Reporting for duty: When she was far ahead in the polls, Hillary Clinton enjoyed life above the fray and successfully dismissed attacks by her opponents as petty negativity. Now that she’s slipped somewhat, the gloves are starting to come off.
Hillary Clinton’s New Hampshire campaign co-chair issued a sleazy attack on Barack Obama on Wednesday, which he tried to pass off as an exploration of “openings for Republican dirty tricks.” It’s a tactic we’re likely to see more of as the candidates jockey for position and one-time front runners get desperate.
In particular, Billy Shaheen claimed to be worried about Obama’s candor about drug use when he was young: “It’ll be, ‘When was the last time? Did you ever give drugs to anyone? Did you sell them to anyone?’ ”
Among his concerns about Obama as the nominee, he said in an interview here today, is that his background is so relatively unknown and that the Republicans would do their best to unearth negative aspects of it, or concoct mistruths about it. Shaheen, a lawyer and influential state power broker, mentioned as an example Obama’s use of cocaine and marijuana as a young man, which Obama has been open about in his memoir and on the trail.
“The Republicans are not going to give up without a fight ... and one of the things they’re certainly going to jump on is his drug use,” said Shaheen, the husband of former N.H. governor Jeanne Shaheen, who is planning to run for the Senate next year. Billy Shaheen contrasted Obama’s openness about his past drug use—which Obama mentioned again at a recent campaign appearance in New Hampshire—with the approach taken by George W. Bush in 1999 and 2000, when he ruled out questions about his behavior when he was “young and irresponsible.”
Shaheen said Obama’s candor on the subject would “open the door” to further questions. “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.”