Clinton, Obama camps reportedly still feuding

A fight is said to be brewing between the former rivals -- it focuses, in part, on the content of Bill Clinton's convention speech.

Published August 25, 2008 2:57PM (EDT)

The Politico is out today with the kind of story Democrats had hoped to avoid as the convention begins here in Denver -- a report of continued fighting between representatives of Barack Obama and the Clintons.

"One flashpoint is the assigned speech topic for former president Bill Clinton, who is scheduled to speak Wednesday night, when the convention theme is 'Securing America's Future' ... The former president is disappointed, associates said, because he is eager to speak about the economy and more broadly about Democratic ideas," Politico's John F. Harris and Mike Allen report. "This is an especially sore point for Bill Clinton, people close to him say, because among many grievances he has about the campaign Obama waged against his wife is a belief that the candidate poor-mouthed the political and policy successes of his two terms."

Harris and Allen report that there's some unhappiness from the Obama side too, that the Obama camp is complaining that Hillary Clinton's "team continues to act like she and Bill Clinton hold leverage ... One senior Obama supporter said the Clinton associates negotiating on her behalf act like 'Japanese soldiers in the South Pacific still fighting after the war is over.'"

The two teams have issued a joint statement denying that there's tension between them. It reads:

We understand that some in the news media are more interested in reporting the rumor of controversy than the fact of unity. The fact is that our teams are working closely to ensure a successful convention and will continue to do so. Senator and President Clinton fully support the Obama/Biden ticket and look forward to addressing the convention and the nation on the urgency of victory this Fall. Anyone saying anything else doesn't know what they're talking about. Period.

Thus far, though, political reporters are skeptical about this. In a blog post, Time's Karen Tumulty wrote, "On this one, my hunch is Politico is right. I recall that in 2000, [Al] Gore aides told me they had no more delicate convention task than telling the Clintons that they wanted them to make an appearance and leave."

And the Atlantic's Marc Ambinder writes, "Sources back up the Politico to a point: things are getting a little hairy as the reality of the convention sets in. Obama aides acknowledge that there [have] been some recent bumps on the road but insist that reports of boiled over anger are way overplayed." He also adds another interesting tidbit: "Another point of tension, sources say, is that the Obama campaign is aware that Mark Penn is advising Bill Clinton on the speech. Obama's campaign doesn't like Mark Penn."

By Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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