Clinton slips against Republicans, Obama attacks by Stephen Collinson
Tue Nov 27, 11:56 AM ET
WASHINGTON (AFP) - A new poll Monday showed Hillary Clinton losing a general election to all potential Republican White House foes, in a new sign that fierce political attacks may be harming her 2008 campaign.
But the Democratic front-runner insisted she would win the party presidential nod, and warned she would take on her newly aggressive opponents head-on, just 38 days before Iowa's leadoff caucus nominating contests.
The Zogby International hypothetical 2008 matchup, reversing months of Clinton dominance over the Republican field, came as her camp battled in an ugly new spat with her top Democratic rival Barack Obama.
The Illinois senator meanwhile said chat show queen Oprah Winfrey would sprinkle showbiz stardust on his campaign in a three-state swing in December.
He also issued a sarcastic appraisal of Clinton's claims of top level political experience, during her eight years at husband Bill Clinton's side as first lady between 1993 and 2001.
"Senator Clinton is claiming basically the entire eight years of the Clinton presidency as her own, except for the stuff that didn't work out, in which case she says she has nothing to do with it," Obama said in an ABC News interview to be broadcast later Monday.
He compared conversations between the former president and his wife with his own talks with his own spouse.
"I don't think Michelle would claim that she is the best qualified person to be a United States senator by virtue of me talking to her on occasion about the work I've done."
The Clinton campaign hit back hard, driving home her argument that Obama would need "on the job training" in the White House.
"Considering that Senator Obama was a state senator just three years ago, he is the last person to be questioning anyone's experience," said Clinton spokesman Phil Singer.
"If he is elected, he would have less experience than any American president of the 20th century."
The Zogby poll reopened a simmering debate in the Democratic presidential field over which candidate has the best chance to beat a
Republican in the general election showdown in November 2008.
In hypothetical 2008 matchups, it showed Clinton trailed Senator John McCain 42 percent to 38 percent, ex-mayor of New York Rudolph Giuliani by 43 percent to 40 percent and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney 43 to 40 percent.
She also lagged behind former Arkansas Republican governor Mike Huckabee by 44 to 39 percent, and former Senator Fred Thompson by 44 to 40 percent.
Clinton's top Democratic challengers Obama and John Edwards however would still beat their hypothetical Republican rivals in potential 2008 contests, the poll showed.
In July, Clinton held a five point lead in the same poll over Giuliani, edged out McCain by two points and had a clear lead over other contenders.
A Rasmussen poll last week had Clinton also falling behind Giuliani in a November 2008 matchup and narrowly beaten by McCain.
An average of all previous similar polls however gives Clinton a narrow lead over possible Republican candidates, and the former first lady still leads most state and national polls.
An ABC News/Washington Post poll last week in Iowa however gave Obama the slimmest of leads over her and former vice presidential nominee John Edwards.
Clinton has repeatedly portrayed herself as the most electable Democrat after years standing up to what she calls the "Republican attack machine."
"I have absorbed a lot of attacks, my opponents have basically had a free reign," she told CBS News in an interview on Monday.
"After (being) attacked as often as I have from several of my opponents, you can't just absorb it, you have to respond."
Clinton also dismissed the idea that one of her rivals could deprive her of the Democratic nomination. "It will be me," she said.
The Zogby poll was conducted online among 9,150 likely voters across the United States between November 21 and 26, and carried a margin of error of plus or minus one percentage point.