WASHINGTON – Hillary Clinton's campaign made a new fundraising pitch on Thursday, looking to somehow capitalize on the flak she's taking from her Democratic opponents over her performance at a debate Tuesday night in Philadelphia.
In a letter circulated by Clinton Campaign Manager Patti Solis Doyle, the campaign announced that the presidential race has "entered a new phase."
"On that stage in Philadelphia, we saw six against one. Candidates who had pledged the politics of hope practiced the politics of pile on instead. Her opponents tried a whole host of attacks on Hillary," the letter said. It then asked readers for a campaign contribution.
The missive came as Clinton's opponents continued to take shots at the frontrunner over her seeming double talk at the debate. Most of the criticism has come in response to Clinton's confusing answer regarding her position on New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer's plan to give illegal immigrants driver's licenses, a stance she has since tried to clarify. That issue is not necessarily a divisive topic for Democrats, but rather the response is indicative of what opponents say is Clinton's fatal flaw.
The campaign for John Edwards, the former North Carolina senator who was especially critical Tuesday night, released a statement Thursday saying Clinton is engaging in the "politics of parsing."
"All the distractions in the world won't undo the fact that on Tuesday night millions of Americans saw John Edwards speak honesty and directly while Senator Clinton once again took multiple positions on multiple issues," the statement said. "We understand that the Clinton campaign isn't happy about that, but instead of smoke and mirrors, how about some truth-telling?"
Clinton has tried to clear the air of confusion, saying late Wednesday that she supports Spitzer's plan.
Spitzer's plan, which he has retooled in the face of heavy criticism, would grant identification on a three-tier basis, decreasing with the level of proper documentation. Undocumented, illegal immigrants would receive a license only to be used for driving, and be inscribed "not for federal purposes," meaning it couldn't be used to board flights or cross borders.
"Senator Clinton broadly supports measures like the ones being advocated by Governor Spitzer, but there are details that still need to be worked out," Clinton spokesman Phil Singer said Wednesday.
"Senator Clinton supports governors like Governor Spitzer who believe they need such a measure to deal with the crisis caused by this administrations failure to pass comprehensive immigration reform," he added.
During the debate Tuesday night, Clinton offered support for Spitzer, saying he was trying to "fill the vacuum left by the failure of this administration to bring about comprehensive immigration reform," and noted millions of illegal immigrants are in New York at any one time. They should be able to have identification if they're in an auto accident, for instance, she said.
When all seven of the candidates were asked whether they agree that illegal aliens should have driver's licenses, only Sen. Christopher Dodd said he disagreed. He then pressed Clinton on the issue and argued against the plan, saying: "A license is a privilege, and that ought not to be extended, in my view."
Clinton responded: "Well, I just want to add, I did not say that it should be done, but I certainly recognize why Governor Spitzer is trying to do."
Dodd then quickly interrupted Clinton before she could finish, seizing on the apparent discrepancy. Moderator Tim Russert then tried to elicit an answer on whether she supported the plan or not, but she avoided offering specific support for the plan.
Then Edwards and Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, both attorneys like Clinton, took turns dicing her statement.
"Unless I missed something, Senator Clinton said two different things in the course of about two minutes just a few minutes ago," Edwards said.
"I was confused on Senator Clinton's answer. I can't tell whether she was for it or against it," Obama said.
Clinton's apparent indecision also made fodder for Republicans on the campaign trail.
Speaking to reporters in Nashua, N.H., former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani took a page out of President Bush's campaign playbook, playing on a phrase used against Democratic candidate John Kerry in 2004.
"Hillary Clinton was for it, she was against it, and she wasn't sure if she was for it or against it, in the space of one answer," Giuliani said. "She is known for taking one position with one audience and another position with another audience. ... What they didn't know is she can actually take two different positions in front of the same audience."
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney likened her support for driver's licenses to tolerance of illegals in the workforce and those who benefit from city services.
"What that does is it communicates to people coming to the country illegally that with a wink and a nod it is alright. This sanctuary state of mind seems to permeate many liberals that they are going to have sanctuary cities, we are going to have sanctuary driver's licenses, sanctuary tuition discounts for children of illegal aliens, and that sanctuary state of mind has contributed to millions of people coming here illegally, and it has to stop," Romney said.
Former Tennessee senator Fred Thompson said Clinton's response was "another example of (her) dodging hard issues." He later suggested that Clinton's lack of clarity in her debate answers raises questions about her ability to handle diplomacy and foreign policy.
"When our worst enemy sits down at the negotiating table and looks across the table ... how much can they get away with, how much of what they're hearing is really true? Are they going to mean what is said on the other side of the table? The question is, 'Who do we want on the other side of that table facing them?"' he told a crowd of GOP donors in Las Vegas.
And the Republican National Committee issued its own talking points memo, pointing to statements it said show that "Hillary's stance on illegal immigration reforms remains vague and undefined."
Meanwhile, the controversy over Spitzer's plan is not going away any time soon. On Thursday, 32 Republican New York Assembly members filed a lawsuit against Spitzer, seeking to quash the license plan.
The suit states the plan violates the section of New York law that says the Department of Motor Vehicles must require a Social Security number before issuing a driver's license. Among the concerns about the plan is that it will giving illegal immigrants the right to get ID that they could use to vote, to support terror activities or buy weapons.
"The basis of the suit is the governor's proposal is unlawful," said Josh Fitzpatrick, spokesman for New York Assembly Republican Leader James Tedisco, who is leading the effort against Spitzer.
Fitzpatrick said the assembly members resorted to court action after a move to amend the governor's plan failed in special session. He said Clinton's response to Spitzer's plan during the debate Tuesday "raised awareness" about the issue but did not by itself prompt the lawsuit.
"It's a battle that's been raging for about six weeks now," he said.
Nonetheless, Tedisco bashed Clinton in a statement Wednesday, calling her a flip-flopper and comparing her to 2004 Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry, whose positions were mocked by opponents as malleable.
Amid the renewed national attention, Spitzer stood by his plan Thursday.
"I have a very serious obligation. That's to improve the security of the state, and that's what we're doing," the governor said.
FOX News' Judson Berger contributed to this report.