Obama & Clinton Spar Over Novak Claims of “Dirt”

By Lindsay Hamilton

Nov 17, 2007 2:16pm

ABC News’ David Wright reports: A provocative item today from columnist Robert Novak has the Obama campaign stirred up.

Novak writes that "agents of Sen. Hillary Clinton are spreading the word" that they have some sort of scandalous dirt on Obama, but Clinton’s campaign has decided "not to use it." 

Novak’s blind item prompted an angry response from Obama saying he’ll not be deterred by "the old Swift Boat politics."

"If the purpose of this shameless item was to daunt or discourage me or supporters of our campaign from challenging and changing the politics of Washington, it will fail," an Obama campaign statement said.

The statement also called on Clinton to respond, saying, "Senator Clinton should either make public any and all information referred to in the item, or concede the truth: that there is none."

The Clinton campaign responded by saying, "Once again Obama is echoing Republican talking points."

True or false, the scurrilous little item from Novak succeeded in getting both campaigns to sling the mud.

Clinton’s statement sniped at Obama’s supposed inexperience, saying, "Voters should be concerned about the readiness of any Democrat inexperienced enough to fall for this."

That prompted a taunt from Obama’s campaign on Clinton’s supposed evasions.  A further statement from campaign manager David Ploufe answered the Clinton statement as follows: "The ‘experience’ America’s looking for today is not the practiced Washington art of evasion and deflection. Once again, the Clinton campaign refuses to answer two simple, direct questions: Are ‘agents’ of their campaign spreading these rumors? And do they have ‘scandalous’ information that they are not releasing? Yes or no?"

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