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Kennedy eyes the Clintons as he backs Obama

January 28, 2008 | 12:05 pm

Ted Kennedy could have confined himself to lavishly lauding Barack Obama today. He did plenty of that, to be sure, in his stemwinder of an endorsement speech in Washington. But he also did more -- taking on a couple of Hillary Clinton's talking points against Obama.

As part of his full-throated support for Obama, Kennedy praised Obama for opposing the war in Iraq before it started, at a time, the Massachusetts senator noted, when not many politicians were willing to do so. And then he added: "Let no one deny that truth."

Camp Clinton, while not disputing Obama's early stance against the war, has questioned his consistency on the issue. Most well-publicized was Bill Clinton's "fairy tale" characterization of Obama's depiction of himself as a sustained war opponent. Kennedy's "truth" remark has to be seen as a rebuttal to that.

Even more direct was ...

Kennedy's use of the phrase Hillary Clinton favors when arguing that her experience level makes her the best choice for the Democratic presidential nomination.

"I know," he said of Obama, "I know that he will be ready to be president from Day One."

Kennedy had a sly smile on his face as he delivered that line. We doubt Clinton and her aides were sharing his enjoyment.

-- Don Frederick