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Clinton on the attack

From NBC's Andrea Mitchell
Clinton will step up attacks on Obama today, claiming he ducked tough issues as an Illinois state legislator -- and that he can't be a "change agent" if he doesn't know how to fight for change.

According to aides, at her first event today, Clinton will give a tough speech outlining her differences with Obama -- and will lay out examples from his record where she says he's backed away from tough decisions. The campaign believes this proves that he is not up to a fight with Republicans.

Clinton will claim that Obama voted "present" among the highest percentage of Illinois state legislators. The point is that when controversial issues came up he ducked -- including votes on gun control in schools and women's right to choose.

According to campaign sources, her new strategy will be to tell voters that -- contrary to Obama's theme that you can't be an agent of change if you're a veteran of past political battles -- that the only way to win "change" is to be a fighter.

Responding to criticism that Clinton made a mistake by going after Obama's ethics and character last night, aides say "she thinks if there are criticisms to make, she should be the one making them. There are important differences between her and the other candidates, especially Obama. She thinks she needs to make that case, and that there are differences people don't know."

A senior aide chimed in: "You have to make the case, and the candidate is the most effective person to do it. They've questioned her character for six weeks -- she's going to respond."

Why is Obama now doing better with women? Their answer: "Obama has been attacking her in Iowa for more than a month. Those attacks have been unresponded to -- but they won't any longer."

Aides say that today, "She won't mention Obama by name -- but she'll go through and chop up his argument that because you've been in fights, you can't be an agent of change. She'll say you can't be change unless you've been in some fights and know how to fight, because change is hard. She will go through examples where he has backed down in face of adversity -- in the Senate and in the Illinois state legislature."