Strategists for the campaigns of Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton exchanged calculated barbs Sunday over accountability and ethics and who was engaging in personal attacks.
Obama communications director Robert Gibbs called on Clinton to release full post-White House tax returns; disclose all “earmarks,” or pet projects, the New York senator had inserted into spending bills; and release all documents on the Clinton Foundation and the Clinton Presidential Library, including a list of donors.
“What is lurking in those documents?” Gibbs asked.
“There are gaps that need to be filled,” said senior Obama strategist David Axelrod.
The two campaigns had dueling conference calls with reporters.
“This is a tried and true technique of the Obama campaign that has repeatedly shifted negative when they find the momentum working against them,” said senior Clinton strategist Mark Penn.
He suggested the Obama campaign was trying to “deflect public opinion from their losses in Ohio and Texas” and from Clinton’s strength in Pennsylvania.
Obama is heading to Pennsylvania today.
He also is expected to campaign this week in North Carolina and Oregon.
Clinton is scheduled to give a speech today in Washington on the Iraq war.
The Obama campaign’s move on Clinton came after a weekend in which the Illinois senator sought to ease public concerns about his ties to an indicted Chicago developer and to inflammatory statements made by his longtime pastor.
In interviews with Chicago newspapers, a television appearance and a Saturday speech in Indiana, Obama disavowed comments by the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, who was Obama’s pastor for nearly 20 years before recently retiring.
Obama also worked to distance himself from Antoin “Tony” Rezko, a former fundraiser for the candidate who is on trial in Chicago on corruption charges.
Obama’s team said Clinton was continuing to shield financial documents from public scrutiny at the same time she was calling for greater accountability.
Clinton has said she will release tax returns for the years after her husband’s presidency before the April 22 primary in Pennsylvania.
When asked whether the Obama campaign’s request for tax information was what the Clinton team considered a personal attack, Clinton spokesman Howard Wolfson said: “When you accuse somebody of being disingenuous and question their integrity and their honesty, as they are doing, that constitutes a personal attack.”