LOS ANGELES, CALIF.—The Obama and Clinton camps returned to sharper rhetoric on Friday, after hitting the mute button at the Thursday debate.
*But first: Paul Bedard, who pens "Washington Whispers" at U.S. News & World Report, has an item about Barack Obama's exercise routine where I'm quoted about working out with Obama. LINK
* Obama, at a press conference at the Westin Bonaventure before taking off for New Mexico (no endorsement from Gov. Richardson, the trip is to talk economics in a Feb. 5 western state) said Clinton at the debate did not “adequately explain” how the U.S. got into Iraq. During the Hollywood debate, Clinton having to explain her vote authorizing the war was one of her weakest performances of the night; too much explaining. Obama ally Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) gets on a conference call soon to talk about the debate and Iraq.
*Turning to health care, Clinton's team, livid about a direct mail piece issued by the Obama campaign, held a conference call in the morning with health care experts condemning what they called “GOP attack tactics” in their mailer.
The print pamphlet showed a picture of a young couple at a table, evoking—for those around for the anti-Clinton health care plan fight in 1993-- a couple named Harry and Louise who were effective in helping raise concerns over “Hillarycare.” Obama had a shouted question at him at the end of his press conference, as he was walking out. Later, Obama advisor David Axelrod said the Obama mailings were based on “fact" and Clintons' stuff was "fabrication." Shown a picture of the couple from the mailing, Axelrod said the picture was "standard" and were not evocative of Harry and Louise.
*Obama wins MoveOn.org endorsement.
*With John McCain looking more like the probable GOP nominee, Obama said he was a better pick than Clinton because he could compete with McCain for independents.
*McCain stumps in suburban Chicago later today. Obama is increasingly mentioning him. “I have consistently gotten sizeable independent votes. And I actually think that independents are predisposed towards voting Democratic in this election because they are tired of George Bush. I think John McCain has enormous biographical appeal as a consequence of service to our country. And In no ways diminish or sell short that appeal. But the fact is id that he is tethered himself to bush policies, both foreign and domestic, and I think the American people, particularly independents, are looking for a different approach.”
*Obama also made this boast: A reason he should be the Democratic nominee is ”I’m confident I will get her votes if I am the nominee. It’s not clear that she would get the votes I got if she were the nominee. And that I think illustrates the potential difference in how we would run our campaigns.”