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Clinton campaign: iceberg dead ahead

(UPDATE, 12/14: Shaheen resigned over his comments. Guess that pink slip wasn’t just waved at him.)

Watching the Hillary Clinton campaign meltdown is like watching a train wreck. Barack Obama has either passed her in some polls or is within the margin of error in others. Support among women and blacks is frittering away for her, despite dragging Bill out on the road to inject some personality into the rallies.

Camp Clinton has also suffered from incredibly bad judgment, particularly when trying to go negative under the radar, as two Iowa supporters, Jones County coordinator Judy Rose andLinda Olson, a volunteer coordinator in Iowa County, were caught e-blasting the rumor that Obama, a member of the United Church of Christ, is a Muslim “Manchurian Candidate” intent on taking down the U.S. It included this language:

“Let us all remain alert concerning Obama’s expected presidential Candidacy. Please forward to everyone you know. The Muslims have said they Plan on destroying the US from the inside out, what better way to start than at The highest level.

One can only imagine that Clinton’s highly paid coterie of professional “political geniuses” is now pointing fingers at one another for the slide. It’s particularly amusing given the latest debacle, the not-very-low whispering campaign that Obama’s admitted past drug use will be used against him and thus he’s unelectable.

Bill Shaheen, a national co-chairman of Clinton’s front-runner campaign, raised the issue during an interview with The Washington Post, posted on Clinton’s campaign did not have an immediate comment. Shaheen, an attorney and veteran organizer, said much of Obama’s background is unknown and could be a problem in November 2008 if he is the Democratic nominee. He said the Republicans would work hard to discover new aspects of Obama’s admittedly spotty youth.

”It’ll be, ‘When was the last time? Did you ever give drugs to anyone? Did you sell them to anyone?”’ said Shaheen, whose wife Jeanne is the state’s former governor and is running for the U.S. Senate next year. ”There are so many openings for Republican dirty tricks. It’s hard to overcome,” Shaheen said.

Well, that backfired, and the backpedaling came out of the Clinton camp today. Click for the rest.

A top aide to Hillary Clinton said he “regrets” raising Sen. Barack Obama’s past drug use, and he insists the Clinton campaign had nothing to do with the apparent smear. “I deeply regret the comments I made today, and they were not authorized by the campaign in any way,” Bill Shaheen said in a statement released by the Clinton campaign.

Talk about not ready for prime time; Shaheen sounds like he had a pink slip waved at him. Good grief — if you’re going to accuse Barack Obama as politically unseasoned, don’t use boneheaded tactics like this. Obama’s camp took advantage of the bush league bloviating.

“Hillary Clinton said attacking other Democrats is the fun part of this campaign, and now she’s moved from Barack Obama’s kindergarten years to his teenage years in an increasingly desperate effort to slow her slide in the polls. Senator Clinton’s campaign is recycling old news that Barack Obama has been candid about in a book he wrote years ago, and he’s talked about the lessons he’s learned from these mistakes with young people all across the country.”

I  wonder how much money is going to this bumbling class of consultant know-it-alls advising her in her campaign who are responsible for the slide. Check out Salon’s War Room, which poses the question: Why is Clinton struggling? Insert answer here.

There’s a Dem debate this afternoon on Iowa Public TV today at 2PM. It will be interesting to see if these political tactics are given air time so Hillary Clinton is forced to speak about them on camera.  

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding