Hil­lary ad tar­gets GOP, not her ri­vals; spot seen as a bid for sym­pa­thy

The Washington Times Weekly - - National - By Don­ald Lam­bro

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.”

Getty Images

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.

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