Obama adviser quits after describing Clinton as a 'monster'

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The Independent US

Until yesterday, the young Harvard professor Samantha Power was someone destined to play a leading role in Barack Obama's new foreign policy team.

Not quite experienced enough to be Secretary of State or National Security Adviser, she was marked for prominence should Mr Obama ever make it to the White House.

Yesterday, those dreams were in tatters after she described Hillary Clinton as a power-hungry "monster" and was instantly forced to resign. "She is a monster, too – that is off the record – she is stooping to anything," Ms Power said in an interview which took place in London on Monday but was only published in The Scotsman yesterday.

"You just look at her and think, "Ergh," Ms Powers continued. "But if you are poor and she is telling you some story about how Obama is going to take your job away, maybe it will be more effective. The amount of deceit she has put forward is really unattractive."

There was an instant and predictable furore in the US, putting the Obama campaign back on the defensive, making it look amateurish and accident-prone at the worst possible moment.

The sky appeared to be the limit for the 37-year-old, Irish-born academic who was head-hunted by Mr Obama to be a senior foreign policy adviser when he read her Pulitzer-prize winning book, America and the Age of Genocide. She has helped guide his foreign policy which advocates tough responses to humanitarian crises such as Darfur as well as military strikes on known terrorist groups, but also an engagement with the world that has been largely absent from the Bush administration's foreign policy.

In retrospect Ms Power's inexperience as a foreign policy practitioner made her an accident waiting to happen. With an earthy turn of phrase that betrayed her Dublin roots, the37-year old's remark in the interview that the Obama campaign "fucked up in Ohio" where Mrs Clinton won by 10 percentage points on Tuesday, jarred with American sensibilities.

After his defeat to Mrs Clinton in Iowa and Texas this week, Mr Obama has been trying to figure out how to land a punch on his opponent without abandoning his pledge to be above negative mud-slinging politics. Ms Power's disparaging remarks about his opponent were completely off message and played straight into the Clinton camp's hands.

As ferocious as the attacks from the Clinton camp on Mr Obama have been, no one in her entourage has ever attacked him in such a personal and disparaging way.

As the story grew and threatened to dominate the news cycle on the eve of today's Wyoming primary, Ms Power was forced out.

She made her remarks during an interview to promote her latest book about the UN official Sergio Vieira de Mello who was murdered in Iraq. Although she tried to withdraw her "monster" quote, it was published on the grounds that it was uttered during an "on the record" interview.

Within hours of the interview being published, and then publicised by The Drudge Report, the Obama campaign was denouncing her remarks.

A contrite Ms Power said: "It is wrong for anyone to pursue this campaign in such negative and personal terms. I apologise to Senator Clinton and to Senator Obama, who has made very clear that these kinds of expressions should have no place in American politics."