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Obama calls criticism by Clinton ‘politics’

WASHINGTON, Pa. – Democratic Sen. Barack Obama on Tuesday dismissed a voter’s suggestion that when Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton called him elitist it “bordered on uppity.”

“It’s politics,” the presidential candidate told a town-hall meeting on veterans affairs. “This is what we do politically, when we start getting behind in races. We start going on the attack.”

Obama holds the lead in votes, pledged delegates and states won with 10 contests remaining, including the Pennsylvania primary next Tuesday.

Seeking to undercut his advantage, Clinton has seized on Obama’s comments in which he told donors at a private San Francisco fundraiser that blue-collar voters “cling to guns or religion” because of bitterness about their economic lot. Clinton also began airing an ad in Pennsylvania that shows a handful of voters saying they were insulted by what he said.

Obama has said he chose the wrong words to characterize the economic insecurity many people face. His campaign released a new television ad Tuesday in Pennsylvania to counter Clinton’s, calling the former first lady’s criticism part of “the same old Washington politics.”

At the town-hall meeting, an audience member said he was angry at Clinton’s suggestion that Obama’s comments were elitist.

“As a white person, this term, the way it’s being used against you, it isn’t far from ‘uppity,’ ” the man said. “I think the Clintons are getting away with something that they must be called on. They will continue to do it until somebody states, ‘Mrs. Clinton, you are really close to prejudice here.’ “

Obama said he didn’t believe race played a role in Clinton’s strategy.