By Lisa Wangsness, Globe Staff
Bill Shaheen resigned today as Hillary Clinton's campaign co-chairman in New Hampshire after Clinton apologized to Barack Obama for Shaheen saying that Obama's drug experimentation as a youth would be an issue in the general election.
"I would like to reiterate that I deeply regret my comments yesterday and say again that they were in no way authorized by Senator Clinton or the Clinton campaign....I made a mistake and in light of what happened, I have made the personal decision that I will step down as the co-chair of the Hillary for President campaign," Shaheen said in a statement released by the campaign. "This election is too important and we must all get back to electing the best qualified candidate who has the record of making change happen in this country. That candidate is Hillary Clinton."
Clinton's campaign quickly distanced itself from Shaheen's remark, made Wednesday in an interview with The Washington Post.
Shaheen, the husband of former governor Jeanne Shaheen, said Republicans would exploit Obama's experimentation with drugs in a general election, hurting his chances of getting elected.
"It'll be, 'When was the last time? Did you ever give drugs to anyone? Did you sell them to anyone?' " Shaheen said in the interview. "There are so many openings for Republican dirty tricks. It's hard to overcome."
Earlier today, Obama's campaign leaders in New Hampshire demanded that Clinton's campaign refrain from "gratuitous" character attacks.
"Such tactics have no place in New Hampshire, they have no place in this race and they do nothing to solve our problems," state Senator Martha Fuller Clark, a co-chairwoman of Obama's New Hampshire campaign, said at a press conference in Concord.
A Clinton spokeswoman said that Clinton personally apologized to Obama this morning at Reagan National Airport on their way to Iowa for the last debate before the Jan. 3 caucuses, telling the Illinois senator that personal attacks are not part of her campaign.