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THE 2008 CAMPAIGN: US economy slipping towards recession: Hillary Clinton

The economy is likely to become a bigger factor in the US presidential campaign in the coming weeks as it moves beyond Iowa and this week New Hampshire primary into more populous states such as California and Florida

(MANCHESTER, New Hampshire) Democratic presidential contender Hillary Clinton believes that the US economy is heading towards a recession.

Citing jobs data on Friday that showed the US unemployment rate rising to its highest level in more than two years, Mrs Clinton said on Saturday, ‘I think the economy is slipping towards recession.’ US employers added only 18,000 jobs in December, underlining a dramatically slowing economy. In addition, oil prices hit US$100 a barrel last week.

‘The unemployment figures on Friday hitting 5 per cent, US$100-a-barrel oil that we also hit this week, the fall of the dollar, there’s a lot of pressure on middle-class families and a kind of cost that they have to keep up with have all gone up astronomically,’ the New York senator said in a debate with Democratic rivals before New Hampshire’s tight nominating contest tomorrow.

The thinking on Wall Street is that a recession cannot be avoided without serious help from the US Federal Reserve and only if troubles in the housing and credit markets have bottomed out, analysts say. Mrs Clinton also launched a searing attack on surging rival Barack Obama, as polls showed on Sunday he could inflict a second body blow to her White House hopes in the upcoming New Hampshire primary.

Mrs Clinton on Saturday used a tense face-to-face debate, three days before the next crucial 2008 test to argue her rival was inconsistent, inexperienced, and more fond of words than action.

‘He could have a pretty good debate with himself,’ a steely Mrs Clinton said, trying to pin the damaging ‘flip-flop’ label on Mr Obama on hot-button issues like healthcare, national security and Iraq. Mrs Clinton came out swinging after a humiliating third place in Thursday’s leadoff Iowa caucuses, which validated Mr Obama’s soaring message of hope, change and cleansing America’s poisoned politics.

‘You have changed positions within three years on a range of issues that you put forth when you ran for the Senate and have changed,’ she said. ‘You said that records matter.’ She also argued his powerful rhetoric did not mean he would be effective in driving reform, and said her quest to be the first woman president showed she was an agent of change. ‘Words are not actions. And as beautifully presented and passionately felt as they are, they are not action.’

Mr Obama, stature enhanced by his Iowa triumph, avoided serious gaffes, appeared unruffled by Mrs Clinton’s attacks, and smoothly deflected them with his own political message. ‘What I think is important that we don’t do is try to distort each other’s records as election day approaches here in New Hampshire,’ Mr Obama said.

 

Source: Reuters, AFP (Business Times 7 Jan 08)

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