A few weeks ago, the Clinton campaign started going after Barack Obama on a series of “present” votes he cast while serving the state Senate. Clin
December 20, 2007

A few weeks ago, the Clinton campaign started going after Barack Obama on a series of “present” votes he cast while serving the state Senate. Clinton herself even emphasized the issue in speech in Iowa:

“Now, there’s been a lot of talk about yes or no answers to complex questions. But most people don’t know that for legislators who don’t want to take a stand, there’s a third way to vote. Not yes, not no, but ‘present’ – which is kind of like voting ‘maybe.’ Well, in the Illinois State Senate, on issue after issue, my opponent voted ‘present,’ instead of yes or no. [...] A president can’t vote ‘present.’ A president can’t pick and choose which challenges he or she will face.”

It seemed like a possible new line of attack, but the Clinton campaign seemed to drop it pretty quickly. Apparently, the issue is making a comeback.

The NYT had a lengthy report this morning, noting that Obama voted “present” about 3% of the time during his tenure, including on bills relating to crime and abortion rights. What’s more, while Hillary Clinton has dropped the charge from her stump speech, her campaign has clearly not dropped the issue altogether: “ABC News has learned that the [Clinton campaign] has registered the names of two Web sites with the express goal of attacking her chief rival, Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill.... Votingpresent.com and Votingpresent.org are domains hosted by the same IP address as official Clinton Web sites.... The Clinton campaign intends to use these new Web sites to paint Obama as cowardly.”

So, is there something to this? I looked into it a bit, but found there’s probably less here than meets the eye.

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