Monday, February 27, 2006

Last week, the Republican National Committee issued three press releases critical of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton in about 24 hours — a rare move against someone still only rumored as a 2008 White House candidate and who faces little opposition in her re-election bid.

In the past week, the RNC sent out three e-mails to reporters targeting the New York Democrat on school choice. One of the anti-Clinton e-mails was titled, “Hillary Unhinged,” and another was called, “Hillary’s latest anger alert.”

The e-mails strengthen a line of attack that began earlier this month, when RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman said on ABC’s “This Week” that “Hillary Clinton seems to have a lot of anger, and voters usually do not send angry candidates to the White House.”

“I think this is their latest attempt to change the subject. Once again, rather than having to take responsibility for their own policies, they are lashing out, looking for other people to complain about,” Clinton spokeswoman Ann Lewis said.

“Republicans are worried her moderate image is connecting with voters,” a former Clinton staffer told The Washington Times. “They’ve got to remind the Republican base this is the person they are supposed to hate and force her to spend money.”

Mrs. Clinton already is turning the attacks to her financial advantage. Democratic strategists James Carville and Paul Begala sent two fundraising letters to Mrs. Clinton’s supporters this week citing criticisms from Mr. Mehlman, first lady Laura Bush and John Spencer, a Republican candidate for her Senate seat.

“The Republican national chairman, Ken Mehlman, calls her ‘angry,’ Laura Bush says Hillary is ‘out of bounds,’ and now her latest opponent makes outrageous charges that she ‘aids and abets our enemies,’” Mr. Begala wrote Wednesday.

Mr. Begala then turned the Republican criticism into a fundraising drive, referring to “financial support from Bush political-financial complex that leaves no special interest lobbyist behind.”

“It means pushing millions of dollars into an anti-Hillary campaign,” he added.

Mrs. Clinton has an estimated $17 million in her campaign bank. In contrast, Mr. Spencer has a reported $250,000 cash on hand.

When asked in an e-mail exchange why the RNC had targeted Mrs. Clinton, RNC spokeswoman Tracey Schmitt told The Times, “Such inflammatory language from the senator reminds voters that she is someone who has more in common with Michael Moore and Howard Dean than she does with her constituency.

“By taking the low road rather than engaging in a substantive, factual debate, the junior senator from New York reveals motives that are steeped in partisanship and short on the facts,” she said.

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