TO: Interested Parties
FR: The Obama Campaign
RE: Turning the Page on Secrecy, Calculation, and Caution
DA: Wednesday, October 31, 2007
At last night’s debate, Barack Obama demonstrated the real choice in this race. On issues from Social Security to Iran to being open with the America people about her record, Senator Clinton offered more of the same Washington political calculation and evasion that won’t bring the change America needs.
The “politics of hope” doesn’t mean hoping you don’t have to answer tough questions.
Her performance raised more questions than it answered:
* Twelve hours after the debate ended, the American people are still waiting for an answer on Senator Clinton’s position on providing illegal immigrants with drivers licenses. She didn’t answer the question in the debate and her campaign couldn’t answer it afterwards. [http://marcambinder.theatlantic.com/archives/2007/10/video_special_clintons_strateg.php]
* Clinton Demurred When Asked to Approve the Release of Her Records From the National Archives. When asked whether she would request that the National Archives allow the public to access emails, memorandum, and other communication between her and her husband before 2012, Clinton said, “Well, that's not my decision to make, and I don't believe that any president or first lady ever has. But, certainly, we're moving as quickly as our circumstances and the processes of the National Archives permits.” [Debate, 10/30/07]
* Clinton also claimed that all of the records from her health care task force had been released. However, according to Newsweek, “Some key papers from her health-care task force… remain locked away.” [Newsweek, 10/29/07]
· Clinton Refused to Answer Questions About the Circumstances Under Which She Would Attack Iran, Despite Being Asked Repeatedly; Focused on Diplomacy. When asked about her plan to deal with the threat posed by Iran, Clinton said, “I am not in favor of this rush for war, but I'm also not in favor of doing nothing...I prefer vigorous diplomacy.” Williams then asked her under what circumstances she would consider an attack on Iran justified. Clinton replied, “Well, first of all, we have to try diplomacy...I believe we should be engaged in diplomacy right now with the Iranians.” After Williams pointed out that she did not answer the question, Clinton said only, “I want to start diplomacy... [we need] a full court press on the diplomatic front.” [Debate, 10/30/07]
· Despite being repeatedly pressed by the moderators, Clinton never cleared up the discrepancy between her public refusal to discuss Social Security and her private discussion with Tod Bowman of Iowa. You can see Bowman’s endorsement of Obama by clicking HERE
Senator Clinton has clearly decided based on political calculation that her campaign strategy is to tell the American people as little as possible, avoid the difficult issues, and try to blur as many differences as possible. After last night’s debate, the choice is clear: Barack Obama is the kind of leader that will bring change we can believe in, stand up to the special interests, unite the country, and tell the American people not just what they want to hear, but what they need to know about the challenges we face. This is what the voters in Iowa, New Hampshire and the other early states are seeing every day. It is why Iowa is now a dead heat between Senators Obama and Clinton and why Obama is strengthening his position in New Hampshire.
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Marc Ambinder is a senior fellow at the USC Annenberg Center on Communication Leadership and Policy.