- The Washington Times - Saturday, April 19, 2008

PHILADELPHIA — Sen. Barack Obama yesterday scored the backing of a former Clinton Cabinet member and two former senators, while his rival said Mr. Obama can’t take the heat of being the Democratic front-runner.

Mr. Obama claimed an endorsement from one-time Labor Secretary Robert Reich, and is now supported by more than 10 former Clinton administration officials. Democratic former Sens. Sam Nunn of Georgia and David Boren of Oklahoma also added their support.

None is a superdelegate who will help decide the election, but Mr. Nunn and Mr. Boren will serve as campaign advisers and boost Mr. Obama’s national security credentials against presumptive Republican nominee Sen. John McCain of Arizona.

Mr. Nunn, a senator for 25 years, was chairman of the Armed Forces Committee. Mr. Boren served as chairman of the Intelligence Committee.

Mr. Reich said he had avoided a formal endorsement because of the “pull of old friendships.”

“But my conscience won’t let me be silent any longer,” he wrote on his blog, adding that Mr. Obama “presents the best chance of creating a new politics in which citizens become active participants rather than cynical spectators.”

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton meanwhile picked up the backing of three superdelegates — former New Jersey governors Jim Florio and Brendan Byrne, and Rep. Betty Sutton of Ohio — and took repeated shots at Mr. Obama of Illinois for complaining about the barrage of debate questions about his own campaign gaffes.

The New York senator told the local Fox affiliate that answering tough questions “goes with the territory.”

“I know the pressures inside the White House,” Mrs. Clinton said. “I know how hard it is every single day. When the going gets tough you can’t run away. We need a president who is going to be up there fighting every day for the American people and not complain about how much pressure there is, and how hard the questions are.”

Later, at a town hall meeting in Radnor, Pa., she said, “If you can’t stand the heat get out of the kitchen. Speaking for myself, I’m very comfortable in the kitchen.”

The remark also served to shore up support from female voters, a key constituency for Mrs. Clinton, who held campaign events with her mother and daughter Thursday.

She deployed similar homemaker imagery at the Thursday rally in a blue-collar neighborhood of northeast Philadelphia, saying it is time to clean up the mess left by the Bush administration.

“It’s time to clean house, and one thing women know how to do is clean house,” Mrs. Clinton said. “There is no telling what we’ll find.”

Mr. Obama, who yesterday kicked off a Pennsylvania tour in the lead-in to Tuesday’s primary, has said the ABC debate on Wednesday wasted time because its questions were dominated by personality issues.

After Mrs. Clinton sounded off on the debate complaints, the Obama campaign called her out as hypocritical, reminding voters she has done her share of griping about hard questions.

The Clinton campaign even crafted a video last fall showing the candidates and NBC debate moderators “piling on” by directing all of their attention her way.

“Her blatant hypocrisy here is stunning,” said Obama campaign spokesman Bill Burton. “But if she’d rather spend her time talking about the same distractions and divisions that Washington is obsessed with, that’s her business. Barack Obama believes the American people deserve a real debate on issues that actually matter, like health care, the economy, bringing this war to an end.”

Mrs. Clinton edged ahead of Mr. Obama in the latest Newsmax/Zogby daily tracking poll of Pennsylvania voters taken Wednesday and Thursday. She led 47 to 43 percent, up from a 45 to 44 percent lead in the poll the previous two days.

Mr. Obama leads the delegate count with 1,414 of the 2,025 needed for the nomination, including 231 superdelegates. Mrs. Clinton has 1,250 and 254 superdelegates, according to the Associated Press count.

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