Hillary Rodham Clinton
Barack Obama

DES MOINES Hillary Rodham Clintons aides went to bed Saturday night with the bad news from the new Des Moines Register poll on their minds, and they woke up Sunday and quickly pounced on the polls new No. 1, Barack Obama, with teeth bared.

Clinton aides made three hits on Mr. Obama within just a few hours on health care, campaign spending, and candor yet denied that they were acting out of concern about the new Register poll, which showed Mr. Obama in a statistical dead heat with Mrs. Clinton with less than five weeks to go until the Jan. 3 caucuses.

Mrs. Clintons spokesman, Howard Wolfson, appeared on CBSs Face the Nation with Mr. Obamas strategist, David Axelrod, and engaged in some warmed-over jousting about the candidates health insurance plans (they have been skirmishing for two weeks now about whether the respective plans would cover everyone). Then Mr. Wolfson threw a days-old story in Mr. Axelrods face: That the Obama campaign used an Obama political action committee to spread around money in states that hold the first primaries and caucuses.

Mr. Wolfson accused the Obama campaign, with the PAC, of taking in money from lobbyists despite the fact he said he doesnt take money from lobbyists, taking in money from lobbyists and giving money out to candidates in New Hampshire and Iowa to support his presidential campaign.

I would call on David David, will you shut down Senator Obamas slush fund? Mr. Wolfson said.

Mr. Axelrod said that he did not think there was any money left in the PAC, but did not address head-on whether there was anything wrong with the way the PAC money was used.

What Mr. Obama has done spending a portion of the remaining funds from his winding-down leadership PAC in a way that helps his campaign appears to stay within the letter but not the spirit of campaign finance rules. Although his actions seem to comply with Federal Election Commission rulings, he has in effect drawn on a second pool of political contributions to make payments that benefit his presidential campaign.

Of course, before the campaign officially began all the serious presidential candidates used such political action committees to make similar payments to build good will in pivotal states. Not all, however, continued to tap their political action committees that way through mid-2007.

A few hours later, the Clinton campaign accused Mr. Obama of re-writing history by saying that he had not been planning for years to run for president like some of the other candidates. The campaign included news articles and statements of friends or relatives of Mr. Obama saying that he had been thinking of running for president for at least a decade.

Mr. Obama, speaking at a news conference in Des Moines today, shared his view about the Clinton onslaught.

I think that folks from some of the other campaigns are reading the polls and starting to get stressed and issuing a whole range of outlandish accusations, Mr. Obama said. Everything that weve done is in exact accordance with the law. .

Well well well.  Suddenly the controlled, scripted Hillary is gone.  Suddenly the formulaic image-driven Hillary is replaced by the fanged and bare knuckled variety. 

There have been rumors throughout this campaign that Hillary has things on Obama.  And if she does, don't doubt for a minute that they will come out - or that it will be made to look like Hillary had nothing to do with  the outing.

This is the Clinton way.  It has worked before.  Count on it being used now.