February 14, 2008 / 7:37 PM / 12 years ago

Democrat Clinton says Obama lacks substance

LORDSTOWN, Ohio (Reuters) - Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton accused rival Barack Obama of lacking substance and experience on Thursday as she fought for political traction after a string of losses.

Democratic presidential candidate Senator Hillary Clinton speaks at a rally in San Antonio, Texas February 13, 2008. Clinton accused rival Barack Obama of lacking substance and experience on Thursday as she fought for political traction after a string of losses. REUTERS/Jessica Rinaldi

Former Republican candidate Mitt Romney, working to unify his party behind one-time rival Sen. John McCain, decided to endorse the all-but-certain nominee McCain with a ceremony planned in Boston.

Brandishing a pair of blue boxing gloves given to her at a General Motors automobile plant, Clinton portrayed herself as a fighter and Obama as someone who makes a lot of speeches that sound good but do not offer solutions.

“That’s the difference between me and my opponent. My opponent makes speeches. I offer solutions. It is one thing to get people excited. I want to empower you,” the New York senator said.

It was a new line of attack for Clinton, the one-time front-runner for her party’s nomination who now finds herself in political peril and forced to scramble for sweeping victories in Ohio and Texas on March 4 and in Pennsylvania on April 22.

She focused on an area that some Democratic strategists say is a weak spot for Illinois Sen. Obama — his tendency to give uplifting, inspirational speeches that offer little in the way of specifics about how he would lead the United States if elected in November.

“Now, over the years, you’ve heard plenty of promises from plenty of people in plenty of speeches. And some of those speeches were probably pretty good. But speeches don’t put food on the table. Speeches don’t fill up your tank, or fill your prescription, or do anything about that stack of bills that keeps you up at night,” Clinton said.

The new rhetoric comes days after Clinton shook up the top level of her campaign staff and is attempting to re-energize her White House bid, as Obama rides a wave of momentum from a winning streak that reached eight states in a row on Tuesday.

A new poll showed that at this point, she is in a strong position in Ohio and Pennsylvania.

The Quinnipiac University poll said she leads Obama 55 percent to 34 percent among likely Democratic voters in Ohio, and 52 percent to 36 percent in Pennsylvania.

On the Republican side, Romney and McCain had tangled bitterly during the campaign as they fought for their party’s nomination. Romney had tried to raise doubts about McCain’s conservative credentials, and McCain still faces the dilemma of trying to get the party’s conservative base behind him.

After a string of losses Romney dropped out of the race last Thursday saying it would be best to try to unify the party to prepare for a tough general election battle against either of the two Democrats.

Campaigning in Vermont and Rhode Island, McCain accused Obama of backing an economic plan that would require tax increases to finance.

Obama had offered a detailed economic plan on Wednesday that he said would create 5 million new jobs in the green energy sector and establish a infrastructure bank to spend $60 billion over a decade to repair deteriorating roads, bridges and waterways.

Obama said he would pay for the plan by ending the Iraq war and increases taxes on corporations and wealthy Americans.

“It’s a very large expenditure of tax dollars, and we’ve heard this before about quote, ‘taxing the rich.’” said McCain.

Additional reporting by Andy Sullivan with McCain and Jason Szep in Boston

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