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Clinton faults Obama campaign for twisting her comments on race

RENO, NEV. - Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton on Saturday faulted chief rival Barack Obama's campaign for twisting her comments about slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.


RENO, NEV. - Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton on Saturday faulted chief rival Barack Obama's campaign for twisting her comments about slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.

Clinton was questioned by reporters about South Carolina Representative Jim Clyburn's reaction to her comments last week that seemed to suggest that president Lyndon Johnson should get more credit for passage of major civil rights legislation rather than King.

Clyburn, in an interview in the New York Times, had expressed disappointment in the Clinton campaign over what she had said as well as former president Bill Clinton's remark in New Hampshire about Obama telling a "fairy tale" in his opposition to the Iraq war.

"I regret the way that this matter has been used," Clinton told reporters. "The comments about it are baseless and divisive. I was personally offended at the approach taken that was not only misleading but unnecessarily hurtful."

She suggested reporters consider the sources of the criticism, much of which has come from the black community.

"I think it clearly came from Senator Obama's campaign and I don't think it's the kind of debate we should be having in our campaign," she said.

Clyburn, one of the leading Democrats in South Carolina and a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, has said he will remain neutral in the Democratic presidential primary. South Carolina Democrats vote Jan. 26.

But the reaction to Clinton's remarks - and comments by surrogates for her candidacy - have riled many in the black community. On Friday, her husband, former president Clinton, called Rev. Al Sharpton's radio program to say his comment about Barack Obama telling a "fairy tale" about opposing the war in Iraq has been misconstrued as a criticism of the senator's White House bid.

"There's nothing 'fairy tale' about his campaign. It's real, it's strong, and he might win," Clinton said in a phone interview for Sharpton's Radio One network talk show.

Clinton said his "fairy tale" remark on the eve of the New Hampshire primary - won by his wife - was only intended to describe Obama's claim to have exercised better judgment about the war, not as a sign of "personal disrespect."

Race looms large in the South Carolina primary, where half the Democratic electorate is black. Obama, the winner in Iowa, and Hillary Clinton, the victor in New Hampshire, are counting on a win in the state ahead of the mega-contests Feb. 5.

Separately, the Clinton campaign named finance co-chairs Maureen White and Hassan Nemazee to help with fundraising.

 
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