Thursday, December 13, 2007

Shaheen Resigns As Clinton Co-Chairman

The Hill reports:

New Hampshire power player Billy Shaheen stepped down as national co-chairman of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s (D-N.Y.) campaign just a day after bringing up Sen. Barack Obama’s (D-Ill.) drug use in an interview with a reporter.

Shaheen, whose wife, former New Hampshire Gov. Jeanne Shaheen (D) is running against Sen. John Sununu (R), told The Washington Post Wednesday that Democrats should consider how Republicans might use Obama’s admission of past drug use against him in a general election.

“It'll be, ‘When was the last time? Did you ever give drugs to anyone? Did you sell them to anyone?’” Shaheen said in the interview.

In the firestorm that followed, Shaheen said the comments were not authorized by the campaign, and Clinton said she personally apologized to Obama, promising not to engage in personal attacks for the remainder of the campaign.

Obama’s campaign immediately seized on Shaheen’s comments Wednesday and turned them into a fundraising plea.

“This race took a sharply negative turn yesterday,” Obama campaign manager David Plouffe said in an e-mail to supporters. “With recent polls giving Barack the lead in Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina, and just three weeks left before the Iowa caucuses, the attacks on Barack’s character that Hillary Clinton has called ‘the fun part’ of this campaign have reached a new low.”

In his statement as released by the Clinton campaign, Shaheen said he wanted “to reiterate that I deeply regret my comments yesterday and say again that they were in no way authorized by Sen. Clinton or the Clinton campaign.”

“Sen. Clinton has been running a positive campaign focused on the issues that matter to America’s families,” Shaheen said in his statement. “She is the best qualified to be the next president of the United States because she can lead starting on day one. I made a mistake and in light of what happened, I have made the personal decision that I will step down as the co-chair of the Hillary for President campaign. This election is too important and we must all get back to electing the best-qualified candidate who has the record of making change happen in this country. That candidate is Hillary Clinton.”