MANCHESTER, N.H. — Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton criticizes rival Barack Obama's record on abortion rights in a mailing sent to New Hampshire voters _ her first direct attack on the Illinois senator since his victory in Iowa.
The mailer says that seven times during his time in the Illinois state Senate, Obama declined to take a position on abortion bills, while Clinton has been a defender of abortion rights.
During his eight years in the legislature, Obama cast a number of votes on abortion and received a 100 percent rating from the Illinois Planned Parenthood Council for his support of abortion rights, family planning services and health insurance coverage for female contraceptives. He voted against requiring medical care for aborted fetuses who survive, a vote that especially riled abortion opponents.
He also joined other state Democrats in voting present on some bills.
The mailing comes amid division within the Clinton campaign over how negative to go against Obama after his victory Thursday in the Iowa caucuses. The campaign has made a decision to hold off on any television advertising, positive or negative, until after a nationally televised debate Saturday night.
Obama also has been criticized by the political arm of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, which has endorsed Clinton. Seven international vice presidents sent a letter protesting the "wholesale assault on one of the great friends of our union."
"Supposedly, we are involved in this primary because we're concerned about access to the next Democratic president," the signers argued. "So why would we want to develop a hostile relationship with the man who could be that next president?"
During the Iowa campaign, the Clinton campaign criticized Obama's position on health care in Iowa. But she is taking a different approach in New Hampshire.
"A woman's right to choose," the mailing says on the front, then flips to the back, "demands a leader who will stand up and protect it."
It says Clinton has a record of fighting "far-right Republicans" to defend abortion rights, while Obama has been "unwilling to take a stand on choice."
"Seven times he had the opportunity to stand up against Republican anti-choice legislation in the Illinois state Senate," it says. "Seven times he voted present _ not yes or no, but present. Being there is not enough to protect choice.
"On January 8 you have a choice," it closes. "Vote for Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary, Tuesday, Jan. 8."
The mailer says "Paid for by Hillary Clinton for President" and has a return address of her office in Manchester. Clinton spokesman Phil Singer said the campaign decided to send the piece because "as Senator Obama has said, `voting records matter.' This is a critical issue for New Hampshire voters and they deserve a straightforward presentation of the facts about both candidates."
Obama spokesman Bill Burton responded, "The Clinton campaign's false negative attacks were rejected by Iowa voters, and we expect that they'll suffer the same fate here in New Hampshire."
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