Prominent Democrats campaign for Clinton, Obama in Nevada |

Prominent Democrats campaign for Clinton, Obama in Nevada

Associated Press Writer
Former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle talks Thursday, Sept. 27, 2007, at a private home in Carson City, Nev. Daschle visited several locations in Northern Nevada while stumping for presidential candidate Barack Obama. (AP Photo/Nevada Appeal, Cathleen Allison)

Two high-profile backers of presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama campaigned in Nevada on Thursday, avoiding attacks on each other’s candidate and instead criticizing the Bush administration.

Former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, supporting Obama, said in an interview that Democratic candidates for president as well as for Congress have an edge in the 2008 elections because “the American people believe even more that we’re on the wrong track and we need a change.”

Clinton backer Joe Wilson, a former ambassador and husband of outed CIA operative Valerie Plame, said in a telephone interview that Republicans can’t hold onto the presidency because “the country can’t afford it. They have so utterly discredited themselves and done such lasting damage.”

Daschle, a South Dakotan who lost his Senate seat in 2004, said President Bush had high polling numbers then but now is polling in the 20s and 30s. He also said independent voters tend to lean toward Democrats this year ” and especially toward Obama.

Obama is “a fresh face” who lacks the “baggage” that candidates with long political careers have, Daschle said, adding that he was speaking generally and not singling out Clinton for criticism.

Daschle also said that Nevada and other Western states are “becoming more comfortable for Democrats.” He added that Nevada isn’t a red state but instead has become “a swing state, a purple state” with its new status as an early caucus location.

Wilson said the Democratic candidates, especially Clinton, should draw Republican voters fed up with the failures of the Bush administration and the transformation of the national GOP into “nothing more than a huge propaganda organ.”

Clinton is ready for the Republican “slime machine,” Wilson said, adding, “Hillary has made it clear that if they come after her she will strike right back. … She knows it’s coming and she’s nothing if not a fighter.”

Wilson also said he and his wife, while they were being targeted by Republicans, had steadfast support from Clinton. Plame has said her secret role as a CIA operative was made public as the White House sought to discredit Wilson, a critic of Bush’s Iraq policy.

Vice President Dick Cheney’s former chief of staff, I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, was convicted in the CIA leak case but his 30-month jail sentence was commuted by Bush. A $250,000 fine remained in place.