| PROVIDENCE, R.I.
PROVIDENCE, R.I. Feb 24 Democratic
presidential hopefuls Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama
sharpened their attacks on each other on Sunday, trading barbs
over health care, trade and experience as they head for key
showdowns in Texas and Ohio on March 4.
As Obama tried to nail down the Democratic nomination by
winning those two states and Clinton battled to say alive, a
familiar face joined the presidential race. Consumer advocate
Ralph Nader, blamed by many Democrats for their 2000 White
House loss, said he would run again as an independent.
Clinton, who trails Illinois Sen. Obama in delegates to
this summer's national convention that will pick the Democratic
candidate for the November election, needs wins in both states
to keep her campaign afloat.
Clinton mocked Obama's speeches in which he emphasizes hope
and promises change, telling supporters the problems facing the
next president would not be easily solved.
"I could just stand up here and say 'Let's just get
everybody together, let's get unified.' The sky will open, the
light will come down, celestial choirs will be singing and
everyone will know we should do the right thing and the world
will be perfect," she said at a rally in Providence, Rhode
Obama fired back in Lorain, Ohio, criticizing the New York
senator for changing her position on the North American Free
Trade Agreement pushed through by her husband, former President
"She has essentially presented herself as co-president
during the Clinton years," he said. "So the notion that you can
selectively pick what you take credit for and then run away
from what isn't politically convenient, that doesn't make
With the economy a key issue in the U.S. presidential race,
Obama has turned trade into a centerpiece of his campaign in
Ohio, where trade agreements are particularly unpopular as
domestic manufacturing jobs disappear.
The former first lady, who would be the first woman U.S.
president, resumed her attacks on Obama over some campaign
leaflets he circulated in Ohio criticizing her health care plan
and past support for NAFTA.
"Nobody believes Senator Obama's plan is universal because
it's not. Mine is," she said in Rhode Island, which also votes
on March 4. "So raise legitimate questions but don't engage in,
you know, this kind of false and misleading advertising."
Democrats dismissed the announcement of Nader's candidacy.
Nader, who turns 74 this week, ran as an independent in
2004. He was the Green Party nominee in 2000 when he won about
2.7 percent of the votes nationwide, but enough in Florida to
play a part in Democratic presidential nominee Al Gore's loss
of that state and the White House.
Nader called Washington "corporate occupied territory" that
turns the government against the interests of the people. "In
that context, I have decided to run for president," he said.
Clinton called Nader's decision "a passing fancy" and said
he had "prevented Al Gore from being the greatest president we
could have had and I think that's really unfortunate."
Virginia's Democratic Gov. Tim Kaine told "Fox News Sunday:
"I wouldn't see it having any effect on the race."
Obama, who has won 10 straight Democratic state contests,
hopes to knock off Clinton in either Ohio or Texas, where she
once held big leads. The two face off in their last scheduled
debate on Tuesday in Ohio.
In the Republican race, reaction to a New York Times
article last week continued to reverberate. The Times hinted at
the possibility that presidential front-runner John McCain was
having a romantic affair in 1999 with a female lobbyist 31
years his junior.
McCain, the Arizona senator who has all but clinched the
Republican nomination, has said the story was untrue.
Conservatives railed at the Times for trying to smear
McCain with a story based on unidentified sources. On Sunday,
they were joined by the Times' own public editor.
"If a newspaper is going to suggest an improper sexual
affair ... it owes readers more proof than The Times was able
to provide," wrote Clark Hoyt, who writes a weekly critique.
(Writing by David Wiessler and Joanne Allen; Additional
reporting by Jeff Mason and Donna Smith; Editing by Chris
Wilson and Jackie Frank)
(To read more about the U.S. political campaign, visit Reuters
"Tales from the Trail: 2008" online at