Hillary ad targets GOP, not her rivals; spot seen as a bid for sympathy
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, under growing fire from her chief Democratic rivals, began running a new television ad in New Hampshire Nov. 20 that portrays her as the sole target of the “Republican attack machine.”
The ad triggered speculation she is trying to create sympathy for herself while attempting to deflect attention away from the mounting attacks from her nomination rivals.
The 30-second TV ad begins by showing brief flashes of anti-Clinton ads from Republicans John McCain and Mitt Romney, while the narrator says, “Here they go again. The same old Republican attack machine is back. Why? Maybe it’s because they know there is one candidate with the strength and experience to get us out of Iraq. One candidate who will end tax giveaways for the big corporations. One candidate committed to cutting the huge Republican deficit. And one candidate who will put government back to work for the middle class.”
The ad is running at a time when Mrs. Clinton of New York holds a double-digit lead over her top opponents in the primary race in New Hampshire, but is in a dead heat in the Iowa caucus state, where recent polls showed Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois edging ahead of her. Former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards is not far behind in third place.
“The ad shows first and foremost that the Clinton campaign is not concerned with the attacks being lodged in her direction by her primary opponents for the nomination. But in addition to presenting Clinton as the presumed nominee of her party, the ad also attempts to evoke sympathy for Clinton,” said Democratic campaign-ad strategist Bud Jackson.
Mr. McCain, an Arizona senator, has attacked Mrs. Clinton for seeking a $1 million grant for a tribute to the 1960s-era Woodstock rock concert. Mr. Romney, a former Massachusetts governor, has criticized her lack of experience.
Both candidates quickly issued statements responding to the ad in the Granite State.
“It’s our sincere hope that Senator Clinton will continue to use her massive war chest on TV advertisements featuring John McCain,” said his spokeswoman Jill Hazelbaker.
“Governor Romney also has a record of, and a reputation for, actually getting things done,” said his spokesman Kevin Madden. “Senator Clinton has a reputation for one thing: partisanship. Extreme partisanship.”
One prominent Democrat also took a shot at her ad and the political implications he sees behind it.
Sen. Christopher J. Dodd of Connecticut, one of her long-shot rivals, said the ad represents “an interesting admission [. . . ] that if she’s elected we’re headed for four more years of the partisan warfare, Washington dysfunction, bitter divisiveness and gridlock that have marked the last 15 years, at a time when all Americans are desperate for real solutions to real problems.”
Mr. Jackson said the ad “really sounds consistent with what they’ve been attempting to do from the very beginning, and that is to establish her as the likely choice for the Democratic nomination.”
But, he added, that strategy could change quickly if “the trend in Iowa for Obama continue to improve and support for Clinton continuing to erode.”
Democratic presidential candidate and New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton squeezed in some campaigning in Iowa before Thanksgiving. She enjoys a safe lead in New Hampshire, but Sen. Barack Obama is closing in on her in the Hawkeye State.