Obama turns negative in bid to close gap

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The Independent US

With his campaign for the Democratic party's presidential nomination languishing in the polls, Barack Obama, the great young hope of party members weary with old-style politics, is falling back on a distinctly old-style tactic: negative campaigning.

The Illinois senator promised to step up his attacks on the front-runner, Hillary Clinton, whose steamrollering campaign has opened up a lead of around 30 points over the rest of the field. He accused the former first lady of dodging policy questions and trying to sound like a Republican. And, evoking defeats that still make party members wince, he said that if she were to become the Democrat candidate next year, "then we have a repeat of 2000 and 2004".

Senator Obama's new tough approach comes in response to the concerns of aides who worry he has failed to achieve the breakthrough that he once promised, and fear that his support could haemorrhage in the last months before the primary season as fair-weather friends try to make sure they are backing the winning side.

A prominent member of the Obama fundraising team switched to the Clinton camp last week, and the latest financial filings show that Senator Clinton is opening up a lead in campaign donations.

The latest poll of polls suggests Senator Clinton is a shoo-in to win the nomination, with the support of 48 per cent of committed or likely Democrat voters, while Senator Obama trails in second with 22 per cent.

The Clinton campaign predicted that voters would be turned off by the negative campaigning, "especially from a candidate who told us he would do better".