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Hillary Clinton, John McCain battle via 3 a.m. calls

April 2, 2008 |  5:09 pm

Coming soon: a quickie John McCain response ad to the spot Hillary Clinton's campaign unveiled earlier today that, using the 3 a.m. phone-call motif that served her well a month ago against Barack Obama, targeted the presumptive Republican presidential nominee.

The first ad in this back-and-forth -- which presumably helped Clinton win the Ohio and Texas primaries -- aimed to raise questions about Obama's readiness to serve as commander in chief. The new one -- the first by either Democrat to drop McCain's name -- takes him to task on the domestic front.

The pesky early morning ringing at the White House this time concerns an economic crisis, the Clinton spot posits. To wit:

"Home foreclosures mounting, markets teetering.

"John McCain just said the government shouldn’t take any real action on the housing crisis, he’d let the phone keep ringing.

"Hillary Clinton has a plan to protect our homes, create jobs.

"It’s 3 a.m., time for a president who’s ready."

The Times' Maeve Reston, traveling with McCain and his entourage, e-mailed from the campaign plane that, although the final script for the response ad still was being refined, its thrust would be:

“It’s 3 a.m. and your children are safe and asleep and this time the crisis is economic

"Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama just said they’d solve the problem by raising your taxes. More money out of your pocket

"John McCain has a better plan … grow jobs, grow the economy

"It’s 3 a.m., time for a president who’s ready."

Clearly, whoever ultimately claims the presidency better rest up before Inauguration Day.

Initially, the McCain campaign ...

had shrugged off the Clinton ad with the quip of the day from the political trenches.

Key McCain strategist Steve Schmidt had said, "It’s more likely the call at 3 a.m. is, ‘Senator, you just lost another superdelegate.’”

Indeed, within the last 24 hours or so, three of these party honchos chose Obama over Clinton (see here, here and here).

-- Don Frederick

UPDATE: Here's the McCain camp's final product:

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