Voice of America 11-16-07 Clinton Counters Attacks by Democratic Presidential Rivals

Voice of America
Clinton Counters Attacks by Democratic Presidential Rivals
By Jim Malone
The leading Democratic presidential contender, Senator Hillary Clinton of New
York, is getting more aggressive in countering attacks from her rivals for the party
nomination. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more on the 2008
U.S. presidential campaign from Washington.
In the latest Democratic debate broadcast by CNN, Senator Barack Obama of
Illinois said voters want straight answers to tough questions, something he said
Hillary Clinton has failed to do.
Another rival, former Senator John Edwards of North Carolina, said Democrats
looking for a candidate to bring change to Washington should not consider
Senator Clinton.
"She says she will bring change while she continues to defend a system that
does not work, that is rigged and is corrupt," he said.
But this time, Clinton fired back. She questioned Obama's proposal for health
care reform and accused Edwards of mounting the type of attack that
Republicans have employed against her.
"We are Democrats, and we are trying to nominate the very best person we can
to win, and I do not mind taking hits on my record and issues, but when
somebody starts throwing mud, at least we can hope it is accurate and not right
out of the Republican playbook," she said.
But her Democratic challengers are not backing away from a more
confrontational approach to Clinton, who continues to lead the national polls in
the race for the party's nomination.
Obama had this response to Clinton when she criticized his reform plan for the
Social Security pension system.
"This is the kind of thing I would expect from Mitt Romney or Rudy Giuliani,
where we start playing with numbers in order to try to make a point," he said.
Political analysts expect the clashes among Democrats to become even more
intense as the party primaries draw near. Iowa will begin the presidential
selection process January 3 for both major parties, and at the moment Clinton,
Obama and Edwards are engaged in a tight three-way battle among the
Larry Sabato directs the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia.
"This is now a real race, and that is why this debate, I think, is not going to have
any major impact long term. I think it is a real race in Iowa," he noted.
Most experts continue to regard Clinton as the clear frontrunner for the
Democratic Party nomination. They also believe the best chance for her rivals to
stop her may be with an early upset victory in Iowa.
Steffen Schmidt is a professor of political science at Iowa State University.
Schmidt says voters there are debating whether Hillary Clinton would be the
strongest Democratic candidate in next year's election.
"Her negatives are very high, and so even though she is doing incredibly well, a
lot of Democrats are saying, yes, but can she beat a Republican? And so in
Iowa, if there is any doubt about her invincibility, it will at least allow for another
discussion among Democrats before they go and vote in the primaries about
this," he explained.
While the Democratic race seems to be getting more attention of late, there is
also a furious battle underway for the Republican Party's presidential nomination.
Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani continues to hold a lead in national
polls. But former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney leads among
Republican voters in the early contest states of Iowa and New Hampshire.