Saturday, January 05, 2008

Obama Under Attack From Rivals
Barbara Ferguson, Arab News —

WASHINGTON, 6 January 2008 — As Arab News went to press, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton were getting ready to clash face-to-face for the first time since he threw her campaign into turmoil.

On Thursday night, Obama punctured Hillary’s front-runner status with a convincing win in Iowa as he sought to become America’s first black president. Should Hillary win, she would become the country’s first female president.

Days before the second leg of the US presidential candidates’ selection marathon in New Hampshire, the rivals will trade shots as surviving Democratic and Republican hopefuls take part in TV debates.

Sen. Obama, a gifted orator, will try to avoid mistakes. Sen. Hillary, meanwhile, is desperate to stall his momentum and hopes to use the New Hampshire primary as a fire wall.

In the Republican debate, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney will try to hit back at Mike Huckabee, who pulled off a surprise triumph in Iowa, while surging John McCain also hopes to shine.

Obama is facing increased criticism from Hillary and other rivals determined to block him in New Hampshire.

Just five days after the Iowa caucuses, the small northeastern state of New Hampshire will hold the country’s first presidential primary election on Tuesday.

The candidates are heading into several weeks of intense campaigning that culminates in more than two dozen state primary contests on Feb. 5.

On Friday night, Hillary, Obama, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson and Rep. Dennis Kucinich made their presidential pitches to the 3,000 hardy partisans assembled in Milford for the New Hampshire Democratic Party’s 100 Club fundraising dinner. It was the largest political dinner in New Hampshire history, Republican or Democrat.

If the dinner is any indication —Obama will handily win here. When Obama, the dinner’s last speaker, took the stage the crowd surged forward chanting “O-bam-a” and “Fired Up, Ready to Go!” So many people pressed toward the stage that an announcer asked people to “please take their seats for safety concerns.” By comparison, Hillary was twice booed. The first time was when she said she has always and will continue to work for “change for you.” Change is a word long-used by Obama in his campaign.

The audience, particularly Obama supporters, let out what sounded like a thousand people collectively groaning.

The second time came a few minutes later when Hillary said: “The there are two big questions for voters in New Hampshire. One is: who will be ready to lead from day one? The second,” and here Hillary was forced to pause as boos from the crowd mixed with cheers from her own supporters. “...Is who can we nominate who will go the distance against the Republicans?”
Hillary did receive a rousing cheer at the end of her 18-minute address, but Obama had the audience on its feet, waving placards during an earsplitting ovation.

Obama, son of a Kenyan father and American mother, countered with a call for a broader political base founded on progressive values. “If you know who you are, if you know what you believe in, if you know what you are fighting for, then you can afford to listen to folks who don’t agree with you, you can afford to reach across the aisle every once in a while,” Obama said. “It won’t hurt you. You won’t be compromised and you will be able to form the majorities that will defeat the special interests and ... win elections.” Obama’s open-armed appeal, typically heard in general elections and not in primaries, was aimed not only at independents and Republicans, but at Democrats who Obama’s campaign believes are attracted by an inclusive message.

The approach has made him a target of his main rivals, Hillary and John Edwards, who argue his vision is naive.

“There’s no shortage of anger in Washington people,” Obama said. “We don’t need more heat, we need more light.” He added a new punch line to one of his stump speech standards, recounting how Republicans have approached him and whispered their support. “Now,” he said to loud applause, “they weren’t whispering!”

The major Hillary-Obama showdown will likely come on Feb. 5, which is shaping up as a near-national primary day. More than 20 states will vote, including Hillary’s home state, New York, Obama’s home state, Illinois, and California.

Several Democratic strategists unaffiliated with any campaign said on Friday that Hillary could lose in the early states and still clinch the nomination on Feb. 5. To do so, they said, she must focus on burnishing her own image in the coming month, and she must resist the temptation to tar Obama, as he could become a magnet for Democrats who want to move beyond the Clinton-Bush years.

No comments:

Post a Comment