Bill Clinton, Your Ears Must Be Burning

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The Obama campaign pulled out the big guns today on Bill Clinton, saying his tactics are dirty and beneath him. Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill, who has endorsed Obama, fired the first salvo on a conference call arranged by the campaign:

“Because of the larger megaphone that (Bill Clinton) has a former president he needs to be very careful with the truth. This is not a time to play fast and loose with the facts and as long as he is careful with the truth then I don’t think any of us in any way resent his campaigning. But the fact that he has shaded things and has tried to manipulate the facts in a way that is patently unfair, I think that is, frankly, flat wrong and I think it’s demeaning.”

Bill Clinton raised money for McCaskill, who won her seat from Republican Jim Talent in 2006. But this isn’t the first time McCaskill has slammed the former president. In October 2006 she told Tim Russert that she wouldn’t let her daughter near Clinton.

Also on the call was Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano, who followed up on McCaskill’s comments a little more diplomatically, simply saying:

“The way he goes about it, what he says and the tone he uses, he’s not a regular spouse now, he is a former president of the United States. We recognize that at the end of this nomination trail Democrats need to come together and elect the next president of the United States so we need to conduct this campaign in a way that allows us to come back together after Denver.”

At the same time the Obama campaign sent out a blog column by former Clinton Labor Secretary Robert Reich, who isn’t endorsing a candidate. It’s worth a full read, but in part, he says:

“I write this more out of sadness than anger. Bill Clinton’s ill-tempered and ill-founded attacks on Barack Obama are doing no credit to the former President, his legacy, or his wife’s campaign. Nor are they helping the Democratic party. While it may be that all is fair in love, war, and politics, it’s not fair – indeed, it’s demeaning – for a former President to say things that are patently untrue (such as Obama’s anti-war position is a “fairy tale”) or to insinuate that Obama is injecting race into the race when the former President is himself doing it.”