MILWAUKEE - Grounded by bad weather, Hillary Clinton ate eggs at a diner and bought peppers at a Hispanic grocery yesterday while her advisers suggested that Barack Obama had abandoned a commitment to accept public funding if he wins the Democratic presidential nomination.
Last week, Obama's campaign walked back from a proposal the Illinois senator made last year to accept public financing for the general election if the Republican nominee also agreed to do so.
Such a commitment would level the financial playing field with the apparent GOP nominee, John McCain, whose campaign has had a harder time raising money than Obama, who has broken all fund-raising records.
Obama's campaign said accepting public financing was an option he would consider if he wins the nomination, rather than a hard pledge.
Clinton advisers seized on the apparent shift, suggesting Obama had a pattern of making promises to voters and revising them later as circumstances change.
"When a campaign is based on promises and wonderful oratory, let's take a look at those promises," Clinton spokesman Howard Wolfson said on a conference call. He refused to say whether Clinton would commit to accepting public financing if she wins the Democratic nomination.
"We will assess the situation when we get to that point," he said.
As evidence that Obama abandons promises, Wolfson said that Obama once had stated his support for a "single payer" government-run health system, only to revise his views as he contemplated a presidential bid.
In response, an Obama aide took a jab at Clinton. "We don't need lectures on campaign finance from a campaign that's accepted more money from lobbyists than any other Republican or Democratic candidate who's run for president," said spokesman Bill Burton. "This is a question we will address if and when Obama is the nominee."
A heavy snowstorm forced Clinton to scrap two of her three scheduled appearances in Wisconsin yesterday. Instead, she toured a grocery store in a heavily Hispanic neighborhood in Milwaukee and visited Miss Katie's Diner near Marquette University, surprising patrons.
"She's very personable," Betsy Gonwa said after the New York senator stopped by her table. But Gonwa said she and her husband already had cast absentee ballots for Obama.
"It was a really hard decision, but we heard him speak when he came here a year ago. This is the first time we've seen Hillary," Willy Gonwa said.
Weather also prompted Obama to cancel his only scheduled public appearance of the day, at a town hall in Kaukauna.
Wolfson defended the Clinton campaign's decision to leave Wisconsin a day before tomorrow's primary to campaign in Ohio. Polls show a tight race in Wisconsin even as Clinton advisers have publicly downplayed their expectations for the state.