Friday , October 12, 2007
Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton appears to be relishing her role as the No. 1 target of both Republican and Democratic candidates in the 2008 presidential race, saying she'd rather be getting the attention she's grabbed lately than not.
The New York senator and former first lady, who has a solid lead both nationally and in the first-in-the-nation primary state of New Hampshire, told FOX News on Thursday that she isn't paying attention to whether the other candidates are ganging up on her nor is she concerned with her rivals' campaigns.
Asked if the laser is focused on her because she is looking more and more like the Democratic nominee, the lone female candidate in the race joked: "As a friend of mine said, 'When you get to be our age, having all these men obsessed by you is not all that bad."
Clinton has a double-digit lead in the Granite State with a little more than two months until the Jan. 22 primary. In a FOX News-Opinion Dynamics poll conducted Oct. 9-10 among 900 registered voters nationwide, Clinton got 50 percent of the vote in the primary match-up compared to 18 percent for Sen. Barack Obama and 11 percent for John Edwards. The margin of error was 3 percent in that poll. Seventy-three percent of those surveyed also said Clinton is somewhat or very qualified to be president; 44 percent said they expected that she will become the next president.
With Clinton far out in the lead, the number of attacks on her from all sides has skyrocketed, with Obama in particular going from obscure references to straight-out criticism of his chief rival. Writing in an op-ed Thursday in New Hampshire's statewide Union-Leader newspaper, Obama criticized Clinton for her Senate vote in favor of an amendment to put sanctions on the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps, the elite military force run by Tehran's Islamic regime.
Obama called the vote irresponsible since other language in the amendment could be a catalyst toward military action against Iran. He then linked that vote to her 2002 support for legislation authorizing force against Iraq.
"Sen. Clinton says she was merely voting for more diplomacy, not war with Iran. If this has a familiar ring, it should. Five years after the original vote for war in Iraq, Sen. Clinton has argued that her vote was not for war — it was for diplomacy, or inspections," Obama wrote.
"We didn't need to authorize a war in order to have United Nations weapons inspections. No one thought Congress was debating diplomacy. No newspaper headlines ran on Oct. 12, 2002, reading, 'Congress authorizes diplomacy.' This was a vote to authorize war, and without that vote, there would have been no war," he continued.
In response to the editorial, Clinton said she voted for the resolution so that negotiators would have some sticks to go along with carrots brought to the table with Iran.
Clinton spokesman Phil Singer added that Obama was trying to attack Clinton to build on his stagnant support from Democratic primary voters.
"Senator Obama is well aware that Senator Clinton was one of the first to say George Bush must get explicit congressional authority before attacking Iran and is the sole co-sponsor of legislation forbidding the president from expending any money on military action there without congressional approval. Senator Obama's attacks won't bring change, but Senator Clinton's strength and experience will," Singer said.
Speaking with FOX News, Clinton defended her approach to Iran, and said she's not going to tell Obama how to run his operation.
"I don't run anybody else's campaign, they have to run their own campaign but I have made it very clear that when I am president, we will begin to withdraw from Iraq. I have a plan to do that," Clinton said.
"I also have been careful to say that we have to be responsible in how we do it because obviously we will be facing all kinds of dangers that we unfortunately will inherit from this president's failed policies," she added.
Clinton said it's up to each candidate to choose his strategy for getting the nomination, and Obama's going negative won't undo the progress she's made in winning over voters, including independents and Republicans.
"I have so much Republican support, so much independent support across the country because people come to me as Republicans and say I didn't sign up for all of this, I didn't sign up for us to be back in deficits and debt. I didn't sign up for our government to be incompetent in responding to (hurricanes) Katrina and Rita, didn't sign up for this war that doesn't seem to have any kind of plan that will lead us toward getting out," she said.
Clinton added that she has gotten a lot of positive reaction to her proposals and will continue to try and enlist more voters to her camp. She laughed off the latest charges that she may have peaked too soon in a state notorious for punishing would-be frontrunners.
"I don't consider myself a frontrunner," Clinton said. "I run as though I am 10 or 20 points behind and I am going to keep doing that. ... I just keep working as hard as I possibly can until the votes are counted."
FOX News' Carl Cameron and Corbett Riner contributed to this report.