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Mississippi Voters Eye Clinton, Obama

MELISSA BLOCK, host:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.

ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

And I'm Robert Siegel.

Hillary Clinton took her campaign to Mississippi today to try to steal a march on her rival Barack Obama who has been leading in the polls there. Senator Clinton won three primaries this week and wants to start a winning streak of her own after losing a dozen to Senator Obama. And today, she got some more ammunition. An unpaid advisor to the Obama campaign resigned over a report that she had called Senator Clinton a monster in an interview with a British publication.

Well, joining us from Mississippi is NPR's David Greene. And David, another embarrassment for Obama from another of his policy advisers.

DAVID GREENE: Another embarrassment at a time when this was supposed to be perhaps a moment for Barack Obama to regain some momentum. You know, here in Mississippi, a primary on Tuesday and the Wyoming caucuses tomorrow, two contests where the Obama campaign feels they could do well. But now, his campaign again opens the door to Hillary Clinton questioning how he runs his campaign, who he has working for him, their behavior. This is not what he's looking for.

And so Samantha Power is the unpaid advisor. She's a Harvard professor. She was talking to the Scotsman, a Scottish publication and wanted to take back her comment that Hillary Clinton is a monster and try to say it was off the record but it came out anyway. So she resigns and the Clinton campaign really pounced on it.

SIEGEL: It seems that after months of having led a charmed life, Barack Obama now finds himself in one snare after another.

GREENE: It's been a bad 10 days for him. And I think the campaign has to be pretty grateful that it hasn't cost him in delegates. I mean, we have to say even though, you know, these things are making headlines, Barack Obama remains in the delegate lead. And actually, Samantha Power did another interview with the BBC, a separate interview, which gave the Clinton campaign even more ammunition today. Hillary Clinton came out and mentioned that Samantha Power told the BBC that Barack Obama's plan to withdraw troops from Iraq over a 16-month period is really only a best case scenario. And Hillary Clinton really went after Obama on that. Let's give a listen here.

Senator HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (Democrat, New York; Presidential Candidate): He's attacked me continuously for having no hard exit date. And now, we learn he doesn't have one, in fact, he doesn't have a plan at all.

SIEGEL: And yet, despite that, Senator Clinton seems to be peddling a new idea this week, the dream ticket, so to speak, with her in the top spot, Barack Obama as her running mate.

GREENE: Such a strange contrast. She brings it up again today at a rally in Mississippi. You know, Barack Obama has called all this premature, and, you know, though he hasn't ruled it out. But Hillary Clinton today, at a rally, she says that, well, you know, what a historic moment to have both a woman and a African-American running for the Democratic nomination. And then she says this.

Sen. CLINTON: But you got to make a choice. A lot of people wish they didn't have to. I've had people say, I wish I could vote for both of you. Well, that might be possible someday.

SIEGEL: Well, obviously, the idea went over well with the crowd there. David, you're traveling with the Clinton campaign in Mississippi. What are you hearing from the Obama campaign in response to this criticism from Senator Clinton?

GREENE: Well, they've been dealing with these questions. Obama's campaign to the conference call with reporters and they turned a bit negative on their own. I mean, they have been going after Hillary Clinton on the stories that are out now about federal archivists at the Clinton Presidential Library reportedly blocking the release of a lot of documents on pardons that former President Clinton approved. They have been urging Hillary Clinton to release her tax returns earlier than April 15th when the campaign is suggesting they will. So if this back and forth continues, we might see a very negative campaign here. They didn't talk very much about Samantha Power, but the campaign did say that Barack Obama will start to withdraw troops from Iraq if he becomes president.

SIEGEL: Okay, David. Thank you. NPR's David Greene traveling with the Clinton campaign in Mississippi. Take care.

GREENE: Thanks, Robert. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Prior to his retirement, Robert Siegel was the senior host of NPR's award-winning evening newsmagazine All Things Considered. With 40 years of experience working in radio news, Siegel hosted the country's most-listened-to, afternoon-drive-time news radio program and reported on stories and happenings all over the globe, and reported from a variety of locations across Europe, the Middle East, North Africa, and Asia. He signed off in his final broadcast of All Things Considered on January 5, 2018.
David Greene is an award-winning journalist and New York Times best-selling author. He is a host of NPR's Morning Edition, the most listened-to radio news program in the United States, and also of NPR's popular morning news podcast, Up First.