"I'm not going to paint a caricature"

Obama, going after Edwards, explains why he's taking it easy on Clinton.

By Tim Grieve
November 9, 2007 11:10PM (UTC)
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Memo to the John Edwards campaign: Maybe it's time for you to start accusing Barack Obama of abandoning the "politics of hope."

Hillary Clinton's campaign has complainedrepeatedly that Obama has abandoned the "politics of hope" by going after her. So what did Obama have to say about Clinton Thursday during an on-the-bus interview with the Washington Post?


Among other things, this:

"I want to campaign the same way I govern, which is to respond directly and forcefully with the truth. That means I'm not going to paint a caricature of Sen. Clinton. I think she's a smart, able person. I think anybody who tries to paint her as all negative is engaging in caricature, and when you start slipping into that mode, it's hard to come back."

Obama argued that he has a better shot than Clinton does at redrawing the red-and-blue political map that stands between Democrats and the White House. But if he had anything harsher to say about Clinton, it's not reflected in the account written by Dan Balz and Shailagh Murray.


As for Edwards? That's a whole different story. Obama said that Edwards has reinvented himself for 2008. The former North Carolina senator has said the next president must be willing to fight those interests. Obama suggested Edwards had reconstituted himself since his last campaign. "John wasn't this raging populist four years ago," he said. "He certainly wasn't when he ran for the U.S. Senate. He was in the U.S. Senate for six years, and as far as I can tell wasn't taking on the lobbyists and special interests. It's a matter of, 'Do you walk the walk that you talk?'"

Want more? "Let me put it this way," Obama said. "If John wants to make the comparison between the work I did as a community organizer -- or as a civil rights attorney or as a state senator taking on special interests -- to him working as a trial lawyer making millions of dollars, I'm happy to have that discussion."

A question for the Obama camp: How is dismissing someone as a trial lawyer different from "painting a caricature" of him?

Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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2008 Elections Barack Obama Hillary Rodham Clinton John Edwards War Room