- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 19, 2008

Voters thinking the Republican lines of attack against Sen. Barack Obama sound familiar aren’t experiencing deja vu - Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton previewed several of them during the primary campaign.

Democrats warned that the prolonged Obama-Clinton battle could give Republicans ammunition, and they have been proved right as Mrs. Clinton’s harsher words resurface in campaign missives from Sen. John McCain and national, state and local Republicans.

He is naive and inexperienced on foreign policy, Mrs. Clinton suggested for months. Republicans have echoed the attacks.

Democrats now want to move past the nasty fight and Clinton backers are standing by Mr. Obama’s side, but Republicans aren’t eager to let the opposing party forget its warring.

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“We could point to many, many examples during the debates where the words ‘irresponsible’ and ‘naive’ were applied to Senator Obama, but not by a Republican, but by Hillary Clinton. She’ll probably be in a different position now, but these are issues that Hillary Clinton very dramatically pointed out during the Democratic primary,” former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani told reporters Wednesday. The former Republican presidential candidate was using Mrs. Clinton’s line to go after Mr. Obama after the Democrat’s formation of a national security “working group” to advise him on the issue.

In a press conference this week, Mr. McCain of Arizona employed another familiar line against Mr. Obama - evoking his rival’s remarks this spring that some rural voters are “bitter” and “cling” to religion and guns. Mrs. Clinton labeled the comments “elitist,” and repeatedly went after Mr. Obama as having insulted voters.

“I won’t tell [the American people] that in small towns across America and Pennsylvania that they are bitter or angry about their economic conditions,” he said, adding that he knows why gun enthusiasts “embrace their constitutional rights … [and churchgoers] embrace their religion because they’re fundamentally good and decent people.”

The McCain slam could have been culled from Mrs. Clinton’s own attack in April when the “bitter” comments were first reported and she said it seemed Mr. Obama was blaming rural voters for opposing him.

“He said that they cling to religion and guns and dislike people who are different from them. I don’t believe that,” she said. “I believe that people don’t cling to religion; they value their faith. You don’t cling to guns; you enjoy hunting or collecting or sport shooting. I don’t think he really gets it that people are looking for a president who stands up for you and not looks down on you.”

This week, the Republicans are portraying Mr. Obama as a hypocrite for criticizing the 2005 energy bill even though he voted for it - another Clinton argument.

It doesn’t end there - on the economy, trade issues and even Mr. Obama’s oratorical ability, the Republicans seem to be adopting much of the Clinton attack playbook - which she retired after it became clear this spring that she had lost the nomination to the political newcomer.

The former first lady’s most infamous line about years of experience - during which she questioned whether he had passed the “commander-in-chief” test - has made a cameo in Republican attack ads.

“Senator McCain will bring a lifetime of experience to the campaign, I will bring a lifetime of experience and Senator Obama will bring a speech that he gave in 2002,” Mrs. Clinton said in March, referring to Mr. Obama’s speech opposing the Iraq war.

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