LAS VEGAS, Jan. 18, 2008 — -- With only hours to go before Nevada Democrats begin caucusing, Barack Obama took a new tact in his battle with Hillary Clinton — laughing at her criticism of him.
The Nevada caucus — the first time the Silver State has played a crucial early role in the presidential sweepstakes — will be held Saturday and both senators are hoping to pull off a victory.
Obama won the Iowa caucuses and Clinton pulled off an upset win in New Hampshire. Whoever claims victory in Nevada will also be able to lay claim to the momentum as the Democratic campaign would then head to South Carolina.
As the countdown to the caucus nears, the candidates tweaked their tone in their final pitches.
Clinton launched an air assault with a radio ad that accused him of having financial ties to supporters of the proposed Yucca Mountain nuclear waste site, a sensitive issue in Nevada.
Obama opened a town hall meeting by drawing laughs as he went point by point through Clinton's attempts to discredit or criticize his record.
Obama brought up, in almost comic perplexity, Clinton's criticisms over his recent debate answers, the bankruptcy bill, Yucca Mountain, Social Security and lobbyists. He presented himself, by contrast, as the one who is the straight shooter, and Clinton as a candidate who will say anything to get elected.
Responding to the fallout from Tuesday's debate question over each candidate's weakness, Obama mentioned his messy desk and said that he loses paper easily.
"So I thought, ya know, 'cause I'm like an ordinary person, I thought that they meant 'what's your biggest weakness?' … So the other two [Clinton and John Edwards] they say, they say well my biggest weakness is 'I'm just too passionate about helping poor people.' 'I am just too impatient to bring about change in America,'" Obama said.
"If I had gone last, I would have known what the game was. I could have said, 'Well ya know, I like to help old ladies across the street. Sometimes they don't want to be helped. It's terrible.'"