Dems to Clinton: Don't Say Anything to Hurt Us

A Democrat compares Clinton to the Glenn Close stalker in "Fatal Attraction."

ByJake Tapper

May 12, 2008— -- Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., pressed her campaign ahead of Tuesday's West Virginia primary as Democratic Party leaders warned her not to do or say anything that could hurt Democratic front-runner Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., in November.

Clinton is considered likely to win West Virginia's primary, perhaps by as many as 30 percentage points, but the victory in the small state is not expected to shake Obama's apparent hold on the party's nomination.

What Democrats fear could have a lasting impact is what Clinton might say about Obama that could split the party or be gleefully reused by Republican John McCain in the fall election.

Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn, an Obama supporter, compared Clinton to the Glenn Close character in "Fatal Attraction" -- a spurned woman turned stalker who was apparently drowned in a bathtub only to jump up one more time to be shot dead.

"Glenn Close should have stayed in that tub, and Sen. Clinton has had a remarkable career and needs to move to the next step, which is helping elect the Democratic nominee," Cohen said during a local TV interview. He later apologized for his comments.

Onetime Democratic contender John Edwards was more delicate in his warning that Clinton be careful how she campaigns in the few remaining primaries.

"She has to be really careful she's not damaging our prospects, the Democratic Party and our cause for the fall," Edwards said on CBS's "Face the Nation."

But there's also the message former President Bill Clinton delivers to blue collar white voters as he makes his way throughout West Virginia, painting Obama and his supporters as looking down on these voters.

"They make a lot of fun of me because I like to campaign in places like this," he told a small-town crowd in West Virginia this weekend. "They said I had been exiled to rural America, as if that were a problem."

A big decision Hillary Clinton must make as she goes forward is whether to spend money from her campaign, which is already in debt, to run negative TV ads against Obama. Right now she's on TV in West Virginia, Kentucky and Oregon, but the ads are all positive. Will she pull the trigger and run ads trashing the man who is all but certain to be her party's nominee?

Clinton spent her third day out of the last five days stumping in West Virginia, but her own optimism may have slipped at times.

In the town of Eleanor, W. Va., Sunday night, it wasn't clear whether Clinton tripped over a pronoun or was trying to score points with women voters.

"All the kitchen table issues that everybody talks to me about are ones that the next president can actually do something about, if he actually cares about it," she said at a rally.


She caught herself. "More likely, if she cares about it," Clinton added.

Publicly, Clinton rejected any suggestion that she drop out and quoted Eleanor Roosevelt, saying, "A woman is like a tea bag. You never know strong she is until she is in hot water."

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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