Democratic White House candidate Barack Obama on Wednesday said rival Hillary Rodham Clinton is too polarizing to win the presidency and she has taken positions shared by President Bush and Republican candidate John McCain for political expediency.
Obama depicted Clinton as a calculating, poll-tested divisive figure who will only inspire greater partisan divisions as she sides with Republicans on issues like trade, the role of lobbyists in politics and national security. At the same time, he elevated McCain, fresh off victory in Florida's crucial primary, as the likely Republican nominee.
"Democrats will win in November and build a majority in Congress not by nominating a candidate who will unite the other party against us, but by choosing one who can unite this country around a movement for change," Obama said, speaking as rival John Edwards was pulling out of the race in New Orleans, leaving a Clinton-Obama fight for the Democratic nomination.
"It is time for new leadership that understands the way to win a debate with John McCain or any Republican who is nominated is not by nominating someone who agreed with him on voting for the war in Iraq or who agreed with him in voting to give George Bush the benefit of the doubt on Iran, who agrees with him in embracing the Bush-Cheney policy of not talking to leaders we don't like, who actually differed with him by arguing for exceptions for torture before changing positions when the politics of the moment changed," Obama said.
"We need to offer the American people a clear contrast on national security, and when I am the nominee of the Democratic Party, that is exactly what I will do," he said.
Clinton campaign says Obama abandoned pledge
The Clinton campaign said Obama was abandoning his pledge to run a positive campaign by making misleading attacks on her record.
"Senator Obama laments this kind of politics in his book, 'Audacity of Hope,'" her campaign responded in a Web posting that contained a quote from page 133 of the book: "That is how most of my colleagues, Republican and Democrat, enter the Senate ... their words distorted, and their motives questioned."
Obama drew more than 10,000 people to his speech at the University of Denver. They packed a hockey arena and crammed into two overflow rooms and still were lined up outside to get in. Colorado is a caucus state, one of 22 to hold nominating contests Tuesday, and is one of a handful of states where the Obama campaign is predicting victory. Clinton has the advantage in several others, while several are still up for grabs.
Obama said he understands voters might feel some comfort at the idea of returning to another President Clinton after eight years of Bush. But he cautioned voters not to buy the argument that Clinton's experience is what the country needs.
"It is about the past versus the future," said Obama, who picked up an endorsement from the New York Post on Wednesday ahead of Democratic contests on Super Tuesday next week. "And when I am the nominee, the Republicans won't be able to make this election about the past.
"If you choose change, you will have a nominee who doesn't just tell people what they want to hear," Obama told them. "Poll-tested positions, calculated answers might be how Washington confronts challenges, but it's not how you overcome those challenges; it's not how you inspire our nation to come together behind a common purpose, and it's not what America needs right now. You need a candidate who will tell you the truth."