ABC News’ Sunlen Miller Reports: This afternoon in South Carolina, Sen. Barack Obama’s economic-themed press conference was quickly dominated by questions surrounding the tone of his Palmetto State campaign and, of course, the Clintons.
Obama insisted he has stayed true to the tone set at the beginning of his campaign, that he’s not giving up on the politics of hope, even in the wake of a scathing radio ad his campaign released just today in SC describing Democratic rival Hillary Clinton as an elected official who will "say anything and change nothing."
Obama responded today by defending his ad as "straightfoward". And later during the press conference backed up repeated questions about the tone of the campaign, with the excuse of defending his own record, "I always asserted that we are not going to allow my record to be distorted."
"When you run an ad making assertions that everyone who looked at it says are wrong…and you still make it, then that would indicate that you’re not that concerned about accuracy or the truth. And one principle that I think we want to firmly establish is if people are making false assertions about my record, we will answer it," Obama countered.
Obama said he never underestimated the Clinton machine, but that "some in the press" did.
"The Clinton operation is a tough, well-honed political machine built up over the course of 20 years. We have always been the underdogs in this campaign. We have always been the outsiders, the insurgent campaign," Obama said.
Obama continued: "Sen. Clinton starts off with enormous institutional advantages. She is known by 100 percent of the American people. Many democrats have very fond memories of her husband tenure. The expectation should always be that they are the favorites."
Address the Bill Clinton factor directly Obama sought to "dispose of this whole issue".
The Clinton campaign, Obama says, is accountable for Bill Clinton’s assertions about his record.
"I don’t think you can distance yourself from comments that he made. But I am perfectly comfortable with him campaigning for her. I would expect no less in the same way that Michelle is campaigning for me. So I just want to make clear — all I’m concerned about is making sure my record does not get distorted," Obama said.
Asked if he feels the Clintons are trying to portray him as the "black candidate" Obama said, "I’ll let the Clintons speak to what their strategy is going to be.". He used the opportunity remind reporters that he won in Iowa and got the most delegates in Nevada, winning in a predominantly white areas. Of Nevada he said "the areas where I won by the biggest margin was on of the most conservative rural white areas of the state and so clearly we’ve been able to reach out to across the board and that’s what we’re going to do here in SC."
Obama also said that the political back-and-forth shouldn’t dissuade African-Americans from voting. He said that Clinton’s "vigorous campaign" against him should be "a source of pride" and that it "is good practice for me, so when I take on those Republicans I’ll be accustomed to it.
Obama also says the press clips speak for themselves in regard to whether or not the media gives him an "easy ride".
"I got great press for about a month after I announced," Obama said. "We got good press because we raised more money than people had expected. Then there was a stretch for about six months when we couldn’t do anything right. Take a look at some of these stories. And I have to say we weren’t out there griping about it. We weren’t complaining when other campaigns were touted as flawless and we were the gang that couldn’t shoot straight. You didn’t hear us griping and moaning all the time."