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Clinton, Obama trade fire over campaign tactics

U.S. presidential contenders Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama traded fire over campaign tactics on Tuesday and avoided wading into a debate over whether the New York governor, a fellow Democrat and Clinton backer, should resign in a prostitution scandal.

US Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) speaks during a campaign event at the Forum in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania March 11, 2008. (REUTERS/Tim Shaffer)

As Mississippi voters cast ballots in a Democratic primary election that Obama was expected to win, Clinton told supporters in Pennsylvania her rival's promises did not match his actions. Obama aides accused Clinton of negative campaigning and urged her to elevate the tone.

"My opponent is here in Pennsylvania talking about energy policy and I think specifically about wind energy and that's great," Clinton said. "Except in 2005, when we had a chance to say 'no' to Dick Cheney and his energy bill, my opponent said 'yes' and voted for it with all of those tax subsidies."

She accused Obama of telling voters one thing on issues like NAFTA and Iraq and then telling foreign governments and media something else. An Obama aide recently resigned after calling Clinton a "monster" and telling British media his Iraq strategy was a best case scenario that would be reformulated after the election.

"I've got to tell you, there's a big difference between talk and action," Clinton said. "But if you're going to talk, then you ought to mean what you say."

Obama leads Clinton in the race for delegates to the convention this summer where Democrats will choose their candidate to face Republican John McCain in the November election.

The Obama campaign blasted Clinton for remarks made to a California Web site by former vice presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro, a Clinton supporter.

"If Obama was a white man, he would not be in this position," Ferraro reportedly told "And if he was a woman (of any color) he would not be in this position. He happens to be very lucky to be who he is. And the country is caught up in the concept."


The Clinton campaign has said it disagreed with the comments. But Obama aides and supporters, in a conference call with reporters, urged Clinton to remove Ferraro from her positions of responsibility in the campaign to send a message that the tone needs to be changed.

"Any and all remarks that diminish Senator Obama's candidacy because of race are completely out of line," said Rep. Jan. Schakowsky of Illinois.

Clinton, a New York senator and former first lady, made no mention of the prostitution scandal engulfing her state. Gov. Eliot Spitzer, a former crusading attorney general, has been linked to a high-priced call girl ring, prompting calls for him to step down.

Clinton, who is supported by the governor, sent "best wishes and thoughts" to Spitzer and his family on Monday but made no further comment beyond saying she would "wait and see how things develop." Obama, starting the day in Greenville, Mississippi, also declined to comment on the scandal.

Mississippi voters cast ballots in the Democratic and Republican primary elections on Tuesday. Obama, who would be the first black U.S. president, has done well in other southern states with large black populations and was expected to carry Mississippi as well.

A victory in Mississippi, with 33 delegates at stake, would help Obama increase his lead, but the candidates on Tuesday had already turned their eyes toward the April 22 contest in Pennsylvania, where 158 delegates are at stake.

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