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Obama's camp debates Clinton over "hope"

January 6, 2008 |  2:15 pm

Manchester, N.H. -- As Barack Obama began his Sunday campaigning at a packed rally inside the Palace Theater here, he made only a glancing mention of Saturday's night candidate debate -- but it was obvious who he had in mind.

"For many months I've been teased, almost derided, for talking about hope," he told his crowd of about 1,000. "We saw it in the debate last night. One of my opponents said, 'We can't just offer the American people false hopes of what we can get done.' "

Obama added, for emphasis: "False hopes!"

The opponent he referred to, of course, was Hillary Clinton, who at various points during the debate aggressively asserted that talking about change and making change are two very different things. In the debate -- and in her campaigning in New Hampshire -- she is seeking to persuade voters that she has a record of making a difference while Obama is about making pretty speeches.

Obama may have contented himself with veiled scoffing at Clinton this morning, but The Times' Maria La Ganga reports that his campaign aides were more direct. After the Manchester rally, communications director Robert Gibbs called Clinton's debate remarks "a bit breaktaking."

"It's a surprising comment from someone who wants to lead and inspire the country," he said. "If that's the counter to a hopeful, optimistic message, I wish them luck."

-- Don Frederick