Jabbing At Hillary

First, Barack Obama, speaking last night in Portsmouth, New Hampshire (per CBS News's Maria Gavrilovic)...

This argument that somehow well, you know, Obama, for whatever reason I keep on defying this notion that somehow the American people are not ready for me. That just is not borne out. And right now among all Democratic nominees or Democratic candidates I do better in a general election match ups than the other candidates. And this argument is being pushed by the way by a candidate who starts off with a 47% disapproval ratings. You know, so, I’m not going to mention names but I mean the notion that a viability or an electability argument is being made by somebody who starts off with almost half the country not being able to vote for (pause and laughter) them doesn’t make sense. (someone in the audience yells, welcome to American) But you know in the end don’t vote your fears, I’m stealing this line from my buddy Deval Patrick who stole a whole bunch of lines from me when he ran for the governorship but it’s the right one, don’t vote your fears, vote your aspirations. Vote what you believe. (applause)

Obama's aides have been making this argument privately for eight months, but it's the first time I've ever heard Obama say it himself. The wrote Clinton campaign response -- and having asked Mark Penn this question many times, I can recite it my heart is that "by the time of the convention, both the Republican and Democratic nominees will be equally as polarizing." History bears that out, but the premise of Obama's campaign is that he would be different. As he told an audience of independent voters in Exeter, New Hampshire today, "there will not be a litmus test in my administration." He meant that his approach to problem solving would be collaborative and he would select experts and policy-makers without regard to policy. In Congress, though, Clinton has plenty of bipartisan credentials on her own.

And Bill Richardson called the New York Times unprompted to accuse Hillary Clinton of flip-flopping on how fast she'd be able to withdraw troops from Iraq.

“Senator Clinton’s comments are a stunning flip-flop — she’s been saying she would keep troops in Iraq for five years, until 2013, and now she comes up with an inconsistent, incredible turnaround,” Mr. Richardson said.

As the Times notes, these are not the comments of a vice presidential wannabe. A Richardson aide points out to me that Richardson is the only candidate on the air now with an Iraq war ad, although he would not say how big the buy was.