How Obama's Got Clinton Scrambling

ByABC News via logo
January 18, 2007, 7:32 AM

Jan. 18, 2007 — -- Prospective Democratic presidential candidates Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama already seem to be battling for an edge in the race for the White House in 2008.

On Wednesday, Clinton went on the attack, calling for a cap on U.S. troops sent to Iraq. Minutes after Clinton released her plan, Obama responded, continuing to provide late-night comics with fodder for jokes and making people wonder whether competition between the two might get ugly.

"The No. 1 little-known fact about Barack Obama: [He's] only running for president to piss off Hillary," David Letterman said on Tuesday.

"That's the big rumor -- that Barack will officially announce on the 'Oprah' show. I think Hillary will announce on 'Trading Spouses,'" Jay Leno said on his show.

At the very least, the tension is unsettling for the Clinton camp.

Consider the Iraq matchup: Obama, who was not in the Senate for the original vote on the Iraq War, has steadily opposed the conflict.

Clinton has evolved from supporting troop increases in 2003 to accusing former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld of "presiding over a failed policy" and advocating a change in course in 2006.

Though the change in Clinton's views also seems to mirror the nation's -- and the increasingly grim situation in Iraq -- she could appear politically calculating while Obama seems principled.

The two diverge at the podium, too. Next to Obama's fluid poetry, Clinton's delivery can seem overly cautious.

"Sen. Clinton can be very compelling in front of a crowd. On the other hand, Sen. Obama has a gift, and there are certain things in politics you can't teach," said Dee Dee Myers, former President Clinton's press secretary.

A devout Methodist, Clinton rarely talks about religion while Obama speaks freely about faith.

"I believe that we all rise up together or we fall together," he has said.

When it comes to the glamour factor, between the two, it's a draw -- for now.