CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — After weeks of being buffeted by criticism in liberal circles for her 2002 vote authorizing the Iraq war, Senator Clinton's campaign is firing back.
Asked about the senator's vote at a Harvard Institute of Politics forum, a strategic adviser to Mrs. Clinton, Mark Penn, said Senator Obama of Illinois has equivocated about his opposition to the war.
"I think Senator Obama, for example … said at the Democratic convention in this city, look, he didn't know exactly how he would have voted if he was in Congress because he did not have the full intelligence," Mr. Penn said. Mr. Obama also said at the 2004 convention that he did not think there was much difference between his and President Bush's positions on Iraq, Mr. Penn said.
"Except for the affirmation of [General George] Casey, which Senator Obama voted to affirm Casey and Senator Clinton didn't, there's very little difference in the Senate," Mr. Penn said. "So this election can't actually turn on these records."
"I regret that Mark went there," a press adviser to Mr. Obama, David Axelrod, said.
Mr. Penn's version of the record is not correct, Mr. Axelrod said. "The full quote was released and the full quote was that Barack Obama was asked at the convention, ‘What do you think about John Kerry and John Edwards casting a vote for the war?' What he said was, ‘I wasn't in the Senate, I don't know what they were looking at, but what I was looking at told me this was the wrong war."
Mr. Axelrod added, "I really think that it is important to run the kind of campaign that will unify our party and move this country forward, that we do it in an honest way, and that was not an honest way."
"Are we going to spend 10 months savaging each other, or are we going to try to lift this country up?" he asked.