WASHINGTON — Hillary Clinton's campaign accused Barack Obama on Monday of violating the pledge that has kept the Democratic candidates from competing in Florida and suggested that it might now do the same.
The campaign charged that a 60-second biographical spot about the Illinois senator that began airing Monday on CNN and MSNBC violates an agreement not to campaign in unauthorized primary states because the ad can be viewed in Florida.
Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, D-Fla., national co-chair of the Clinton campaign, suggested that Obama's ad could open the door for Clinton to advertise in Florida before the Jan. 29 primary.
All leading Democrats signed a pledge last fall to stay out of any state that had moved its primary date up in a bid to share Iowa and New Hampshire's media attention. That includes Florida, whose primary is the last battleground before Super Tuesday on Feb. 5, when 22 states vote in Democratic contests.
"If they are trying to upend the playing field, then it's our responsibility to make sure that we review all the options available to us,'' Wasserman-Schultz said. "No decisions have been made,'' she added.
Obama's campaign accused Clinton, who's held a comfortable lead in several Florida polls, of looking for a reason to break the pledge. It rejected that his ads violate the pledge.
Obama campaign manager David Plouffe said the campaign wanted to run a national ad aimed at voters in the Feb. 5 states, but was told by the cable networks that it was impossible to exclude Florida. He said the campaign checked with South Carolina Democratic Party Chair Carol Fowler, one of the creators of the pledge, who told the campaign "it was clearly not a violation,'' Plouffe said.
The spat comes just a week after Obama accused Clinton of looking to violate the pledge by holding fundraisers in the state. The pledge does not prevent the candidates from raising money in the rogue states, and Clinton's campaign has three private fundraisers planned for Sunday in Florida, including two events in Miami and one in Sarasota.
Plfouffe said the Obama campaign has no intention of campaigning in Florida.
"We made a commitment to the early states we will not be campaigning in Florida,'' he said. "If they decide to, more power to them, because obviously they've repeatedly said this is a race for delegates. If they prefer to spend their time and resources in a state offering no delegates, that would be a curious decision on their part.''