PORTSMOUTH, N.H. -- Hillary Clinton's campaign jabbed chief 2008 White House rival Barack Obama on Tuesday, accusing him of misstating her position favoring a phased redeployment of U.S. troops in Iraq.
"We are not going to allow Sen. Clinton's positions to be misrepresented," said Clinton spokesman Howard Wolfson as the campaign produced a memo providing seven public statements or votes the New York senator has made in favor of phasing in plans to draw down troop levels.
The Obama campaign did not back down.
The Democratic primary campaign is starting early and heating up as Obama and Clinton seek to define themselves and quickly push back. Obama said at a Sunday press conference in Iowa that he will have his campaign "know" the records of his rivals "so we can compare and contrast."
At issue is Clinton's strong retort to a statement Obama made to reporters while he was campaigning on Monday in New Hampshire.
Iraq is the defining issue at this opening stage of the 2008 presidential campaign and Clinton has had to defend the vote she made authorizing the war. Five of the eight senators running for president are proposing measures to use the authority of Congress to curb President Bush's ability to send more soldiers to Iraq.
Obama was asked if there was a "substantial difference" between his current approach to Iraq and Clinton's current approach on Iraq.
"I think the difference is -- and now again, I don't want to speak for her or her bill -- my understanding is that she calls for a cap on troop levels but does not begin a phased redeployment," Obama said.
"And so that's a pretty substantial difference. I think there's consensus among most Democrats that we shouldn't put more troops in, but I think where the American people are at and what I think good strategy dictates is that we begin the process of redeploying our troops."
On Tuesday, the Clinton campaign aggressively came back with a memo headlined "Fact check: Hillary has long supported phased redeployment."
On Jan. 17, at a press conference in the Senate radio-TV gallery, Clinton said, "We should be beginning a phased redeployment of U.S. troops as a way to put pressure on the Iraqi government to take responsibility for its own security and future," she said.
Obama spokesman Bill Burton said, "Only Barack Obama opposed the war in Iraq from the start and only Barack Obama has legislation that would, by force of law, begin a redeployment by May 1, 2007, and have all combat forces out of Iraq by March 31, 2008."