WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Democrat Barack Obama’s presidential campaign sought on Monday to assure his supporters he is a potent force and that national polls showing a big lead for Hillary Clinton are of little consequence at this stage.
Obama’s campaign manager, David Plouffe, said in a memo to supporters that Obama, an Illinois senator, is doing fine in early-voting states such as Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina.
A number of national polls in the last week or so have given Clinton, a New York senator, a large lead across the country. A Newsweek poll put her lead in the Democratic primary race at 23 points, up from 16 points in June.
“As the Washington insiders focus on irrelevant and wildly inconsistent national polls, there are strong signs in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina of the growing power and potential of this candidacy,” Plouffe wrote.
An ABC News/Washington Post poll last week showed Clinton, Obama and former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards in a virtual tie in Iowa.
A recent poll by the American Research Group in New Hampshire put Clinton and Obama at 31 percent apiece, and a poll by the same group in South Carolina gave Obama a 4 percent lead over Clinton in that state.
“Remember, each contest affects the next,” said Plouffe. “Our strategy has always been to focus like a laser on the early states to create the momentum crucial to later contests.”
Plouffe also pointed to Obama’s prowess at raising money from 258,000 individual donors as a sign of his strength. Obama raised about $5 million more than Clinton during the second quarter.
At the same time, the Clinton campaign sought to portray a sense of inevitability about her candidacy. Her chief strategist, Mark Penn, issued a memo saying Democrats are looking for someone who can take on the Republicans in the November 2008 election.
“They know she knows how to win and that is reflected in poll after poll that says Hillary is the candidate most likely to win in November,” he wrote.
Clinton and Obama have exchanged barbs in the last two weeks over foreign policy, particularly over Obama’s willingness to meet leaders of hostile nations and his ruling out the use of nuclear weapons against Islamic militants in Pakistan and Afghanistan.