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ON THE TRAIL

Twisted Words?

January 25, 2008

One of the recent clashes between Democratic presidential contenders Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama has been over remarks Obama made this month, to the Reno Gazette-Journal editorial board, about President Reagan and Republicans' ideas. Did Clinton distort Obama's words? You be the judge.

Obama: "I think Ronald Reagan changed the trajectory of America in a way that Richard Nixon did not and in a way that Bill Clinton did not. He put us on a fundamentally different path because the country was ready for it. I think they felt like with all the excesses of the '60s and the '70s, and government had grown and grown, but there wasn't much sense of accountability in terms of how it was operating. I think he tapped into what people were already feeling. Which is, 'We want clarity, we want optimism, we want a return to that sense of dynamism and entrepreneurship that had been missing.'

". . . I think we're in one of those times right now, where people feel like things as they are going aren't working. That we're bogged down in the same arguments that we've been having, and they're not useful. And the Republican approach, I think, has played itself out.

"I think it's fair to say that the Republicans were the party of ideas for a pretty long chunk of time there over the last 10 to 15 years in the sense that they were challenging conventional wisdom."

Clinton: "The facts are that he has said in the last week that he really liked the ideas of the Republicans over the last 10 to 15 years. . . .

"Now, I personally think they had ideas, but they were bad ideas. They were bad ideas for America. They were ideas like privatizing Social Security, like moving back from a balanced budget and a surplus to deficit and debt."

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