IMAGE: Kenneth Starr
Ron Edmonds  /  AP
Some say a Hillary Clinton aide's injection of prosecutor Kenneth Starr into the 2008 political race is one more way for Clinton to depict herself as a victim of enemies out to get her.
updated 3/6/2008 3:35:44 PM ET 2008-03-06T20:35:44

A top aide to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton on Thursday compared rival Sen. Barack Obama to independent prosecutor Kenneth Starr.

Clinton spokesman Howard Wolfson said Obama's statement that he plans to be more critical of Clinton's record is reminiscent of the attacks the Clintons endured during the investigations in the 1990s.

"Our point here is to point out that after a campaign in which many of the questions that voters had in the closing days centered on concerns that they had over his state of preparedness to be commander in chief and steward of the economy, he has chosen instead of addressing those issues to attack Senator Clinton," Wolfson told reporters in a conference call. "They've announced that this is what they are going to do.

"I for one do not believe that imitating Ken Starr is the way to win a Democratic primary election for president. But perhaps that theory will be tested," he said.

By raising Starr's name, Wolfson revived memories of the investigation that led to former President Clinton's impeachment. But many Democrats feel the Starr investigation was politically motivated, and injecting Starr into the debate is one more way for Clinton to depict herself as a victim of enemies out to get her. She's already complained recently about the media being against her.

On the attack
After losing three out of four contests Tuesday night, Obama told reporters Wednesday that he plans to increase his criticism of Clinton's record in coming days.

His campaign also has been attacking her for refusing to release her tax returns. The Clinton campaign said all the Clintons' returns since they left the White House will be made public around April 15.

Obama spokesman Bill Burton said the comparison to Starr is "absurd" when Clinton has been calling for more scrutiny of Obama's record.

"We don't believe that expecting candidates for the presidency to disclose their tax returns somehow constitutes Ken Starr tactics, but the kind of transparency and accountability that Americans are looking for and that's been missing in Washington for far too long," Burton said in a statement. "And if Senator Clinton doesn't think that the Republicans will ask these very same questions, then she's not as ready to go toe-to-toe with John McCain as she claims."

Wolfson offered two examples that he argued were similar to the tactics that Starr used in his investigation.

He cited a memo from the Obama campaign that called on Clinton to release "her tax returns, the accompanying schedules, and attachments." The memo cited a Wall Street Journal editorial that said Bill Clinton released their tax returns from 1980 forward when he ran in 1992. "But they steadfastly refused to release their returns for prior years, and only later did we learn that 1978 and 1979 were the tax years when Mrs. Clinton reported her 10,000 percent cattle-futures trading profit," said the editorial excerpt included in the memo.

He also cited two quotes this week from Obama senior adviser David Axelrod. In one, Axelrod complained to Time magazine, "We still don't have the records from the Clinton library." And on ABC's "This Week" Sunday, he referenced the Whitewater land deal. "I would think that the Clinton campaign would be the last person to be wanting to characterize any real estate transaction as unusual," Axelrod said.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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