Sen. Barack Obama's presidential campaign is launching a new line of attack on Sen. Hillary Clinton, accusing the Democratic presidential frontrunner of mimicking Obama's votes.
For the first time, Obama aides have publicly charged that Clinton waits for Obama to weigh in on controversial issues before taking the same stand, often to avoid creating disagreements that could be used as campaign ammunition.
"Democratic leaders are starting to count on Barack Obama for delivering two votes in the Senate - his and Senator Clinton's," Obama's spokesperson Ben Labolt told the Huffington Post on Thursday.
The comments echoed remarks on Wednesday by Obama's communications guru David Axelrod, who was asked on Hardball whether the senator would have voted for the contentious Kyl-Lieberman resolution -- which designates Iran's Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization -- had he not been on the campaign trail.
"Absolutely not," Axelrod declared. "He made that clear that day. And I venture to say that had he been there and voting on that perhaps Senator Clinton would not have voted that way either because, you know, Chris, lately every time he votes, she seems to vote after him, and seems to vote the same way. So maybe we could have spared her some of the difficulties."
The attack line reflects the increasingly aggressive campaign strategy that Obama has telegraphed, and plays into a larger critique that Clinton places caution over principle on the road to the White House. The Clinton campaign dismissed the accusation, though no officials would respond on the record.
In the past two months, as reported by ABC News, Obama did come out in his opposition to both Michael Mukasey's nomination for attorney general and Iraq War funding hours before Clinton. In May, moreover, Clinton was behind Obama in declaring her support for cloture on the high-profile Reid-Feingold amendment, which would have ended combat operations in Iraq within a year
It's not certain that Obama influenced Clinton's stance on any of these topics. And on the Lieberman-Kyl amendment as well as a resolution condemning MoveOn.org for their critical ad of Gen David Petraeus, Clinton cast a vote while Obama didn't.
"The fact is Barack Obama opposed giving the President the authority to go to Iraq and on Kyl-Lieberman he opposed giving the President a blank check on Iran," Labolt told the Huffington Post, when asked about these absences. "And on the day of the vote he issued a very clear statement again disagreeing with Sen. Clinton."