Hillary Clinton said Friday she must respond in kind to attacks from rival Barack Obama even though she’d rather keep the race for the Democratic presidential nomination focused on their differences on public policy issues.
"I try not to attack first, but I have to defend myself — I do have to counterpunch," Clinton told NBC’s "Today Show."
What’s distressing is that, in today’s climate, it’ll probably work with much of the electorate. Publius calls it "the rube strategy":
But still, she and her campaign keep harping on this — dishonestly. What’s so infuriating is that, in doing so, they assume their audience is too ignorant to learn the truth. It’s not so much that they’re attacking Obama – after all, that’s politics. It’s that Clinton’s attacks illustrate a deep contempt for voters. Call it “the rube strategy” – we’ll say what we want and most people will be too ignorant to ever figure out the difference.
UPDATE: Then again, maybe it’s backfiring….
UPDATE: And then yet again, it must be working because the Clinton campaign is going to keep at it:
After three weeks of nearly nonstop campaigning, set off by Mrs. Clinton’s third-place finish in the Iowa caucuses, Mr. Clinton has shown as much ability as his wife — or even more — to stir public and news media skepticism about Mr. Obama’s position on Iraq and his message of nonpartisan leadership, Clinton advisers say.
Mr. Clinton is deliberately trying to play bad cop against Mr. Obama, campaign officials say, and is keenly aware that a flash of anger or annoyance will draw even more media and public attention to his arguments. He will continue campaigning full-time for Mrs. Clinton after South Carolina in states with primaries on Feb. 5 where he is especially popular, like Arkansas, California and New York, they say.
They also see benefits in Mr. Clinton’s drawing the ire of the Obama camp, predicting that there will be a voter backlash against Mr. Obama if the former president looks like a victim in the cut-and-thrust of the race.