Clinton says rival in ‘swampy’ territory

ALBANY, N.Y. – Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton accused her Republican challenger of getting into “swampy territory” after he was quoted Monday as saying that Clinton was unattractive when she was younger and that she had a lot of work done on herself.

John Spencer denied discussing the senator’s looks during a conversation with a New York Daily News reporter.

The tabloid quoted Spencer as saying: “You ever see a picture of her back then? Whew. I don’t know why Bill married her.”

Spencer, former mayor of the New York City suburb of Yonkers, was also quoted as saying that Clinton underwent millions of dollars of “work” and “looks good now.”

During a campaign stop at a senior citizens center in Watervliet, just outside Albany, Clinton said: “It’s unfortunate that when you don’t have anything positive to say about the issues that we can get off in some pretty swampy territory.”

After the newspaper came out, Spencer said the comments were “a fabrication. I would never call Hillary Clinton ugly. That’s outrageous. I didn’t do it.”

The newspaper’s front-page headline screamed “GETTING UGLY.”

The reporter, Ben Smith, spoke with Spencer during a flight Friday from New York City to Rochester. He told the AP that Spencer made the comments as Spencer, his wife and Smith sat together. He said he did not tape-record the comments but took notes on his Blackberry.

Clinton adviser Howard Wolfson said Clinton has had no plastic surgery or similar appearance-enhancing work.

“I’m not sure what’s worse, that Mr. Spencer made these insulting comments or that instead of owning up and apologizing for them, he is lying about them,” Wolfson added. “Either way, it’s clear that he is unfit for the U.S. Senate.”

Clinton joked with reporters during her stop in Watervliet that “my high-school picture was cute.” It was also on the tabloid’s front page.

Polls have shown Clinton, 58, far ahead of the craggy-faced, 59-year-old Spencer in the Senate race.

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