The rival presidential campaigns of Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama traded accusations of nasty politics over Hollywood donor David Geffen, who once backed former President Bill Clinton but now supports his wife's top rival.
The Clinton campaign demanded that Obama denounce comments made by the DreamWorks movie studio founder, who told New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd in Wednesday's editions that while "everybody in politics lies," the former president and his wife "do it with such ease, it's troubling."
The Clinton camp also called on Obama to give back Geffen's $2,300 (EUR1,750) contribution.
Campaigning in Iowa, Obama refused.
"It's not clear to me why I'd be apologizing for someone else's remark," the Illinois senator said.
For her part, New York Sen. Clinton sidestepped questions, leaving the issue to her aides to discuss.
"I'm just going to stay focused on my campaign and I'm going to run a positive campaign about the issues that affect the people in our country," she told The Associated Press in an interview in Nevada. She was participating a candidate forum in Carson City, Nevada.
The Clinton team seemed eager to continue the attack. With Obama in Iowa, aides arranged for former Iowa attorney general Bonnie Campbell to criticize him in a conference call with reporters.
In the newspaper interview, Geffen also said Bill Clinton is "a reckless guy" and he does not think Hillary Clinton can bring the country together during a time of war, no matter how smart or ambitious she is.
Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs added another criticism of Clinton.
"It is also ironic that Senator Clinton lavished praise on Monday and is fully willing to accept today the support of South Carolina state Sen. Robert Ford, who said if Barack Obama were to win the nomination, he would drag down the rest of the Democratic Party because 'he's black,"' Gibbs' statement said, reports AP.
Ford later apologized. The Clinton campaign said it disagreed with Ford, but the senator has embraced his support.
Another Democratic presidential candidate, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, said at the candidate forum that Obama should denounce Geffen's comments. "We Democrats should all sign a pledge that we all be positive," Richardson said.