Dems back on campaign trail after debate

January 22, 2008 3:46:21 PM PST
The candidates are licking their wounds following Monday night's debate between the Democratic presidential contenders. Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama got into a verbal slugfest that turned personal at times.

Nothing illustrates the pressure and fatigue of a high stakes, neck-and-neck presidential campaign better than Monday night's shockingly personal cannon shots that Clinton and Obama fired back and forth early in a South Carolina debate that put Chicago and indicted businessman Tony Rezko in the national spotlight for the first time.

Barack Obama campaigned Tuesday in Greenwood, South Carolina ,where a local woman inspired him on a rainy day months ago by chanting "Fired up and ready to go," which is now a regular part of his stump speech and a good description of Monday night's heated debate clashes with Hillary Clinton.

The Democratic frontrunners clashed repeatedly over their records, including an exchange that put Chicago in the spotlight for the first time.

"I was working on those streets, watching those folks see their jobs shipped overseas, you were a corporate lawyer sitting on the board of Wal-Mart," said Barack Obama, (D) presidential candidate.

"I was fighting against those ideas when you were practicing law and representing your contributor Rezko in his slum landlord business in inner-city Chicago," said Hillary Clinton, (D) presidential candidate.

This is Clinton's first reference to an Obama sore spot, indicted businessman and political operative Tony Rezko, who sold Obama a piece of land at a bargain price between their adjacent houses in Hyde Park. Rezko had previously contributed thousands of dollars to Obama's political campaigns, and Obama did legal work on Rezko's land deals, which prompted a mea culpa from Obama in 2006.

"I think it's entirely appropriate for folks to expect more. All I can say is, every once in a while, you stub your toe," Obama said in 2006.

Hillary and her allies defended Monday night's hardball politics as necessary and overdue.

"I do think that he's gotten some kind of a pass for a long time from the media," Clinton said.

"We are two people vying for the most important job in the world. And it's important that we air whatever differences we have," said Alderman Danny Solis, Clinton supporter.

The Clinton political machine, including Hillary, Bill and all of their surrogates, have the biggest guns in their political arsenal aimed at Barack Obama, who is finding it harder and harder to duck. And his campaign is apparently uncomfortable enough with the Rezko issue to stand on the sidelines Tuesday after repeated questions for a spokesman or a statement.