Clinton camp blasts Obama on financing

Democratic presidential hopeful U.S. Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., speaks during a news conference on the steps of the Iowa Capitol Building, Wednesday, in Des Moines, Iowa. Fundraising has ignited a spat between the two camps. The Associated Press

Democratic presidential hopeful U.S. Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., speaks during a news conference on the steps of the Iowa Capitol Building, Wednesday, in Des Moines, Iowa. Fundraising has ignited a spat between the two camps. The Associated Press

By The Associated Press

WASHINGTON – The rival presidential campaigns of Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama accused each other of nasty politics Wednesday over a Hollywood donor who once backed Bill Clinton but now supports Obama.

Amid the Democrats’ accusations in tit-for-tat news releases, Clinton tried to remain above the fray.

“I’m just going to stay focused on my campaign and I’m going to run a positive campaign about the issues that affect the people in our country,” she said.

The Clinton campaign sent out a testy news release after DreamWorks movie studio founder David Geffen, a fan of Illinois Sen. Obama, told The New York Times that New York Sen. Clinton was ambitious and polarizing.

“CLINTON CAMP TO OBAMA: CUT TIES & RETURN CASH AFTER TOP BOOSTERS VICIOUS ATTACKS,” screamed the headline.

Geffen hosted a $1.3 million fundraiser for Obama on Tuesday.

The Clinton campaign argued that Obama had pledged to bring a more civil tone to the campaign but that Geffen’s words amounted to “slash and burn” politics.

Geffen was once a top donor to President Clinton, but he said in the interview that Clinton is “a reckless guy” and he doesn’t think Sen. Clinton can bring the country together during a time of war, no matter how smart or ambitious she is.

The senator was asked about Geffen’s comments as she appeared in front of a Democratic candidates’ forum in Nevada. “I believe Bill Clinton was a good president and I’m very proud of the record of his two terms,” she said to raucous applause from the partisan audience.

Her communications director, Howard Wolfson, said there is no room in the campaign for “personal insults.”

“If Senator Obama is indeed sincere about his repeated claims to change the tone of our politics, he should immediately denounce these remarks, remove Mr. Geffen from his campaign and return his money,” Wolfson said.

The Obama campaign declined to denounce Geffen or give back any money and issued its own statement, criticizing Clinton.

“We aren’t going to get in the middle of a disagreement between the Clintons and someone who was once one of their biggest supporters,” Obama communications director Robert Gibbs said in a statement. “It is ironic that the Clintons had no problem with David Geffen when he was raising them $18 million and sleeping at their invitation in the Lincoln bedroom.”

Then Gibbs added another criticism of Clinton.

“It is also ironic that Senator Clinton lavished praise on Monday and is fully willing to accept today the support of South Carolina state Sen. Robert Ford, who said if Barack Obama were to win the nomination, he would drag down the rest of the Democratic Party because ‘he’s black,'” Gibbs’ statement said.

Ford drew rampant criticism for his views and later apologized. The Clinton campaign said it disagreed with Ford, but the senator has embraced his support.

Gibbs’ statement brought another response from the Clinton camp.

“How can Senator Obama denounce the politics of slash and burn yesterday while his own campaign is espousing the politics of trash today?” Wolfson asked in a news release.

Geffen issued a two-sentence statement in which he corrected Wolfson’s characterization of him as Obama’s finance director. Geffen has no official role with the campaign, other than hosting one of its fundraisers. Geffen added that he was accurately quoted in the Times and said the comments “reflect solely my personal beliefs regarding the Clintons.”

Fundraising is critical, underscored by an appeal from former President Clinton to raise $1 million for his wife in netroots contributions over the next week.

“All across the country, Hillary is campaigning with the signature wisdom, grace, and humor that make her a great candidate,” he said in the letter.