POLITICS
03/28/2008 02:46 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Daschle Suggests Clinton Aide Should Resign For Starr Comparison

Former Sen. Tom Daschle on Friday suggested that top Clinton advisor Howard Wolfson should resign for comparing Barack Obama's tactics to those of Ken Starr.

"It's comments like [Wolfson's] that make me question whether we do have the same standards," said the former Senate Majority Leader. "I don't think that you can make a statement like that and consider yourself within the bounds of civility. I mean, this shouldn't be tolerated. It's not acceptable, and it's unfortunate."

Daschle, an Obama supporter and mentor, said he believed it was correct for campaign advisor Samantha Power to step down after calling Hillary Clinton a "monster." He called Power's comment regretful and said "the campaign had little choice but to do what was done."

And while Daschle would not directly call for a similar fate for Wolfson, he suggested that would be an appropriate move.

"Well, only one person can make that decision [for Wolfson's resignation] and that's Hillary Clinton," he said. "I'm just prepared to say today that the standard by which we judge civility and the degree of acceptable behavior appears to be different in the two camps. In our case, when somebody says the wrong thing, they're gone. It appears that in their case, normal life goes on."

In the past, Clinton surrogates have been dismissed from the campaign for bringing up Obama's youthful drug use. On occasion, however, it has taken several days for the campaign to acknowledge wrongdoing. In a conference call with reporters earlier on Friday, Wolfson denied that his situation and Power's were in any way comparable.

"I did not say that Senator Obama was like Ken Starr," he said, "and I think there is a difference between engaging in the kind of ad homimen personal attack on someone's character that Samantha Power did, and talking about the kind of campaign that team Obama has been running since Ohio and Texas."

In an interview preceding his appearance on Meet the Press this Sunday, Daschle also offered his version of a political anecdote involving Sen. John McCain's consideration of leaving the Republican Party several years ago. In 2001, Daschle recounted, he and other Democrats listened to overtures from McCain and his staff about a potential party switch. McCain, who was coming off a vitriolic primary fight against George W. Bush and felt disillusioned with the GOP, ultimate stayed with his party.

"I think in part it was [McCain's] frustration, his beginning to think that maybe he would be more comfortable as an independent, and so some of his staff approached us with an express interest in talking about whether or not that might be a possibility," recalled Daschle. "It was never a question of becoming a Democrat, but really of becoming an independent and caucusing with us. So we talked about how that might happen, and we talked about the fact that he is pretty conservative on some issues, and would that fit, and we talked about committee and staff assignments and work. And ultimately, when [then-Sen. Jim] Jeffords made the decision to switch to our caucus, that pretty much stopped the discussions from going forward anymore. But we had a good conversation, a series of conversations about it, and it just didn't develop into anything more than that."

In a twist of political fate, the man Daschle once courted could now end up being the presidential candidate he hopes to defeat. But the Democratic primary battle must be resolved first. And the current dynamics of the race have gotten increasingly heated. Asked about Clinton's criticism that Obama had not passed the commander-in-chief threshold, Daschle fought back.

"Well," he said, "Barack Obama has more public office experience than Hillary does, that is elected public office experience. And it's not just a question of experience, it's a question of judgment, and every single time Barack has been called upon to show good judgment, it's not only his experience but his character and his courage that has caused him to make decisions that others only wish they'd made years later, including Hillary Clinton."