A dispute over words has erupted in the Democratic presidential campaign, with Hillary Clinton’s camp calling on rival Barack Obama to disavow a Hollywood movie mogul’s remarks. Movie-maker David Geffen was a big donor to Bill Clinton’s White House campaigns, but this time around he’s backing Barack Obama.
Geffen, who threw a Hollywood fundraiser for Obama this week, said in an interview with the New York Times that Bill Clinton had been "reckless" and his wife is "ambitious" and "polarizing." Hillary Clinton’s campaign demanded that Obama denounce those remarks. "Why would I be apologize for someone else’s remarks?" Obama said during a news conference on the steps of the Iowa statehouse.
Obama said he is "absolutely" proud to have Geffen as a supporter. "My sense is that Mr. Geffen may have differences with the Clintons," Obama said. "That really doesn’t have anything to do with our campaign."
According to Obama, he cannot be responsible for everything that’s said by every one of his supporters. "I mean we’ve got thousands of people who are contributing, some who may have real differences with the other candidates," Obama said. "…My suspicion is that the voters of Iowa are probably more concerned about what both myself and Senator Clinton think about Iraq and health care and jobs and the issues that matter to them."
The Clinton campaign had local supporter Bonnie Campbell, the former Iowa Attorney General who worked in the U.S. Justice Department during the Clinton Administration, speak with Iowa reporters about the flap. According to Campbell, it is especially insulting for Geffen to ridicule Hillary Clinton for being "ambitious." "That is a standard sort of comment that people make to somehow suggest that women are doing something they shouldn’t be doing," Campbell told Radio Iowa.
During an appearance in the state of Nevada Wednesday afternoon, Mrs. Clinton was asked about the flap. "Well, I want to run a very positive campaign and I sure don’t want Democrats or the supporters of Democrats to be engaging in the politics of personal destruction. I think we should stay focused on what we’re going to do for America," Hillary Clinton said. "You know, I believe Bill Clinton was a good president and I’m very proud of his record of two terms."
Former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack, another one of the Democrats who’s running for the White House, issued a statement late Wednesday calling on Geffen to apologize for his statements about the Clintons.
"The Democratic Party doesn’t have time for this kind of negative politics," Vilsack said. "…The country doesn’t want to go down this road of personal insults. After seven years of George Bush’s disasters, we must learn how to disagree without being disagreeable."