JOHNSTOWN, Pa. – Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama swapped some of the most negative attacks of the campaign two days before the Pennsylvania primary, each unleashing television ads Sunday that accused the other of maintaining ties to special interests they both claim to reject.
Obama also paid the Republican presidential nominee-in-waiting a backhanded compliment. “Either Democrat would be better than John McCain,” he told an audience in Reading. “And all three of us would be better than George Bush.”
That drew a feisty rebuke from Clinton, who said, “We need a nominee who will take on John McCain, not cheer on John McCain.”
With the Republican nomination long secure, McCain reported his best fundraising month of the campaign, listing receipts of $15 million in March. It was less than Obama or Clinton, but his best monthly total of the campaign, and it underscored his ability to tap donors who supported his rivals in the heat of the primaries.
Two days before the Pennsylvania primary with 158 delegates at stake, Obama and Clinton observed the rituals of Sunday campaigning: a visit to church, stops at restaurants catering to families and as many public events as possible.
And blanketing the state with attack ads.
“In the last 10 years Barack Obama has taken almost $2 million from lobbyists, corporations and PACs. The head of his New Hampshire campaign is a drug company lobbyist, in Indiana an energy lobbyist, a casino lobbyist in Nevada,” said a new Clinton commercial airing in the campaign’s final days.
If anything, Obama upped the ante with his rebuttal. His ad said he “doesn’t take money from special interest PACs or Washington lobbyists – not one dime.” Clinton does, it added, and accused her of “eleventh-hour smears paid for by lobbyist money.”
Preprimary polls show Clinton with a lead in the state she must win to sustain her candidacy.
Overall, Obama has 1,646 delegates to 1,508 for Clinton in the Associated Press’ count, with 2,025 needed to clinch the nomination.