Next week marks the unofficial start of the presidential primary campaigns, what will be a breakneck pace of fund-raising and politicking at least until January (not that it hasn’t gone on already).
There’s already been much speculation of how seriously Barack Obama’s campaign will challenge Hillary Clinton, especially when it comes to Obama’s "experience" issue.
On Saturday, before a hip crowd at Falcon Restaurant, Obama’s new California Campaign director Mitchell Schwartz perhaps offered a preview of harsh rhetoric to come when he "took the gloves off" and focused on Clinton’s experience. He cited her stint in the late 1980s on the Wal Mart board of directors, "While they perfected the art of denying health care and retirement benefits for their workers."
Schwartz continued, "In the 1990s, she headed the health care task force. She couldn’t get anything through a Democratically controlled Congress. We had all of Congress and not one piece of legislation got through. Now there are more uniusured Americans that ever. Because of that debacle, we lost Congress, and I was there. I was working for the Clinton administration at the time. We lost Congress, there were a bunch of investigations, it led to impeachment and we wasted the last bunch of years of the Clinton administration. Now let’s go to this decade. She voted to authorize the war in October of 2002. She didn’t read the National Intelligence Estimate. This was something that was available to all 100 senators. And in fact it was so important that Bob Graham, who was the chairman of the intelligence committee then, he’s a conservative Democrat, he read the report… and it convinced him to vote against it. She didn’t bother reading it."
He added, "Experience without judgment leads to Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney."
Schwartz then noted, "Barack Obama, when he takes office in 2009 will be older than JFK and older than Bill Clinton (at their inaugurals). He will have served in government for more time than Hillary Clinton and John Edwards."
Many in the crowd were young industry professionals, part of a new fund-raising and organizing group called Generation Obama. Saturday marked the kickoff of such groups across the country.
Clinton’s California spokesperson, Luis Vizcaino, had this response: "Senator Obama says he wants to change politics but attacking other Democrats in the face of falling poll numbers screams status quo. The reality is that Senator Clinton has been a change advocate for over 35 years and has the strength and experience to make change happen starting on day one of her presidency."