Hillary Clinton’s top advisers charge that the presidential candidate was unfairly targeted by moderator Tim Russert during Tuesday night’s Democratic debate in Philadelphia.
Russert asked Clinton a number of tough questions during the MSNBC-sponsored debate, including one on Social Security and another on the release of documents from the Bill Clinton administration, as she sought to fend off attacks from her Democratic rivals.
Mark Penn, Clinton’s senior strategist, said: “Russert made it appear that President Clinton had done something new or unusual” in regard to the release of documents.
“I think there will be further clarification.”
Penn and Jonathan Mantz, the campaign’s finance director, told supporters on a conference call after the debate that the Clinton campaign needed more money to fight back after what some observers termed a shaky performance at the debate.
One caller from Oklahoma said the questions put to Hillary “were designed to incite a brawl,” and that Russert’s and fellow moderator Brian Williams’ moderating was “an abdication of journalistic responsibility,” according to The Hill newspaper.
Another caller said Russert “should be shot.”
At one point Russert asked Clinton: “I want to clear something up which goes to the issue of credibility. You were asked at the AARP debate whether or not you would consider taxing, lifting the cap from $97,500, taxing that, raising more money for Social Security. You said, quote, ‘It's a no.’ I asked you the same question in New Hampshire, and you said ‘no.’
“Then you went to Iowa and you went up to Tod Bowman, a teacher, and had a conversation with him saying, ‘I would consider lifting the cap perhaps above $200,000.’ You were overheard by an Associated Press reporter saying that.
“Why do you have one public position and one private position?”
Penn complained: “The other candidates were asked questions like, ‘Is there life in outer space?’” – a reference to Dennis Kucinich being queried about his claim that he had seen a UFO.
The Clinton campaign released a video Wednesday titled “The Politics of Pile On,” showing clips of Hillary’s rivals going after her during the debate, The Hill reported.
But Bill Burton, spokesman for the Barack Obama campaign, said in a memo: “The ‘politics of hope’ doesn’t mean you don’t have to answer tough questions.”
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