Clinton's Last Stand

Shifting campaign tone reveals an internal debate over how to wage the battle.

ByABC News via GMA logo
February 25, 2008, 7:44 AM

CINCINNATI, Feb. 25, 2008 — -- Heading out of last week's debate and into the final week of campaigning before the March 4 primaries in Ohio and Texas, which have become must-wins for Hillary Clinton, the New York senator has taken to mocking her Democratic rival's oratory.

"Let's just get everybody together. Let's get unified, the sky will open, the light will come down, celestial choirs will be singing and everyone will know that the world is perfect," Clinton said in Rhode Island Sunday, belittling Obama's soaring oratory.

It's the latest in three distinct tones Clinton has used about Illinois Sen. Barack Obama in the last few days. On Thursday, she almost hugged him, taking his hand on the debate stage as she emphasized, "I am honored to be on the stage with Barack Obama."

On Saturday, she berated him over two mailings circulated by his campaign that she said created division within the Democratic Party that misrepresented her views on the North American Free Trade Agreement and health care.

"Shame on you, Barack Obama. It is time you ran a campaign consistent with your messages in public. That is what I expect from you."

Appearing frustrated if not furious Clinton clutched the two Obama campaign fliers during a news conference in Cincinnati and challenged her party rival to a Ohio debate.

"Enough of the speeches and the big rallies and then using tactics that are right out of Karl Rove's playbook," she said. "This is wrong, and every Democrat ought to be outraged."

NAFTA hits a particular note among union voters in Ohio: Union households, one of former President Clinton's major legacies, make up a quarter of the state's Democratic voters and say the free trade agreement cost them jobs.

Clinton's shifting tone may symbolize internal tensions within the campaign as to how to wage the fight this week amid headlines speculating depressed Clinton staffers and the New York senator's exit from the race for the Democratic nomination if she doesn't win those contests.

Obama tried to shrug off Clinton's attacks last night in Toledo.

"She said, 'well, you know it's just an illusion, it's a delusion to think that somehow you're just going to wish all the special interest power in Washington away.' Well, she's right about that but it doesn't help if you take a million dollars from lobbyists for the special interests," Obama said.