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Clinton attacks against Obama vanish on Web
Gone are the attack ads accusing Sen. Barack Obama of insulting Pennsylvanians, ducking debates and making misleading assertions about gas prices. In their place are some of the campaign’s best and most positive ads and multiple “Hillary I Know” testimonials that have a shelf life should the former first lady ever run again.
The whitewashing took place quietly in the past few days as Mr. Obama cut his former rival a check to help relieve her campaign debt and as the Clinton family moved to fully embrace Mr. Obama as the presumptive Democratic nominee.
“She’s no longer campaigning for president,” said Clinton spokesman Mo Elleithee. “She’s focused on her work in the Senate, campaigning for Senator Obama and other Democrats.”
Mr. Elleithee said the videos probably are archived.
Also missing are the dozens of speeches and hundreds of press releases running back to Mrs. Clinton’s January 2007 campaign announcement. Many offered reporters details about important endorsements or the scripts of TV ads, but dozens were dedicated to countering the senator from Illinois.
“Misleading attack: Sen. Obama flubs in Ohio,” one release read. Another blared, in capital letters, “NAFTA-gate: False denials from the Obama campaign.”
Also gone are campaign memos, such as Mark Penn’s Feb. 2 “Hillary is the Democrat to beat McCain,” or the May 19 missive by Clinton communications director Howard Wolfson complaining that Mr. Obama was about to declare that he had won a majority of delegates: “Mission Accomplished? Not so fast.”
The only releases left at HillaryClinton.com are a statement about the death of NBC’s Tim Russert and the text of Mrs. Clinton’s June 9 speech suspending her campaign after Mr. Obama earned enough delegates to lock up the nomination.
The separate “Fact Hub” Web site that rebuked the Obama campaign has gone dead, along with “Attack Timeline” that detailed every nasty remark by Mr. Obama or his surrogates during the long primary battle.
By contrast, the Obama Fact Check page on his campaign site still offers rebuttals to Clinton attacks dating back to its creation in fall 2007.
HillaryHub, a site showcasing positive press coverage, also has been removed.
The Hillary TV page that once featured fundraising appeals and dozens of ads — including those with Bill Clinton on a treadmill and the former first couple in a “Sopranos” spoof — now offers just five videos.
In one, she heartily endorses Mr. Obama’s candidacy. In another, she thanks supporters and tells them, “I could not have made this part of the journey without you.”
The site still has her Pennsylvania spot titled “Scranton,” which features black and white photos of Mrs. Clinton as a girl, and the “Dreams” ad in which the senator from New York shows photographs of her parents, talks about the values they instilled in her and promises, “I carry with me not just their dreams but the dreams of people like them all across our country.”
The final video shows Mrs. Clinton and former President Bill Clinton meeting the campaign’s 1 millionth supporter.
Several upbeat videos also have vanished from the site and YouTube page.
Voters trying to view the Chelsea Clinton Mother’s Day tribute are directed to an error page that informs them: “We’ve recently updated our site and we welcome you to explore the new content from the navigation above.”
Although cleaning up a campaign site for the sake of party unity isn’t unusual, the YouTube scrubbing is. Other failed White House hopefuls have left their free campaign “channels” — created before last summer’s YouTube debates — intact, and ads for Republican Fred Thompson and Democrat Joseph R. Biden Jr. are still posted.
But the Clinton YouTube page is missing hundreds of videos, positive and negative alike. Her victory speeches, a showcase of enthusiastic young volunteers and her pledges to keep fighting through the primary season are history.
Yet nothing is ever truly gone in the YouTube age because Internet surfers have spliced, diced and saved every campaign ad of the cycle. Cable networks still can replay the ads, but any blogger who tries to link to the Clinton versions will get an error message: “We’re sorry, this video is no longer available.”
Still intact on the Hillary Hub YouTube page are remnants of some of the nastier moments of the campaign, including Mr. Wolfson’s insistence that he would not accept Mr. Obama’s delegate math unless the Florida and Michigan votes were fully counted, and a Clinton surrogate in North Carolina responding to Mr. Obama’s comments about “bitter” rural Americans.
Also on that page is a clip called, “Confronted w/ facts Obama experiences technical difficulties,” that shows a news report critical of Mr. Obama on the health care issue.
The HillaryClinton.com page is no longer funded by the presidential campaign, and a new disclaimer notes that “Friends of Hillary,” Mrs. Clinton’s Senate re-election committee, is paying for the site. She is not up for re-election until 2012.
Mrs. Clinton will be fundraising for Democratic candidates until the November election using her HillPAC political action committee. Its Web site, HillPac.com, was reactivated this week.
About the Author
Christina Bellantoni is a White House correspondent for The Washington Times in Washington, D.C., a post she took after covering the 2008 Democratic presidential campaigns. She has been with The Times since 2003, covering state and Congressional politics before moving to national political beat for the 2008 campaign. Bellantoni, a San Jose native, graduated from UC Berkeley with ...
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