No more Mr. Nice Guys

Barack Obama and John Edwards separately castigated Democratic front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton for defending lobbyists and portrayed her as the consummate Washington insider with special interest ties.

“If you don’t think lobbyists have too much influence in Washington, then I believe you’ve probably been in Washington too long,” Obama said Monday. Added Edwards in an Associated Press interview: “Democratic candidates, and for that matter all candidates, should just say we’re not taking these peoples’ money anymore because it’s the way to take their power away from them, and it’s the way to bring about the change that this country needs.”

Among Republican hopefuls, John McCain promised to protect individual’s property rights, Rudy Giuliani sidestepped a question about his daughter’s apparent enthusiasm for Obama and Sam Brownback squared off with Mitt Romney over the sanctity of life.

Unencumbered now that Congress is on a monthlong break, presidential candidates from both parties descended on the leadoff contest state of Iowa, where they tested themes, rolled out proposals and maneuvered for support.

The sharpest elbows Monday came from Obama, the Illinois senator, and Edwards, the former North Carolina senator. They seized on Clinton’s remarks at a weekend candidate forum in Chicago to argue she was not the candidate of change but rather a Washington creature who would maintain the status quo.

On Saturday, the New York senator drew boos and hisses from liberal bloggers when, unlike Edwards and Obama, she refused to forsake campaign donations from the special interest industry. Instead, she said: “A lot of those lobbyists, whether you like it or not, represent real Americans, they actually do.”

Neither Edwards nor Obama accept money directly from federal lobbyists but both take contributions from people who work at firms with lobbying operations.

“I profoundly disagree with her statements,” Obama said in an Associated Press interview here. “This campaign is going to come down to whether you believe that it’s enough just to get somebody other than George Bush in the White House to fix what ails Washington, or do you think we need to set a fundamentally new course.”

Unveiling his trade policy at a Cedar Rapids, Iowa, union hall, Edwards argued that President Clinton allowed corporate insiders to shape the 1993 North American Free Trade Agreement that has cost U.S. jobs. Swiping at the former president’s wife, Edwards said: “It’s time to have a president that always — always — puts the interests of the American people first.”

In an AP interview, Edwards argued that Washington lobbyists “rig the system” of government and candidates can take away such influence by refusing money from them. Edwards added: “This is not specifically just about Senator Clinton or anybody else, it’s about restoring the power of the government back to its people.”

Responding to the criticism, Clinton’s campaign circulated a memo arguing that opponents were threatened by polls showing her gaining ground. Said chief strategist Mark Penn: “She is the candidate of experience and change, a combination no other candidate can match.”

Among Republicans, Brownback and Romney continued to tangle on abortion as they sought the backing of influential social conservatives days ahead of an Iowa test vote.

The Kansas senator derided Romney’s opposition to expanded federal funds for embryonic stem-cell research as “a pro-choice position” in a radio interview and, later, posted a YouTube video assailing the former Massachusetts governor as “conveniently pro-life.”

“This is the key moral issue of our day and we don’t need people equivocating on it or rediscovering things,” Brownback says in the video.

Romney told ABC’s “Good Morning America:” “Sam Brownback is a sweet guy, but he’s obviously in a pretty desperate situation at this point. I am pro-life.”

By afternoon, during a stop in Florida, Romney had placed himself alongside President Reagan as a perfect conservative on a scale of 1 to 10, if Reagan were a 10. “Probably a 10 as well,” Romney said in response to a question despite a history of shifting on various issues, including a complete switch on abortion.

In Clear Lake, Iowa, Giuliani refused to discuss the political preferences of his 17-year-old daughter, Caroline. Until Monday morning, her Facebook profile showed she belonged to Obama’s Facebook group “Barack Obama (One Million Strong for Barack).” She left the group after the online magazine Slate inquired.

“My daughter I love very much,” Giuliani told reporters before declining to comment.

A spokeswoman for Caroline Giuliani said she had added herself to the Facebook list as an expression of interest and not as an indication of support for a candidate.

McCain, for his part, courted the limited-government wing of the GOP in a Rotary Club speech in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. He criticized a 2005 Supreme Court decision giving local governments broad power to seize private property to generate tax revenue. And, he said that as president, he would “appoint strict constructionist judges” who “understand the security of private property” and, if needed, try to amend the Constitution to protect private property rights.

“Property rights protection means that the individual reaps the rewards from the sweat of his brow, not the government or those who control the government,” the Arizona senator said.


Sidoti reported from Washington. Associated Press Writers Amy Lorentzen in Cedar Rapids, Iowa; Nafeesa Syeed in Clear Lake, Iowa, and Brendan Farrington in Melbourne, Fla., contributed to this report.


  1. SnowCrash7

    We should not forget what happened in the last Presidential election with Edwards. Coming from the Carolinas, Edwards had a ready made issue that would have united right, left and center, and could have carried that ticket all the way to the White House. I am talking about how badly the mislabeled ‘Free Trade’ treaties like NAFTA had savaged the American worker. The Carolinas was truly ravaged by the vast increase in outsourcing after NAFTA passed. So had a number of battleground states like Ohio.

    Edwards was making headway hitting on this issue. Then the National Association of Manufacturers, the Chamber of Commerce and other corporate meat puppets told him to cool it.

    Edwards complied.
    They lost.
    This is somebody that will fight for the American worker?

    Now he’s trumpeting his position which he says will downsize outsourcing and off shoring. He conveniently forgets his pandering, along with Hillary and the rest of these heroes of the American worker, to the Silicone Valley special interests where he has been arguing for an INCREASE in H1b visas.
    Google the “Job Destruction newsletter”

    Its a shell game folks.
    These game show contestants are in the pockets of the mega corporations.

    From NBC News:

    SAN FRANCISCO — Democrat John Edwards Wednesday became the latest presidential hopeful to use Silicon Valley as the backdrop to present a
    plan for the future of science and technology in the U.S.

    Edwards, the Democratic vice presidential nominee in 2004, followed fellow Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican John McCain in presenting a
    science and technology plan during an appearance before the Silicon Valley Leadership Group.

    Edwards’ plan contains many similar elements to those of Clinton and McCain.

    All three candidates favor expanding the H1B visa program to allow Valley companies to hire more foreign engineers and programmers.

  2. Steve Horn

    We’ve given the business men and attorneys more than enough chances to run this nation – this time around let’s abandon those who lie about what they intend to do (like help workers), show their lack of maturity in international debate (like Obama when he suggested that he’d invade Pakistan) and have used their personal power to avoid being held to task for their legal problems (like Clinton).

    Let’s put an engineer or scientist into the Whitehouse – someone who will really be able to think their way through problems, someone who will be able to draw in the best and brightest to keep them informed and someone who is not, at heart, a politician, but rather an intellectual.

    I’m not sure who that person may be, but let’s start the search for one honest, well educated, bright, analytical American to lead this great nation of ours ….



  3. JudyB

    If you want a President who would keep the nation out of war, our budget on track, while seeing to it that the nation as a whole has what it needs to get by….you’ll have to find a mother of 12 on a limited income who has run an efficient home & raised her children well in difficult times… But, in this day and age of molly-coddling and over-indulgences, tho not impossible, the pickens are VERY slim.

  4. LurkingFromTheLeft

    MAYBE this is a job for…

    …The Duggars Family –

    …after all, they have to know fiscal responsibility –

    …even if they haven’t yet figured out this conception concept –


  5. Pablo

    If you want more turmoil and death in the middle east, vote for Hillary. The Israeli lobbyists have her in their pocket like they do her friend Lieberman. She voted for this war and the only thing I recall her criticizing about the war was we felt we should have sent more troops. At one point I thought McCain and her were going to start calling for a draft; they certainly weren’t saying from where they were going to get all those new bodies. I listen to her rhetoric and she sounds like a foreign policy hardliner to me. She is frightening. Obama and Edwards would be much less damaging to our country than her. However, we have a much better option as outlined by Phil Hoskins (see article on homepage of Capital Blue). Dennis Kucinich. He actually has a doctorate degree in speech communications. He wants to create a Department of Peace. Now there is a man truly will communicate instead of simply using up more of our weapons arsenal every time we disagree with somebody as Hillary would do. Those of us who truly consider ourselves liberal or progressive should be voting for him. He truly represents what most people want, but we need to quit being so damned frightened, inform ourselves and take the risk by quitting voting for more of the Hillary, war-monging status quo. Peace Now!

  6. allan hirsh

    mr. hirsh
    Speech communication should not need an academic credential. Would you guys like Clinton better if she was a he?

  7. Pablo

    I would like Hillary Clinton more if she was not a war monger. Personally, I’ve never considered sex or race. Surely there is a qualified female candidate that is not bought out by Israel, the arms industry, and corporate interests. Where is she?

  8. SEAL

    I support Keith Olbermann for president. Thus far he is the only person I have heard speak the truth and advocate what must be done to stop the destruction of our Constitution. Yeah, I know he would not run. But he is the one I would whole heartedly support. He makes the rest look sick.

    As far as I’m concerned, that which qualifies one to be president is what he believes and stands for. I know what Keith stands for and If Obama is being truthfull he stands for the right things. What makes a good person for foreign policy is not experience but one who has the right and good policy. I think Obama does but he doesn’t express it properly. If he were to fully explain under what conditions he would do the things he has stated it would make sense.

    Clinton has proved she cannot be believed. Her history betrays her words. I like Dennis Kucinch, he has balls, but I can see him as only the VP because he does not have the ability to inspire which any president must have. Kennedy was the poster boy for that. Dennis would be a great VP.

    If we accept the reality and ignore our hearts, Obama is the only one that can dethrone Hillary in the party and we should get behind him to do that. HILLARY MUST BE STOPPED.

    Edwards is a vain little self absorbed phoney. He wants to be president because he wants to be president.

    Ron Paul is more radical than George Wallace was and his history is full of opportunistic contradictions. He is a liar.

    Hillary only wants the power and tthe history of breaking the gender thing. She lies every time she says she would end the war.

    Obama actually wants to make a difference but in a realistic way. He knows that he will have to have the support of the “people” in order to force congress to go along with what he wants to do. He knows the changes will have to come slowly, piece by piece. Reagan sold his “trickle down” nonsense to the people so well congress has to go along. Obama learned from that. He accepts the corporate money because he knows he needs it to beat Hillary. But his corporate sponsors will find themselves betrayed to a great extent if he is elected just as Kennedy double crossed some of his backers. Obama should learn from that, also, stay inside the bubble and out of the 5 southern states, especially Texas.

    We must revent Hillary from winning the nomination and Obama is the only one who can do that if he gets the support of all of us totally aware types.

    I know this will not be a popular view but it is the reality as I see it.

  9. anthny

    Does anybody really know the truth.
    These so-called presidental canadates are panderers and flip flopers.
    AIPAC is the biggest problem in the District, they play both sides of the street.
    Liberperson should be ashamed of himself, he and his co-horts should be brought up on treason.
    And Pelosi is another big receiver of lobby money from AIPAC, that is why impeachment is off the table, the zionists don’t want to loose there boy in the white house.
    I advocate eliminating PAC’s and Lobbiests and Think-Tanks that play us all for fools and ignoramus’.
    Obams is another player in the race to show his good side, once in office they loose control and do what the rich and famous want.
    I have no faith in Federal Government,