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Obama, Clinton Camps Fight Over Calls

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NEDRA PICKLER | January 6, 2008 10:32 PM EST | AP

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DERRY, N.H. — The presidential campaigns of Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama are arguing over phone calls made by the Obama camp in an under-the-radar dispute over who would best protect abortion rights.

Obama's campaign has been making automated phone calls to New Hampshire voters accusing Clinton of "last-minute smears." The Clinton campaign complained Sunday that some of those calls were going to people on a do-not-call registry for solicitation calls in violation of a New Hampshire law.

The recorded message came in response to a Clinton mailing that said Obama failed to stand up for the right to choose abortion. The mailing said that while serving in the state Senate in Illinois, Obama voted "present" seven times on abortion legislation instead of taking a yes or no position.

In the Obama campaign call, Wendy Frosh, chair of the board of Planned Parenthood in Northern New England, said Obama "has a 100 percent pro-choice record and has always been a champion for women's rights."

"Hillary Clinton's last-minute smears won't protect the right to choose, but as president Barack Obama will," she says in the message.

Frosh's involvement caused a separate controversy. Sunday evening, the president of Planned Parenthood New England, Nancy Mosher, sent an e-mail saying Frosh had been acting as an individual citizen and "has taken a temporary leave from the board."

The e-mail included a statement from Frosh noting that the organization has not endorsed a candidate and saying, "I regret any confusion that may have been caused by my actions."

Clinton's New Hampshire co-chair Kathy Sullivan said Sunday the campaign had received two complaints from people who received the robo-calls even though they were on the no-call registry.

New Hampshire Obama co-chair Ned Helms, said, "This call was in direct response to one of many 11th-hour false attacks Clinton has made at the end of the New Hampshire campaign. Our disclaimer absolutely complies with the federal law and our vendor has assured us that he scrubbed the list for people on the do-not-call registry."

"If this call went to someone who should not have received it, we will make sure the vendor takes every step to make sure this doesn't happen again," Helms said, in an e-mail from the Obama campaign.

Told the Obama campaign said it was following federal law, the Clinton campaign's Sullivan said, "I don't know what the federal law says, but we're in New Hampshire. Every candidate should follow the New Hampshire rules."

She said the Clinton campaign was following state law, scrubbing its list against the do-not-call registry and providing proper identification at the beginning of the call.

Organizations engaged in charitable, political or survey work are exempt from the federal do-not-call registry law.

The Clinton campaign released a statement from former New Hampshire state Rep. Sandy Keans, who said she received one of the calls. The campaign said the call didn't say it was sponsored by the Obama campaign until 38 seconds in though state law requires such identification within 30 seconds.

The Obama campaign said presidential candidates are covered by federal law, which has no time rule but merely states that the sponsor must be identified.