Sunday, March 16, 2008

Thank heavens! Taking the gloves off to finally kill the beast!

Obama prepares for full assault on Clinton

Contender to take aim at Clinton's ethics

PLAINFIELD, Ind. - Sen. Barack Obama is trying to air his dirty laundry -- even some items that might appear just a little wrinkled -- as he prepares a full assault on Sen. Hillary Clinton over ethics and transparency.

On Saturday he invoked Robert F. Kennedy as he continued to try to distance himself from controversial statements made by his former Chicago pastor that are circulating on the Internet.

With a gap between campaign contests, Obama is trying to unload controversies. On Friday he held extended conversations with the Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times about his longtime relationship with indicted developer and fundraiser Antoin "Tony" Rezko.

The Illinois Democrat is also expected to make public his tax returns for several years before 2006, documents he previously has provided to the Tribune and other news organizations.

Clinton, who appeared Saturday in two St. Patrick's Day parades in Pennsylvania, has said she will release her post-White House tax returns in mid-April, perhaps just ahead of the April 22 Pennsylvania primary.

Her campaign, meanwhile, suggested that many questions remain about Obama's relationship with Rezko.

"The revelations in today's newspapers make it clear that Sen. Obama has not always been as straightforward" as he has suggested, Clinton spokesman Phil Singer said.

The New York senator also said she supported an effort by Michigan Democrats to hold a June primary, a do-over for one not sanctioned by the national party.

And on the issue of delegates vs. superdelegates, in an interview to be broadcast Sunday on ABC's "This Week," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said it would be damaging to the party for leaders to dismiss the will of delegates picked in state contests, a declaration that could help Obama.

As the ethics debate played out, Obama campaigned in this heavily Republican suburb of Indianapolis, a town that is 95 percent white.

As Clinton emphasizes Pennsylvania, Obama is trying to expand the map.

Before he took the stage before about 3,000, a prayer was said. It was a rarity for his events, but a nod to the conservative tradition of Indiana, whose primary is May 6.

In 2004, President Bush beat Sen. John Kerry in Indiana, 60 percent to 39 percent. In Hendricks County, where Obama was, it was 73 percent to 26 percent.

Obama again rejected remarks of his former pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, calling them "incendiary" and encouraging Americans to look past racial divisions.

"If all I knew was those statements that I saw on television, I would be shocked," he said. "We've got a tragic history when it comes to race in this country. We've got a lot of pent up anger and bitterness and misunderstanding."

Obama's campaign said Friday that Wright is no longer a member of Obama's African-American Religious Leadership Committee.

In making his appeal, Obama invoked Kennedy, who spoke extemporaneously in nearby Indianapolis from the bed of a truck on the night Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in 1968.

"Remember what Bobby Kennedy said," Obama said. "It is within our power to join together to truly make a United States of America."

Obama was vague when asked Friday by the Tribune whether he believes pastors at his church -- Trinity United Church of Christ on Chicago's South Side -- have violated its tax-exempt status by advocating for him.

"I will leave that up to the IRS," he said. "I have never heard them say, 'Vote for Barack' or, you know, engage in outright politics."

Obama also predicted no resolution to the nomination fight until at least June. "I don't think it will be over until the last contest, which may or may not be Puerto Rico," he said.

In such a long primary battle, Obama said being dynamic is essential.
"You have to constantly renew yourself and what you're saying and what you're doing," he said, adding that he partially blames recent losses in Texas and Ohio on his message getting "stale."

Original article posted here.

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