Not for the first time, Hillary Clinton is reported to be incandescent with her husband for inadvertently reminding Americans how hard it can be to get the straight, unvarnished truth from the Clintons.
While out campaigning for his wife in Iowa last week, Bill Clinton declared that he had opposed the Iraq war "from the beginning", a statement that left his audience slack-jawed with incredulity and sent researchers scurrying to find evidence of his anti-war stance. They came back empty-handed.
Less than a month before Democrats vote in the Iowa primaries, Mr Clinton's faux pas has brought the spotlight back to the most toxic issue in his wife's campaign her vote to support the Iraq war. The convenient lie about his position on the war has also revived unhappy memories of the Clinton White House's reputation for slipperiness. Barack Obama, then a little-known senator from Illinois, was one of the very few Americans heard speaking out against the war from the outset. Another was Al Gore. Mr Clinton's attempt to airbrush history prompted a tirade from the influential New York Times columnist Frank Rich. "What if Mrs Clinton had led an insurrection against the war authorisation in the Senate?" he asked. "Might she have helped impede America's rush into one of the greatest fiascos in our history?"
Commentators have suggested there is growing panic inside Mrs Clinton's campaign that she could be beaten by Mr Obama when Iowa votes on 3 January. "I'm hearing that Hillary is ready to kill Bill," wrote the influential political blogger Arianna Huffington. "But it has nothing to do with his roving eye."
A defeat in Iowa could be fatal to her bid for the Democratic nomination. Some of her advisers believe that if she loses the Iowa caucuses it will puncture the aura of inevitability that has surrounded her race to the White House.
The latest polls show her losing ground to Mr Obama in Iowa, who was the choice of 28 per cent of Democrats, up from 22 per cent in October. Despite flooding the state with an extra 100 campaign staff in the past month, Mrs Clinton was at 25 per cent, down from 29 per cent. John Edwards stood at 23 per cent, which given the margin of error makes the race a three-way dead heat. Mrs Clinton's reaction to the polls has been to lash out at Mr Obama, directly challenging his integrity. That approach may be foolhardy in Iowa, where negative campaigning is often frowned on.
Mrs Clinton's hard-knuckle tactics were on display as she described the coming battle with Mr Obama as "fun". She said: "I have been, for months, on the receiving end of rather consistent attacks. Well, now the fun part starts. We're into the last month, and we're going to start drawing the contrasts."
Mr Obama immediately replied that: "This presidential campaign isn't about attacking people for fun, it's about solving people's problems."Reuse content