Obama's campaign in Ohio hit by claims of double-dealing

Hillary Clinton sought to skewer Barack Obama on the eve of critical voting in Ohio and Texas, pointing to a leaked memo purportedly showing that his campaign recently gave a "wink-wink" to the government of Canada that promises he has made to renegotiate trade deals need not be taken seriously.

With polls showing them in a dead heat in both states, Mrs Clinton has been ratcheting up her attacks on Mr Obama on issues ranging from free trade, health care, the economy and national security. Today may be do-or-die for the former first lady as she tries to end Mr Obama's 11-state winning streak.

Both campaigns have been scrapping furiously over Nafta, the free-trade pact between the US, Canada and Mexico, which for many Ohioans has become a hated symbol of job losses and economic decline. Both have vowed to revisit the treaty and any notion of insincerity by Mr Obama could hurt him.

Today's votes could turn out to be climactic. By most reckonings, Mrs Clinton needs to hold on to both Ohio and Texas to stay viable in the nomination race. As the double-digit leads she held in the states as recently as mid-February have melted away, she finds herself fighting for her political life.

For John McCain, today's voting across four states – Vermont and Rhode Island also go to the polls – should further reinforce his status as the presumptive Republican nominee and bring him within a hair's breadth of the 1,191 delegates that he needs to sew it up and send his last remaining rival, Mike Huckabee, packing.

The trade imbroglio centres on a Canadian embassy memo leaked to the Associated Press showing that a chief economic adviser to Mr Obama offered reassurances that anything he had said on the campaign trail "should be viewed as more about political positioning than a clear articulation of policy plans".

Even before making a campaign appearance at the University of Ohio in Toledo yesterday, Mrs Clinton gathered reporters in her hotel and urged them to give her fair treatment by investigating the memo. Substitute her name for Mr Obama's in the story, she said, and the media surely would not hesitate.

"If you come to Ohio and you go give speeches that are very critical of Nafta ... and then we find out that your chief economic adviser has gone to a foreign government and basically done the old wink-wink – 'Don't pay any attention, this is just political rhetoric' – I think that raises serious questions."

The adviser, Austan Goolsbee, has publicly denied making any such statements. However, the Clinton campaign continued to press its case, sending a stream of advisories on the issue to reporters throughout yesterday. It was also taken up by the Governor of Ohio, Ted Strickland, introducing Mrs Clinton to a crowd of about 500 supporters on the University of Ohio campus.

The memo revealed that "her opponent's not terribly serious about what he's saying in Ohio about Nafta but this is just political rhetoric", Mr Strickland said on the stage, alongside other Clinton backers, including the actor Ted Danson. "Well, we people in Ohio believe that you ought to say what you mean and mean what you say."

An aide travelling with Mrs Clinton rejected the notion that she had to win both Ohio and Texas to remain in the race. "There are no 'have-tos' tomorrow," insisted Doug Hattaway, a senior spokesman, adding that it remained a race between them for the biggest number of delegates to the party's convention.

A total of 2,025 delegates are needed for either of the Democratic runners definitively to claim victory. According to the AP count, Mr Obama currently has 1,385 delegates to Mrs Clinton's 1,276, putting her more than 100 adrift. Because of the arcane mathematics of apportioning delegates, in Texas particularly, she would have to win by wide margins today to close the gap significantly.

With Mr McCain now certain to be the nominee of his party, Democrats are growing anxious to settle their own nomination race. Without a clear set of victories tonight, Mrs Clinton may face calls therefore to withdraw in favour of Mr Obama.

"I think D-Day is Tuesday," said Governor Bill Richardson of New Mexico, who himself withdrew from the race in January. "We have to have a positive campaign after Tuesday. Whoever has the most delegates after Tuesday, a clear lead, should be the nominee."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Voices
There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm tomorrow
Arts and Entertainment
Mark Wright has won The Apprentice 2014
tvThe Apprentice 2014 final
Arts and Entertainment
X Factor winner Ben Haenow has scored his first Christmas number one
music
News
i100
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
news
News
Elton John and David Furnish will marry on 21 December 2014
peopleSinger posts pictures of nuptials throughout the day
Arts and Entertainment
James May, Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond in the Top Gear Patagonia Special
tv
News
File: James Woods attends the 52nd New York Film Festival at Walter Reade Theater on September 27, 2014
peopleActor was tweeting in wake of NYPD police shooting
News
Claudia Winkleman and co-host Tess Daly at the Strictly Come Dancing final
people
Extras
indybest
News
peopleLiam Williams posted photo of himself dressed as Wilfried Bony
Sport
Martin Skrtel heads in the dramatic equaliser
SPORTLiverpool vs Arsenal match report: Bandaged Martin Skrtel heads home in the 97th-minute
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Telesales & Customer Service Executives - Outbound & Inbound

£7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing? Do you want to work in...

Recruitment Genius: National Account Manager / Key Account Sales

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for a...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join...

Recruitment Genius: Recruitment Consultant

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We have an excellent role for a...

Day In a Page

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

Marian Keyes

The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

Rodgers fights for his reputation

Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick