US Senator Hillary Clinton on Monday accused US President George W. Bush's chief political adviser, Karl Rove, of "obsessing" about her after the publication of a book quoting him as saying she would win the Democratic nomination but was too "brittle" to win the presidency in 2008.
The row is part of the shadow boxing preceding the next presidential election, expected to be unusually open because it will be the first time in more than half a century that neither a sitting president nor a vice president will be standing.
In Strategery, a new book published on Monday by a conservative Washington journalist, Bill Sammon, Rove is quoted as predicting Hillary Clinton would win the Democratic presidential primaries and become the party's nominee in 2008.
"She is the dominant player on their side of the slate. Anybody who thinks that she's not going to be the candidate is kidding themselves," Rove said.
However, he added that Clinton would lose the general election because of "her personal philosophy and her brittleness about her."
Hitting back in an interview on a New York radio station, Clinton, who has not formally announced her intention to run for the presidency, said Rove "spends a lot of time obsessing about me."
"He spends more time thinking about my political future than I do," Clinton added, claiming that the White House was trying to distract attention from a recent string of gaffes, as well as the problems facing Republican candidates in this year's congressional elections.
"What they're hoping is that all of their missteps, which are now numbering in the hundreds, are going to somehow be overlooked because people, instead of focusing on the '06 election, will jump ahead and think about the next one," she said.