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Campaign Notebook

Obama slams employee mishap, again

Richardson 'has earned my respect,' Tiant said. Richardson "has earned my respect," Tiant said.
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December 13, 2007

Barack Obama continues his hard-edged, negative campaign - against his own staff.

The Obama campaign's response to reports Tuesday that he had stated in a decade-old questionnaire his unequivocal opposition to the existence of guns - a different position than he states today - was to blame it on a wayward employee.

"That was a questionnaire filled out in his first state Senate campaign back in 1996 not by Senator Obama but by somebody on his staff that didn't get it cleared," US Representative Adam Smith of Washington, an Obama supporter, said on MSNBC on Tuesday evening.

Passing blame down to anonymous staff ranks has become something of a tic for Obama.

In May, Obama pointed the finger at unidentified campaign schedulers when he had to address a New Hampshire firefighters union by telephone, instead of meeting with them in person.

"I have to tell you, I wish I was there," Obama told the gathering. "My staff had already scheduled some things and they couldn't wiggle out if it. They heard from me a little bit because I wasn't happy I couldn't be there personally."

And after media attention turned to the "Hillary Clinton (D-Punjab)" headline on a June research memo Obama's campaign produced about Clinton's ties to the Indian-American community, Obama called the "unnecessarily caustic" document a "dumb mistake on our campaign's part and I made it clear to my staff in no uncertain terms that it was a mistake."

SASHA ISSENBERG

Red Sox hero Luis Tiant pitches for Richardson

Republican John McCain has Curt Schilling pitching for him in New Hampshire.

Now Democrat Bill Richardson has another Red Sox hero stumping for him in the Granite State.

Richardson's campaign announced yesterday that Luis Tiant, the portly pitcher with the whirling-dervish delivery, will be the guest of honor at an event in Manchester on Sunday evening.

"Governor Richardson has earned my respect," Tiant, known at "El Tiante" and for his stellar performance in the 1975 playoffs, said in a statement issued by the New Mexico governor's campaign. "Bill Richardson's experience, vision, and record of delivering in the clutch make him the best qualified candidate for president."

Richardson said he was thrilled to have Tiant's support.

"For a guy who dreamed of becoming a professional baseball player as a kid, to have the active support of a real Red Sox legend like Luis Tiant is truly an honor," he said in the statement. "Luis and I share an affinity for Red Sox baseball and maybe the occasional cigar."

FOON RHEE

Paul launches health ads in Iowa, New Hampshire

Republican Ron Paul, whose TV ads have been mostly biographical, turns to the issue of healthcare in his new spot.

The ad, which will air in Iowa and New Hampshire, shows a narrator talking about a "big tug of war" on healthcare.

On one side are HMOs and drug companies, he says, as an image of a prescription bottle stuffed with bills appears.

On the other side is government, which neglected injured Iraq veterans, the narrator says, as an image of a forlorn soldier sitting unattended in a hallway appears. "I say we need Ron Paul for president," the narrator says. "One, he's a doctor, he's seen it all. Two, he's got the right idea, take the power from big business and the bureaucrats and give it back to the patients and the doctors they choose. Now that's the right medicine."

The ad's message fits in with Paul's libertarianism, which has caught fire among some voters, especially on the Internet.

But it doesn't speak directly to the issues that are the focus of the healthcare debate - how to cover more of the estimated 47 million Americans without health coverage, and how to make healthcare more affordable.

FOON RHEE

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