Posted: January 19, 2008 3:49 PM
Obama, Clinton Trade Barbs in Nevada Campaign Blitz
With one win apiece, Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are seeking a momentum boost from Nevada’s earliest-ever caucuses Saturday headed toward next weekend’s Democratic South Carolina primary.
The rivals dueled across the Silver State Friday in a final burst of campaigning, but the race appeared exceedingly close — just like Iowa and New Hampshire.
Among Democrats in Nevada, polls show Obama, an Illinois senator, and Clinton, a New York senator and wife of former President Bill Clinton, in a tight duel.
Nevada’s Democratic Party results are not expected until late Saturday afternoon.
The race is complicated by uncertainties about turnout, given that only 9,000 Democrats took part in Nevada’s caucuses in 2004 and no one knows how many will show up this time, the Associated Press reported.
“I think we’re going to do pretty well,” Obama said during a visit to a casino hotel. “I think it will be a close race.”
In Nevada, Obama and Clinton have clashed over voting in casino hotels on the Las Vegas Strip — special caucus sites ultimately approved by a federal judge.
Minorities, led by a booming Hispanic population, make up about one-third of potential Nevada voters. Clinton, who would be the first woman president, asked Obama Friday to denounce Spanish-language radio ads accusing her of disrespecting Hispanics.
The ads, run by a union backing Obama, were “shameless and offensive,” she said. The Obama camp said it had no control over the ads and discouraged outside ad campaigns.
Politico reported that President Bill Clinton, speaking at a Vegas YMCA on Friday, made more charges against Obama and claimed to have, with daughter Chelsea, personally witnessed voter suppression by the Las Vegas’ Culinary Union.
“There was a representative of the organization following along behind us going up to everybody who said [they supported his wife’s campaign], saying ‘if you’re not gonna vote for our guy were gonna give you a schedule tomorrow so you can’t be there,’” Clinton was reported as saying. “So, is this the new politics? I haven’t seen anything like that in America in 35 years. So I will say it again — they think they’re better than you.”
As a Las Vegas Review-Journal poll showed Clinton leading the field Friday, Obama unleashed one of his fiercest attacks on the senator, saying she stole his economic stimulus idea of a $250 tax cut for workers and a $250 bonus to seniors on Social Security, the Chicago Tribune reported.
“We were criticized by some in their camp, saying that’s not the right way to go,” Obama said. “Now, apparently, she agrees with me.”
But a Clinton spokesman said she released her stimulus plan first, adding, “Clearly the long days on the campaign trail are causing Sen. Obama to mix things up.”
In turn, Obama came under fire for recently praising Republican President Ronald Reagan for his providing a “fundamentally different path because the country was ready for it.”
Democratic candidate John Edwards said he would never use Reagan as an example of change because he “did extraordinary damage to the middle class and working people.”
An Obama spokesman said the Illinois senator was talking about conditions needed for change.
Hillary Clinton is scheduled to attend an event with voters in Las Vegas at 4 p.m. EST.