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The Harper PMO is mocking Michael Ignatieff, comparing him to the late U.S. Senator Ted Kennedy and his famous interview in which he couldn't answer why he wanted to be President.

In a particularly pointed and caustic Alerte-Info-Alert missive that is sent to Tory MPs and supporters, the PMO says the Liberal leader couldn't give an answer in a recent end-of-year interview as to why he wants to be Prime Minister.

"It was a lob question," states the PMO email. "Emmanuelle Latraverse (a Radio-Canada television journalist) asked Michael Ignatieff why he wants to be Prime Minister. An easy question for a man who wants the job so badly he tried to force an election in the middle of a recession - someone who returned from Harvard just so he could become Prime Minister."

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The PMO internal e-mail says that Mr. Ignatieff couldn't give a straight answer and that he stumbled and rambled.

"He talked about everything and anything, except why he wants to become PM."

The PMO says Mr. Ignatieff's interview evokes memories of the 1979 interview given by the late U.S. Senator, who stumbled when he was asked by broadcaster Roger Mudd as to why he wanted to be president.

"It was a defining moment of the 1980 presidential election," says the PMO. Quoting Kennedy biographer Steve Aschburner, the PMO writes that, "the reaction of a lot of Americans was that Kennedy either was unprepared for the job or felt it was his birthright."

Says the PMO talking points: "This latest episode demonstrates what we have said all along: Michael Ignatieff is not in it for Canadians. He is in it for himself."

The missive even provides Youtube video links to Mr. Ignatieff's interview and that given by Senator Kennedy in 1979.

The Ignatieff Liberals are livid.

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"Using the Office of the Prime Minister for this sort of partisan garbage has to be a new low," says a senior Liberal official.

The Ignatieff official says that using the PMO to send out this attack is "undignified, in real bad taste and shows disrespect for the institution."

He noted, too, that Mr. Ignatieff was able to answer the question "quite eloquently" in another year-end interview, this time with Craig Oliver on CTV's Question Period.

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