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Clinton Faces the Press Twice in Eight Hours

(CBS)
From CBS News' Fernando Suarez:

TOLEDO, OHIO -- Late last night aboard her campaign plane, Hillary Clinton held a press conference with friend and supporter, actor Ted Danson. Less than eight hours later, the Clinton campaign called for yet another press conference surprising many of the traveling reporters. But it soon became clear that the early morning press conference was aimed to draw attention to recent reports that a senior economic adviser for Barack Obama met with Canadian officials to downplay Obama's tough talk on NAFTA. The Obama campaign has been on the record categorically denying such a meeting.

But a new memo shows that a meeting between Austan Goolsbee, Obama's chief economic advisor did, in fact, take place with Canadian officials, according to the Associated Press.

"If you come to Ohio and both give speeches that are very critical of NAFTA and you send out misleading and false information about my position regarding NAFTA and then we find out that your chief economic adviser has gone to a foreign government and basically done the old 'wink, wink, don't pay attention, this is just political rhetoric.' I think that raises serious questions," Clinton told reporters.

She suggested that if reporters were to substitute her name for Obama's name in this story that she would have received greater scrutiny.

"Just ask yourself," Clinton said. "If some of my advisers had been having private meetings with foreign governments basically saying 'ignore what I'm saying because its only political rhetoric,' I think it raises serious questions."

Clinton's comments come just one day before Ohioans are set to head to the polls, and she hopes the new developments will raise questions in the minds of voters.

She was asked about her chances in the upcoming primaries and how she has handled this long nomination process.

"This is the equivalent of the hazing process, who can withstand it? Who can keep going?"

And to that question, win or lose, Clinton again asserted that she plans on continuing the campaign. "I believe we will do well tomorrow I believe that's going to be a very significant message to the country. Then we move on to Pennsylvania and states still ahead, so I'm just getting warmed up."

Last night in Cleveland, Clinton made her way to the back of her campaign plane, armed with a beer in a red plastic cup and accompanied by Danson and his wife Mary Steenburgen. Clinton said she wanted to introduce the actors, but the lighthearted moment soon turned into a full-blown press conference with Clinton fielding a variety of questions from the likelihood that she can survive past March 4, to her continual references, in a TV ad and on the stump, to 3 a.m. phone calls to the president.

Clinton said she thinks the image of the phone call helps "dramatize" what the stakes are for people. "You know, I've been saying in many different ways for a year that stakes could not be higher, we face big challenges, we have real threats. I've said it over and over again. I think the jarring image of the phone call, which happens and is part of being president, helps to concentrate peoples' attentions in ways that all the descriptives just don't."

Although most of the attention was focused on Clinton, one reporter did shout out a question to Danson asking him how he felt that his friend and colleague Larry David, from the HBO show "Curb Your Enthusiasm," was supporting Obama. Danson said jokingly, "I'm out of that show. I'm never going to do it again."

Clinton chimed in, "So let's all curb our enthusiasm." Zing!