CRAWFORD, Texas — The White House on Tuesday assailed Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton for criticizing President Bush in her latest television ad, calling her statements "outrageous." The 60-second spot, which began running Tuesday in Iowa, intercuts scenes of the candidate interacting with voters and talking about challenges facing many working people.
"If you're a family that is struggling and you don't have health care, you are invisible to this president," the New York senator says in the ad. "If you're a single mom trying to find affordable child care so you can go to work, you're invisible too.
The ad also argued that U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan are "invisible" to Bush.
White House deputy press secretary Dana Perino initially declined to comment on the ad, but then lambasted the spot and the senator.
"As to the merits of it, I think it's outrageous. This is a president who, first and foremost, has helped millions of seniors across the country have access to prescription drugs at a much lower cost," Perino said. "As to whether or not our troops are invisible to this president, I think that is absurd and that it is unconscionable that a member of Congress would say such a thing."
Happy to be in a debate with the White House, the Clinton campaign quickly linked to the official transcript of Perino's comments on its campaign Web site, , with the headline, "White House Attacks Hillary's New Ad." http://www.hillaryhub.com
Campaigning in Dubuque, Iowa, Clinton referred to the White House criticism of her "invisible" comments.
"Apparently I've struck a nerve. The White House just attacked me a few minutes ago," Clinton said. "Not only have I said it and am saying it, I will keep saying it because I happen to believe it."
Calling herself an optimistic and modern progressive who would help the nation overcome economic disparities, Clinton said the U.S. can "grow" its economy amid global competition "and do it in a way that benefits all Americans."
Clinton said the Bush administration "is working for Americans with incomes at the very top."
"Americans work harder than anyone else in the world, yet we're not getting rewarded," she said. "We're seeing a growing gap between the haves and have-nots that threatens the backbone of our country, the middle class that built our country."
Associated Press writer Mike Glover in Dubuque, Iowa, contributed to this report.