Top House Democrat denounces Clinton campaign tactics
WASHINGTON – “Scurrilous” and “disingenuous” were among the words a top Democrat in the U.S. House of Representatives used on Thursday to describe Hillary Clinton’s campaign tactics in her bid to defeat Barack Obama for their party’s presidential nomination.
House Democratic Whip James Clyburn, of South Carolina and the highest ranking black in Congress, also said he has heard speculation that Clinton is staying in the race only to try to derail Obama and pave the way for her to make another White House run in 2012.
“I heard something, the first time yesterday (in South Carolina), and I heard it on the (House) floor today, which is telling me there are African Americans who have reached the decision that the Clintons know that she can’t win this. But they’re hell-bound to make it impossible for Obama to win” in November, Clyburn told Reuters in an interview.
Obama holds a sizable lead in delegates won in state-nominating contests which could be hard for her to overcome.
The purported theory is that an Obama defeat in November against Republican presidential candidate John McCain would let Clinton make another presidential bid in four years, Clyburn said.
Clyburn has not yet declared whether he supports Clinton or Obama. But in January, he raised his concerns about the heated exchanges between the two campaigns before the South Carolina primary.
On Thursday, Clyburn took Clinton and surrogates to task, complaining that they want the popular votes in Michigan and Florida counted, even though both states violated party rules for the early scheduling of their nominating contests.
“I think it’s so disingenuous … (adviser James) Carville and Sen. Clinton were all on TV. I’ve seen them two or three times this week, talking about counting Florida and Michigan.”
Obama did not campaign in those states because the Democratic Party said Florida and Michigan wouldn’t be included in the formal tally for the nomination. “Her name was the only one on the ticket in Michigan and still 42, 43 percent of the vote was against her,” Clyburn said.
Still, Clyburn said “I don’t think she ought to drop out.”
But he added, “There’s a difference between dropping out and raising all this extraneous scurrilous stuff about the guy (Obama). Just run your campaign … you don’t have to drop out to be respectful of other people.”
- Photo credit: Reuters/Jonathan Ernst (Clyburn with presidential candidates at a debate in January)