By Leonard Doyle in Washington | The Independent, Feb 26, 2008
With her back against the wall, Hillary Clinton has been accused of turning to the sort of smear tactics more commonly associated with Republicans, in an attempt to block her opponent Barack Obama from getting the Democratic nomination. Over the weekend her campaign allegedly circulated a photograph of Mr Obama wearing the turban and traditional dress of a Somali elder.
For the past year the Obama team has been fighting back against a whispering campaign that he is a dangerous Muslim. Mr Obama was born a Christian and attends a United Church of Christ congregation in Chicago. Whoever is responsible for the release of the photograph, ahead of votes in Texas and Ohio next week, it appears to be an attempt to use rumour and innuendo to derail Mr Obama’s buoyant campaign.
Mr Obama’s campaign manager, David Plouffe, said: “On the very day that Senator Clinton is giving a speech about restoring respect for America in the world, her campaign has engaged in the most shameful, offensive fear-mongering we’ve seen from either party in this election. This is part of a disturbing pattern that led her county chairs to resign in Iowa, her campaign chairman to resign in New Hampshire, and it’s exactly the kind of divisive politics that turns away Americans of all parties and diminishes respect for America in the world.”
Mr Obama’s foreign policy adviser, Susan Rice, who worked on Bill Clinton’s National Security Policy staff, said the circulation of the photograph was divisive and suggested “that the customs and cultures of other parts of the world are worthy of ridicule or condemnation”.