Strategists say Obama has to get tough

Aug. 7, 2008 at 10:06 AM
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WASHINGTON, Aug. 7 (UPI) -- Some Democratic strategists say they're concerned that U.S. Sen. Barack Obama hasn't reacted strong enough to John McCain's increasingly harsh assaults.

The concern may be widespread, although most of the nearly dozen strategists interviewed by The Washington Post wanted to be quoted by name for the sake of party unity behind its presumptive presidential candidate.

"Democrats are worried," said Tad Devine, a strategist for Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., in his 2004 presidential run and who said he thinks Obama must stay on the high road. "We've been through two very tough elections at the national level and it's very easy to lose confidence."

Obama's latest ad may be his toughest so far, using words and images to link McCain, R-Ariz., to U.S. President George Bush and concluding: "The original maverick? Or just more of the same?"

For the past few weeks, McCain, the likely GOP nominee, has blistered Obama, D-Ill., attacking his character by claiming Obama of working out rather than visiting wounded troops during his recent trip abroad, while his aides accused Obama of playing the "race card," among other things.

"If somebody attacks you, you have to frame the attack: 'This is the same old politics, or better yet, the Bush-Rove politics,'" something Obama has done well, one Democratic strategist told the Post. "At the same time you do that, you have to counterattack. You don't want to look like a whiner. You want to look tough."

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