in Texas.
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Associated Press Writers M.R. Kropko in Kirtland, Ohio and Mike Glover in San Antonio, Texas, contributed to this report.


Updated : 2021-04-23 08:23 GMT+08:00