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On Eve of Crucial Primary, Clinton Ad Invokes bin Laden

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/22/us/politics/22campaign.html?_r=1&ref=politics&oref=slogin On Eve of Crucial Primary, Clinton Ad Invokes bin Laden By JEFF
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 21, 2008
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      http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/22/us/politics/22campaign.html?_r=1&ref=politics&oref=slogin

      On Eve of Crucial Primary, Clinton Ad Invokes bin
      Laden

      By JEFF ZELENY and JOHN M. BRODER
      Published: April 22, 2008

      BLUE BELL, Pa. — The six-week Pennsylvania primary
      drew to a contentious finish Monday as Senator Hillary
      Rodham Clinton invoked images of Pearl Harbor and
      Osama bin Laden in a television advertisement that
      questioned Senator Barack Obama’s ability to lead in a
      crisis.

      As she sought to spark a comeback in the Democratic
      nominating contest, Mrs. Clinton warned voters not to
      “take a leap of faith or have any guesswork” when they
      cast ballots Tuesday.

      The Obama campaign accused her of employing “the
      politics of fear.”

      With 158 pledged delegates at stake in Pennsylvania,
      the largest state remaining on the party’s primary
      calendar, the candidates raced from Scranton to
      Pittsburgh to Philadelphia — and a smattering of
      suburbs along the way — to rally their supporters and
      win over a dwindling lot of undecided voters.

      While Mr. Obama spent nearly twice as much on
      television advertising in the state as Mrs. Clinton in
      the final days of the race, she broadcast a new
      commercial that used historic images from critical
      moments in the country’s past to ask voters whom they
      could trust in the White House. It did not mention Mr.
      Obama, but closed with “Who do you think has what it
      takes?”

      Mr. Obama, after three days of criticizing Mrs.
      Clinton with some of his sharpest language of the
      campaign, did not directly engage her. But his
      campaign quickly responded with an advertisement of
      its own that asked voters: “Who in times of challenge
      will unite us — not use fear and calculation to divide
      us?”

      Pennsylvania has become a major battleground in the
      fight for the Democratic presidential nomination, with
      the future of Mrs. Clinton’s campaign most likely
      resting on the outcome. Even a wide victory by her
      would not overcome her deficit in pledged delegates or
      in the popular vote of states that have held
      nominating contests, but it would ensure that the race
      moved on to contests in Indiana and North Carolina in
      two weeks, on May 6.

      As she spoke Monday in her father’s hometown,
      Scranton, Mrs. Clinton reinforced the message of her
      advertisement, arguing that Mr. Obama was untested. “I
      don’t want you to take a leap of faith or have any
      guesswork” about the next president, she said. “We’ve
      had enough of that,” she added.

      Her commercial was the first in which a Democratic
      candidate had used Osama bin Laden in the presidential
      race, although Republicans, including Rudolph W.
      Giuliani, have done so. In her commercial, Mr. bin
      Laden, the mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks,
      is featured along with grainy images of the stock
      market crash of 1929, the attack on Pearl Harbor, the
      fall of the Berlin Wall and Hurricane Katrina.

      In an interview Monday with Larry King on CNN , Mrs.
      Clinton said the advertisement addressed the reality
      “that the new president will inherit some of the most
      dangerous and difficult decisions that any president
      has had to make in a very long time.”

      “I want people to think seriously about leadership,
      because that’s what I’m offering in this campaign,”
      she said. “I think I’m ready.”

      Bill Burton, an Obama spokesman, responded that Mrs.
      Clinton was invoking Mr. bin Laden “to score political
      points.” He added, “We already have a president who
      plays the politics of fear, and we don’t need
      another.”

      As Obama supporters worked to drum up support, they
      said they were still hearing rumors that Mr. Obama was
      Muslim and questions about his patriotism. At an
      evening campaign stop, a voter asked Mr. Obama how he
      could allay such concerns.

      “It frustrates me that people would even have a
      question about something like that, because they don’t
      ask the same questions of some of the other
      candidates,” said Mr. Obama, who told a story about an
      American flag he received at the funeral of his
      grandfather, a World War II veteran. “If they don’t
      vote for me, it should be because they think Senator
      Clinton or Senator McCain have better ideas. It
      shouldn’t be because they think that I am less
      patriotic or because they question what my religious
      faith is.”

      The Clinton campaign manager, Maggie Williams, pleaded
      for volunteers Monday to help work phone banks and
      perform other get-out-the-vote tasks.

      “To put it as simply as I can, more calls equal more
      votes,” Ms. Williams wrote in an e-mail message to
      supporters.

      The central battlegrounds included Pittsburgh, where
      both candidates stopped Monday, and the Philadelphia
      suburbs, including Blue Bell, where Mr. Obama arrived
      Monday afternoon.

      He sat beneath a blossoming dogwood tree, surrounded
      by about three dozen people who had been invited by
      the campaign, and took questions about the economy,
      education and foreign policy. The pleasant image was
      intended to counteract the attacks he had used in
      recent days against Mrs. Clinton.

      David Axelrod, the chief strategist to Mr. Obama, told
      reporters on the campaign plane Monday evening that he
      believed it was “very difficult” for Mrs. Clinton to
      win the nomination. But he conceded that it was likely
      she would win Pennsylvania.

      “It’s one more stop along the way,” Mr. Axelrod said.
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