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Low Blow? Clinton Camp Hits Obama on Past Drug Use, Then Backs Off


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Campaign Co-Chair Issues Apology for Remarks

Clinton Campaign Official Asserts Youthful Obama Drug Use Makes Him a Target



Dec. 12, 2007


The Democratic presidential race took on a decidedly nasty and personal turn Wednesday, with the New Hampshire co-chair for Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-NY, raising the youthful drug use of her chief rival for the nomination, Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill.


Hours after the release of a CNN/WMUR poll showing Obama in a statistical tie with Clinton for the first time among New Hampshire Democratic voters, Billy Shaheen – husband of the former governor and an influential Democrat in the Granite State who is a constant presence by Clinton's side whenever she campaigns there -- told The Washington Post that should Obama get the Democratic nomination, "one of the things Republicans are certainly going to jump on is his drug use."



In his 1996 memoir, "Dreams From My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance," Obama wrote candidly about his high school-era drug use: "Pot had helped, and booze; maybe a little blow when you could afford it. Not smack, though."


Shaheen said Obama's having been so open -- as opposed to then-Gov. George W. Bush, who refused to detail his past drug use during his 2000 presidential campaign -- will "open the door to further queries on the matter.


"It'll be, 'When was the last time? Did you ever give drugs to anyone? Did you sell them to anyone?'" Shaheen said. "There are so many openings for Republican dirty tricks. It's hard to overcome."


Obama campaign manager David Plouffe called the attack "desperate," and referred to a Clinton campaign attack on Obama -- who alludes to Clinton having planned for years, if not decades for her run -- for having told his kindergarten teacher he wanted to be president some day.


"Hillary Clinton said attacking other Democrats is the 'fun part' of this campaign, and now she's moved from Barack Obama's kindergarten years to his teenage years in an increasingly desperate effort to slow her slide in the polls," Plouffe said.


"Sen. Clinton's campaign is recycling old news that Barack Obama has been candid about in a book he wrote years ago, and he's talked about the lessons he's learned from these mistakes with young people all across the country."



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