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Clinton: Obama camp twists comments on race

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton on Saturday faulted chief rival Barack Obama's campaign for twisting her comments about slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.
/ Source: The Associated Press

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton on Saturday said chief rival Barack Obama's campaign twisted her comments about slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.

Meanwhile, police in Nashua, N.H., said Sidney Blumenthal, a senior adviser to Clinton, was arrested and charged with aggravated drunken driving a day before the New Hampshire primary.

Clinton was questioned by reporters about South Carolina Rep. Jim Clyburn's reaction to her comments last week that seemed to suggest that President Lyndon B. Johnson should get more credit for passage of major civil rights legislation rather than King.

Clyburn, in an interview in The New York Times, had expressed disappointment in the Clinton campaign over what she had said as well as former President Clinton's remark in New Hampshire about Obama telling a "fairy tale" in his opposition to the Iraq war.

"I regret the way that this matter has been used," Clinton told reporters. "The comments about it are baseless and divisive. I was personally offended at the approach taken that was not only misleading but unnecessarily hurtful."

She suggested reporters consider the sources of the criticism, much of which has come from the black community.

"I think it clearly came from Senator Obama's campaign and I don't think it's the kind of debate we should be having in our campaign," she said.

Clyburn, one of the leading Democrats in South Carolina and a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, has said he will remain neutral in the Democratic presidential primary. South Carolina Democrats vote on Jan. 26.

But the reaction to Clinton's remarks — and comments by surrogates for her candidacy — have riled many in the black community. On Friday, her husband, former President Clinton, called the Rev. Al Sharpton's radio program to say his comment about Barack Obama telling a "fairy tale" about opposing the war in Iraq has been misconstrued as a criticism of the senator's White House bid.

"There's nothing 'fairy tale' about his campaign. It's real, it's strong, and he might win," Clinton said in a phone interview for Sharpton's Radio One network talk show.

Clinton said his "fairy tale" remark on the eve of the New Hampshire primary _ won by his wife _ was only intended to describe Obama's claim to have exercised better judgment about the war, not as a sign of "personal disrespect."

Race looms large in the South Carolina primary, where half the Democratic electorate is black. Obama, the winner in Iowa, and Hillary Clinton, the victor in New Hampshire, are counting on a win in the state ahead of the mega-contests on Feb. 5.

Separately, the Clinton campaign named finance co-chairs Maureen White and Hassan Nemazee to help with fundraising.

In the Blumenthal case, police said he was arrested early Monday morning after an officer pulled over a car traveling 70 mph in a 30 mph zone. Blumenthal, 59, is a journalist and former White House adviser to President Bill Clinton who is now serving as an unpaid adviser on Hillary Clinton's campaign.

"I asked if he was here with a campaign. He said he was here with Clinton," Sgt. Mike Masella, one of the arresting officers, told

Masella said Blumenthal told him he got lost after leaving a restaurant in Manchester, about 20 miles away, to return to his hotel.

Smelling alcohol, officers said they administered a field sobriety test, which Blumenthal failed. Though Blumenthal declined to take a Breathalyzer test, he was arrested on a charge of aggravated drunken driving due to the speed, Masella said.

A handcuffed Blumenthal spent about four hours at a police station before being bailed out Monday morning, Masella said. He'll be arraigned later this month.