Clinton on photo: ‘Why is anybody concerned about this?”

By Jacqueline Klingebiel

Feb 25, 2008 6:02pm

ABC News’ Teddy Davis and Jacqueline Klingebiel Report: During a Monday interview with ABC’s Dallas affiliate, Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., did not flatly deny the DrudgeReport’s charge that her campaign forwarded a photo of rival Barack Obama in traditional African dress.

She then turned the tables on her Democratic rival and accused him of using the controversy to distract the public’s attention from deficiencies in his platform and experience.

"I know nothing about it," Clinton told ABC affiliate WFAA. "This is in the public domain. But let’s just stop and ask yourself: ‘Why are you — why is anybody concerned about this?’"

Clinton said that she found questions about whether her campaign sent the photo to the DrudgeReport to be "really laughable."

"This is one more attempt by my opponent’s campaign to change the subject," said Clinton, "From his health-care plan that won’t cover everybody, from an economic plan that won’t produce jobs, and from a record that is pretty thin when it comes to national security and standing up for our country around the world."

The former first lady argued that there are photos of her from around the world wearing "the costume of the country" she was visiting.

"Every time I traveled to foreign countries, I wore the costume of the country. You can find dozen of pictures of me in different parts of the world," said Clinton. "You can find me wearing African outfits, Latin American outfits, Asian outfits, when you travel to foreign countries, it’s a sign of respect. What  does that have to do with anything?"

During a Monday conference call with reporters, Clinton communications director Howard Wolfson said that the former first lady’s campaign "did not sanction" the leaking of the photo. But he stopped short of denying whether a Clinton aide may have passed it to the DrudgeReport.

"I’m not in a position to ask 700 people to come in," said Wolfson.

Back in October, The New York Times identified Tracy Sefl as the Clinton campaign’s conduit to the DrudgeReport.

Asked by ABC News on Monday if she gave the photo to the DrudgeReport, Sefl, who is vice president at the Glover Park Group, said, "no."

Like Wolfson, she could not speak for all Clinton campaign associates.

Asked if she has contacted the DrudgeReport to seek a correction to its claim that the Clinton campaign is the source of the photo, she said, "No comment."

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