New Clinton Surrogate Raises Obama's Drug Use

| Sun Jan. 13, 2008 5:15 PM PST

clinton_obama_profile.jpg The Clinton folks aren't letting anyone forget about Barack Obama's drug use. Just one month after New Hampshire campaign co-chair Billy Shaheen (now resigned) raised the possibility of Obama selling drugs as a teenager, Black Entertainment Television founder Bob Johnson said at a Hillary Clinton rally:

"And to me, as an African-American, I am frankly insulted that the Obama campaign would imply that we are so stupid that we would think Hillary and Bill Clinton, who have been deeply and emotionally involved in black issues since Barack Obama was doing something in the neighborhood –­ and I won't say what he was doing, but he said it in the book –­ when they have been involved."

The probability of Johnson freelancing on this is incredibly low. The Clinton campaign has a track record of using surrogates to do its dirty work. A Hill staffer who is supporting Clinton but is unaffiliated with the campaign told me he loved the Clinton campaign's hardball tactics. "The Clintons are so gangster," he said. "I love it!"

I'll just say this. When I found out Obama admitted to using marijuana and cocaine in his early writings, I gave him credit. Most politicians would try to bury stuff like that. Obama put it on the table, even though he must have known it would eventually be used against him. I assumed it would be used against him by Republicans; perhaps that was naive. The Obama campaign has chosen not to bring up some of the nastier parts of the Clintons' past (he has gone only so far as to say that America doesn't need to refight the "fights of the '90s"), and that's obviously part of his take-the-high-road approach. But I'm growning skeptical of that plan's chances of success. Even if Obama is committed to hitting back hard when attacked, he will still be on the defensive for the entire campaign.

As I've said before, you don't win by playing nice. But if Obama plays nasty, he'll undercut his brand. It's tough out there for a positive campaigner.

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