- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 8, 2008

A top adviser to Sen. Barack Obama resigned yesterday for calling Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton a “monster” in a news interview, as the Democratic presidential rivals dropped into Wyoming for their first and final campaigning before today’s caucuses.

Samantha Power, a key foreign policy adviser to the Obama campaign, stepped down with “deep regret,” calling her remarks “inexcusable” and out of sync with her “oft-stated admiration” for Mrs. Clinton and with Mr. Obama’s attempts to keep the campaign positive.

In a story published in a recent issue of the Scotsman in Edinburgh, Ms. Power said: “She is a monster, too — that is off the record — she is stooping to anything.

“You just look at her and think, ‘Ergh,’ … But if you are poor and she is telling you some story about how Obama is going to take your job away, maybe it will be more effective. The amount of deceit she has put forward is really unattractive,” said the Harvard professor, who was in Scotland promoting a book.

The remarks drew swift rebuke from the Obama campaign and Clinton supporters, who said they were out of line.

“We don’t need attacks on a person’s character. We need a civil contest,” said Rep. Nita Lowey, New York Democrat.

Meanwhile, yesterday, Wyoming was basking in the unaccustomed spotlight, voting at a crucial time in the Democratic nominating process — today. Only Wyoming and Mississippi — both Republican-leaning states — vote between now and the April 22 Pennsylvania primary, and Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Obama went there yesterday to continue their exchange over the Scotsman flap.

Mr. Obama rallied overflow crowds in speeches at the Casper Recreation Center and the University of Wyoming in Laramie. Meanwhile, Mrs. Clinton crossed paths with her rival for the nomination in appearances at Laramie County Community College and Casper College.

Mrs. Clinton said Mr. Obama had made the right decision in accepting Ms. Power’s resignation, but her campaign also jumped on remarks the adviser had made about Iraq in a separate interview. She had said that Mr. Obama’s promise to fully withdraw troops from Iraq was a “best-case scenario” plan.

Mrs. Clinton blasted the remark, saying that Mr. Obama campaigns on one thing, while his top advisers tell foreign reporters “he will not rely on his own plan” if elected.

Mr. Obama told Wyoming voters not to be “confused” by Mrs. Clinton and rebutted her charges.

“Senator Clinton used this to try to imply that I wasn’t serious about bringing this war to an end,” he said. “If it had been up to me we would have never been in this war. It was because of George Bush with an assist from Hillary Clinton and John McCain that we entered into this war.”

He said he has been against it every year and “will bring this war to an end in 2009. So don’t be confused when Senator Clinton is not even willing to acknowledge that she voted for war.”

Bill Luckett, communications director of the Wyoming Democratic Party, called the two candidates’ appearances “probably a once in a generation opportunity for Wyoming Democrats to see their presidential candidates.”

“It’s so cool,” he said.

Registered Democrats are relatively few, just 67,000 in 2006, and reaching them requires traveling to small towns separated by vast expanses. There hasn’t even been any public polling done in Wyoming. The state only has 12 delegates, fewer than any state or territory except Guam, which has four.

“It is remarkable that Wyoming’s Democratic caucuses are garnering the nation’s attention this year, and it is even more interesting that both candidates will make appearances in the state …,” Gov. Dave Freudenthal, a Democrat, said in a statement yesterday.

Amid the campaigning for today’s Wyoming caucus and Tuesday’s Mississippi vote, Mr. Obama’s campaign manager David Plouffe downplayed expectations for the April 22 Pennsylvania primary, noting that a Clinton aide had said she was “unbeatable” in the Keystone State.

He called it “a state where Senator Clinton has huge advantages,” and said, “she should be expected to win.”

He said Mr. Obama would “fight very hard” to “get as many votes and delegates as we can.”

Mr. Plouffe also suggested Mrs. Clinton has banked her entire campaign on a handful of states, with Pennsylvania being her next firewall, while Mr. Obama has competed for wins in each state that’s voted.

“We won’t be defined by [Pennsylvania],” he said.

Much of the day’s news coverage focused on Ms. Power’s resignation.

Reporters asked Mrs. Clinton’s spokesman, Howard Wolfson, to differentiate between Clinton strategist Mark Penn repeatedly referring to Mr. Obama’s cocaine use in a TV interview or Clinton supporter Bob Johnson asking voters to consider the senator’s past drug use when making their choice. Mrs. Clinton did not ask either of them to step aside.

Mr. Wolfson said the messages were “not comparable” because Ms. Power was “clearly over the line.”

He added, “When surrogates … crossed the line, they were removed from the campaign.”

Clinton supporter Bill Shaheen in New Hampshire was forced to resign after he brought up the Obama drug use, and two campaign volunteers were asked to leave after forwarding e-mails that spread a false rumor about Mr. Obama’s faith, claiming he was Muslim. The senator is a Christian.

Mr. Plouffe denounced Ms. Power’s remarks as “not appropriate” but also called her a “very brilliant person.” He also accused the Clinton campaign of having a “double standard” because Mr. Johnson made his remarks right before the former first lady took the stage.

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