Clinton camp offers up Bonnie Campbell

The Clinton Campaign set up a conference call this afternoon with Bonnie Campbell, the former Iowa Attorney General and US Justice Department official from the Clinton era who is backing Hillary Clinton’s bid for the White House.  Campbell accused Clinton rival Barack Obama of "embracing" the comments Hollywood movie mogul David Geffen made about the Clintons.

Campbell began with a statement:  "Many Iowans have had the opportunity to hear Senator Obama talk about the politics of hope and they have heard his repeated claim that we need to change the tone of politics in our nation.  Those, I think, are sentiments with which most Iowans agree.  That is why it is so surprising and so disappointing that Senator Obama’s campaign is standing by the comments made by one of his supporters attacking not only Senator Clinton personally but the Clinton presidency as well.  The majority of Americans and certainly Iowans believe Bill Clinton was a very good president and appreciate the eight great years we had.  I think it would be most appropriate for Senator Obama to disavow the comments of his campaign supporter."

Charlotte Eby of Lee Newspapers asked the questions:  "This seems pretty normal for the tussle of campaigns these days.  Is it possible the Clinton campaign is somewhat thin-skinned?"

Campbell:  "I think given what Senator Obama talks about, his repeated comment that we need to change the tone of politics in our country is inconsistent with his failure to disavow a personal attack on Senator Clinton and on the Clinton presidency.  Actions speak louder than words.  If the senator is to be consistent, then he should disavow the attack on Senator Clinton."

Eby:  "What did you find most offensive about what Mr. Geffen said?  What did you think was the personal attack in what he said?"

Campbell:  "Well, there were so many it’s hard.  Let me add, yet, I’ll begin with this.  As a former state party chair and I’ve known many of you and have worked with you — just the suggestion that somehow selecting our nominee in a smoke-filled room would be preferable to having Hillary Clinton as president is more than a little off-putting, shall we say, to be gentle about it.  His suggestion that she’s ambitious.  Gee, as a woman who held office and has run for office, that one (inaudible word) a little strange to me so I just feel that that was very personal, the whole sequence of comments, that she’s ambitious and that somehow because she seeks the presidency, there’s something wrong with that.  The reality is that she’s a two-time senator with a very long record of advocacy and real results and who is well-regarded by the American people if polls are to be believed.  The comments that she’s polarizing and can’t win are simply wrong."

Eby:  "Robert Gibbs with the Obama campaign responded, saying that Senator Clinton should denounce what South Carolina Senator Robert Ford said — that Barack Obama, if he were to win the nomination, he’d drag down the rest of the Democratic Party because he’s black.  Should the Clinton campaign be held to the same standard and denounce what the senator said?"

Campbell: "Well, I’m actually glad you raised that because when that legislator made that comment Hillary Clinton immediately disavowed that statement and that legislator apologized.  Not only is Senator Obama not denouncing the comments of his supporter attacking Senator Clinton, his campaign, in fact, appears to be embracing those comments which is certainly inconsistent with his very stirring rhetoric about changing the tone of American politics."

Call over.

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About O.Kay Henderson

O. Kay Henderson is the news director of Radio Iowa.


  1. It sounds like Camp Hillary has slipped into attack mode, projecting her own inabilities to offer up an apology for her vote to authorize war in Iraq.
    Wherever she goes, she’s perpetually dogged by voters, calling for her to admit she made a mistake, take responsibility for her actions, and offer up an apology to the American people. In Nevada today, all her other rivals called upon her to do so, but Hillary has drawn a political line in the sand saying she won’t apologize.
    So Hillary wants Obama to apologize for comments made by one of his supporters, yet she’s not willing to apologize for relinquishing her senatorial powers to declare war. Her vote surrendered her constitutional responsibility to maintain Congress’s role for declaring war, sacrificing the checks-and-balances protections in the process. As a voter in Iowa, I’m more concerned about seeing Hillary disavow her role in helping lay the groundwork for the Iraq War and all of her subsequent comments regarding this action than I am about Obama disavowing a supporter’s remarks. If Obama had to apologize for every personal attack on Hillary coming from somebody who happens to support his candidacy, he’d have no time left to campaign on what’s actually important.
    P.S. I’m not sorry for any of the aforementioned comments.