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Obama turns tax heat on Hillary Clinton

The Obama campaign demanded in a conference call that Hillary immediately release her tax returns, which opponents accuse of her trying to cover up.

world Updated: Mar 06, 2008 23:34 IST

Barack Obama on Wednesday turned to hardball tactics after Hillary Clinton's comeback wins staved off extinction for her Democratic White House bid, as President George W Bush embraced Republican candidate John McCain.

Obama aides vowed to fight fire with fire, after Hillary's withering scrutiny of his integrity and national security mettle helped her break his 12-contest win streak in three of Tuesday's four nominating showdowns.

"The vetting of Hillary Clinton has yet to start. The hard questions haven't been asked of Senator Clinton," said Obama strategist David Axelrod.

The Obama campaign demanded in a conference call that Hillary immediately release her tax returns, which opponents accuse of her trying to cover up.

Axelrod also accused the former first lady’s camp of initiating a “search and destroy” mission against Obama, over a hard-hitting ad campaign questioning his capacity to handle a late-night foreign policy crisis as President.

On the Republican side, in the latest twist to an often complicated relationship, Bush welcomed McCain, whom he crushed in the 2000 primary race, to the White House, the day after the Arizona senator finally clinched the nomination.

“He’s going to win,” said Bush, and pledged to campaign for his once sworn foe.

“If he wants my pretty face standing by his side at one of these rallies, I’ll be glad to show up,” Bush said.

Earlier, as weary Democratic strategists geared up for the reality that the most expensive nominating battle in history will likely stretch into June, and even into August’s convention, Hillary’s camp fired the first shot.

In a memo sketching Hillary’s “path to the presidency” her camp warned: “The vetting of Obama has just begun."