- The Washington Times - Friday, April 18, 2008

PHILADELPHIA — Front-runner status brings unexpected headaches, and Sen. Barack Obama continues to show he’s not immune.

Mr. Obama’s campaign yesterday was forced to reject an unsolicited endorsement by the Islamist terror group Hamas as the candidate worked to reassure leery Jewish voters, and his supporters derided Wednesday’s debate as unfair.

In Pennsylvania, Mr. Obama’s prodigious fundraising is allowing him to flood the airwaves with ads to cut away rival Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s lead here, but voters say they can’t click the remote control without seeing the Democratic aspirant’s face — and even supporters think it’s too much.

“Part of me says, yeah, I’m getting tired of that stuff because it’s been going on for so long but because we’re right up to the edge, I can handle it for the next couple of days,” said Jerry Bowers, an Obama volunteer from Mechanicsburg.

Lots of ads are “part of the process,” he added.

But a recent American Research Group (ARG) poll found 23 percent of likely voters in Pennsylvania”s primary Tuesday think the Obama ads — at least 14 different spots that have blanketed the airwaves from network news to MTV — are “excessive.” The ads promise change and outline his biography.

As for Hamas, the campaign for Mr. Obama, who frequently lambastes the Bush administration for its arrogance toward other nations, denounced the terror group critical of the White House”s “domination and arrogance.”

“Senator Obama has repeatedly rejected and denounced the actions of Hamas, a terrorist organization responsible for the deaths of many innocents, that is dedicated to Israel’s destruction,” Obama campaign spokesman Tommy Vietor said.

“As president, Obama will work with Israel to isolate terrorist groups like Hamas, target their resources, and support Israel’s right and capability to defend itself from any attack.”

Hamas’ top political adviser, Ahmed Yousef, embraced the Obama campaign Sunday in an interview on WABC radio, saying, “We like Mr. Obama. We hope he will [win] the election.”

He compared the Illinois senator to President John F. Kennedy, saying he was a “great man with great principle, and he has a vision to change America to make it in a position to lead the world community but not with domination and arrogance.”

The Obama campaign’s rejection of Hamas’ overture coincided with former President Jimmy Carter’s meeting yesterday with a Hamas delegation from the Gaza Strip in Cairo, a move criticized for lending legitimacy to a group that rejects all negotiations with Israel on principle and calls for the Jewish state’s destruction and the death of all Jews worldwide.

Mr. Obama joined the White House and Israel in opposing Mr. Carter’s outreach to Hamas.

“Hamas is not a state. Hamas is a terrorist organization,” Mr. Obama said Wednesday at a private meeting with Jewish voters in Philadelphia, in which he drew a distinction between meeting with terrorists and with leaders of rogue nations.

Democratic rival Mrs. Clinton of New York and presumptive Republican nominee Sen. John McCain of Arizona have said his pledge to meet with leaders of Iran, Cuba and other U.S. enemies show Mr. Obama’s naivete about international diplomacy and that the meetings would confer credibility to rogue leaders.

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