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Hillary Clinton Campaign Press Release - Howard Wolfson and Phil Singer Discuss the State of the Race

May 04, 2008

Howard Wolfson and Phil Singer made the following remarks on a conference call this afternoon.

Audio is available here.

Howard Wolfson: Good afternoon everyone. Thank you all for joining us today- a beautiful day here in beautiful downtown Arlington. Howard Wolfson, the communications director for the Clinton campaign, joined as always on the flight deck by Deputy Communications Director Phil Singer. I say that just because he always shakes his head woefully when I do it.

Today we are talking about something very important. We've seen a very important debate over the last several days in this campaign between Senator Obama and Senator Clinton on the subject of the gas tax and it's a debate about policy that says something larger about the two candidates who are having it. On the one hand, Senator Clinton believes that this summer with gas prices so high and middle class families hurting that the oil companies ought to pay the gas tax. Senator Obama says no. He thinks hard-pressed consumers ought to continue paying the gas tax despite the fact that oil is at record cost and people are hurting. That's a critical distinction in this race between, in Senator Clinton, someone who understands the pain that middle class and working class families are feeling, who wants to help bring immediate relief to them and wants to do it in a fiscally responsible way to ensure that the oil companies make up the revenue and Senator Obama, somebody who just doesn't seem to understand that middle class families are hurting, working class families are hurting and that they need relief. He would rather side with the oil companies over the interests of middle class families.

So it's an important policy difference that says something larger about the two candidates and that larger frame is consistent with some of the policy differences we've seen throughout this campaign.

On the issue of health care, Senator Clinton understands that every American needs and deserves quality affordable health care. Senator Obama leaves fifteen million people out, a key distinction between somebody who is committed to helping every single person and somebody who else who says "no, we can afford to leave some people out." On the issue of home mortgages, Senator Clinton says let's freeze rates for subprime borrowers, let's freeze foreclosures for subprime borrowers so we are not having families thrown out of their homes. Senator Obama says no that's the wrong approach. Again, somebody who understands the pain that middle class and working class families are going through right now in this country and somebody who doesn't.

These are critically important distinctions between Senator Clinton and Senator Obama. They say something critically important about the differences between the two of them and their approaches and the kind of presidents they'd be. I am asked and we are asked on these calls- why is it that Senator Obama is consistently unable to attract the votes of working class and middle class people and I have to say that middle class and working class people are following this race closely in Texas and Ohio and Pennsylvania, of course now in North Carolina and Indiana and they know that Senator Clinton is on their side, they know that Senator Clinton is a champion and fighter for them and they are voting accordingly.

This is a good substantive debate; we welcome the debate. It's unfortunate that Senator Obama has taking the position that he has but we are debating substance here. We are debating a substantive point that allows voters to draw a larger conclusion about these two candidates, about their priorities and about what they would really do to help hard-pressed, working class and middle class Americans. And with that I will turn it over to Phil.

Phil Singer: This is Phil. I would just add that I think it's clear that the Obama campaign is running scared right now. They've outspent our campaign by significant margins in both North Carolina and Indiana, they've predicated victories in both North Carolina and Indiana, and they're currently watching our candidate catch fire on the stump and generate a significant amount of momentum going into Election Day. Their response to Senator Obama's inability to connect with working class voters is now quickly turning into an attack response. And that is what we are seeing today, unfortunately, with this new advertisement that the Obama campaign is unveiling.

What makes this new advertisement particularly unfortunate is the way it makes misleading claims about Senator Clinton's position, and actually takes a line and uses a column about criticizing Senator McCain's approach to support the gas tax in order to criticize Senator Clinton. I am referring specifically to the line in this latest attack ad that they are putting out called "Boost," where the announcer says,"Experts say it will just boost oil industry profits," and it refers to a column in the New York Times of April 28th. In fact, the column that they are referring to is one written by Paul Krugman, where he writes, "The impression that Mr. McCain's tax talk is all about pandering is reinforced by his proposal for a summer gas tax holiday, a measure that would in fact do little to help consumers, although it would boost oil industry profits."

Mr. Krugman was referring to Senator McCain's approach. In fact, in that same column, Mr. Krugman acknowledges that Hillary's plan will not increase profits for the oil industry. So the Obama campaign has put up an ad attacking Senator Clinton's position because it's incapable of embracing Senator Obama's position in a way that actually resonates with voters and tells voters that he is on their side. So they are misquoting a column to make an attack on Senator Clinton.

It is exactly the kind of thing that Senator Obama and his campaign, it's exactly the kind of political tactic that Senator Obama and his campaign have criticized in the past. So it's rather ironic that going into the closing days of this very important election on Tuesday, you see the Obama campaign essentially throwing many of the principles that it has said have guided it throughout this process in order to score political points and attack Hillary. That's unfortunate, but that's the position Senator Obama finds himself in right now, because he is not connecting with working class voters, real people and we think that's a problem in this election but it's also going to be a problem for him going forward if he is the nominee.

Hillary Clinton, Hillary Clinton Campaign Press Release - Howard Wolfson and Phil Singer Discuss the State of the Race Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/315906

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