Did Hillary Clinton’s longtime PR attack dog, Howard Wolfson, try to take a bite out of Barack Obama’s hide a bit too early? Wolfson demanded earlier this week that Obama take the extreme steps of removing Hollywood mogul David Geffen from his campaign and return his contributions after Geffen dissed the Clintons in an interview. It’s a dis that some strategists think didn’t need to be addressed. “It’s weird they let this happen,” says Basil Smikle Jr., a former senior Hillary aide turned political strategist. “That was a mistake.” How so?
“If you’re the front-runner, you don’t need to make such a strong attack so early in the race,” Smikle, who is not yet committed in the ‘08 race, theorizes. “It’s a sign of weakness on her part. You start to acknowledge him, you raise his profile. Now you’ve elevated him. You walked right into it. Unless the Clinton folks rein their people in, you’re going to see a lot of that down the road.” Another strategist calls Wolfson’s Obama offensive “bizarrely misplaced,” a major overreaction to Geffen’s remark. “I don’t think the American heartland gives a fuck that a guy who makes good movies thinks Hillary Clinton is calculating. The spin should be how not to make Hillary look like the Iron Lady.” Wolfson declined to comment. —Geoffrey Gray