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Clinton, Obama take war of words to airwaves

DILLON, South Carolina (Reuters) - Democratic presidential contenders Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton took their escalating war of words to the airwaves on Wednesday, launching radio ads in South Carolina directly attacking each other.

Democratic presidential candidate US Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY) is joined by US Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) as she arrives at a "Solutions for America" Rally in Hackensack, New Jersey January 23, 2008. REUTERS/Jeff Zelevansky

Three days ahead of South Carolina’s Democratic presidential primary, Clinton aired a radio ad here ridiculing Obama’s recent comments about Republican ideas.

“Aren’t those the ideas that got us into the economic mess we’re in today?” the ad’s narrator asks.

Obama, an Illinois senator who would be the first black U.S. president, responded later in the day with his own radio ad bluntly confronting Clinton.

“Hillary Clinton will say anything to get elected,” the narrator of Obama’s ad says. “She’ll say anything and change nothing.”

The radio battle is the latest chapter in a running duel between the two top contenders for the Democratic nomination for November’s election to succeed President George W. Bush.

The duel was on full display during a Monday night debate in South Carolina, when the two traded harsh and sometimes personal accusations about their records and recent campaign statements.

South Carolina, where more than half of the likely Democratic primary voters on Saturday are expected to be black, holds the next contest in the nomination fight.

RADIO ROW

Obama is counting on a good result in the state after losing to Clinton in New Hampshire and Nevada, and a Reuters/C-SPAN/Zogby poll showed him holding a double-digit lead over her here.

Clinton, a New York senator who would be the first woman U.S. president, and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, have attacked Obama repeatedly for comments to a Nevada newspaper last week saying Republicans generated more new ideas in recent years.

“The Republicans were the party of ideas for a pretty long chunk of time there over the last 10, 15 years,” Obama said, in words replayed in Clinton’s ad.

Obama has said he did not mean he liked the ideas, but the Clintons have implied he endorsed them.

“Hillary Clinton thinks this election is about replacing disastrous Republican ideas with new ones, like jumpstarting the economy,” the narrator says in Clinton’s ad.

Obama’s response, released later in the day, says Clinton’s accusations are “what’s wrong with politics today.”

“Now she’s making false attacks on Barack Obama,” the ad’s narrator says.

“It was Hillary Clinton, in an interview with Tom Brokaw, who quote ‘paid tribute’ to Ronald Reagan’s economic and foreign policy,” the narrator says.

“She championed NAFTA (the North American Free Trade Agreement), even though it has cost South Carolina thousands of jobs. And worst of all, it was Hillary Clinton who voted for George Bush’s war in Iraq.”

(Editing by Stuart Grudgings)

For more about the U.S. political campaign, visit Reuters "Tales from the Trail: 2008" online at blogs.reuters.com/trail08/

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