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Last: Vegas Democratic Debate Preview

8:01 PM, Jan 15, 2008 • By JONATHAN V. LAST
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Las Vegas
The Clinton campaign has been circulating emails on two lines of attack against Obama that will probably be on display at tonight's debate.

The first is that Obama voted "present" 129 times while serving in the Illinois state Senate. The Clinton camp use these votes to pain Obama as either soft on abortion or intentionally reticent to preserve his political maneuverability. Or both.

The other line of attack the Clinton campaign is pushing is that Obama is soft on withdrawal from Iraq. Here's the Clinton campaign's summary:

In 2004, Sen. Obama said he was willing to support more troops in Iraq, said withdrawal from Iraq would be 'a slap in the face' to the troops fighting there. ...

In 2005, Sen. Obama said that 'U.S. forces are still a part of the solution.' ...

In 2006, Sen. Obama opposed Sen. Kerry's amendment to withdraw troops, saying he opposed 'a precipitous withdrawal of troops.'

What's particularly interesting in all of this is that Clinton seems to be criticizing Obama for at one point holding the type of prudential stance on withdrawal that she herself used to take on the campaign trail. Remember that until just before the Iowa caucuses, Clinton's standard formulation was that we need to "bring our troops home from Iraq as quickly and responsibly as possible," that final modifier giving her all sorts of room to make prudential assessments on the matter.

But since Iowa, Clinton has abandoned that line in favor of simply saying that we have to end the war in Iraq, with no room left to even contemplate victory.

It all adds up to a total reversal of what we thought would happen in the race: Clinton is trying to come at Obama from the left. Expect to see more of it tonight at the debate.