New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson shakes hands out on the campaign trail.
OSCEOLA, Iowa (CNN) - Democratic presidential candidate Bill Richardson said Tuesday that he has no problem taking money from federal lobbyists.
"What am I supposed to [do]?" the New Mexico governor asked. "I have enough trouble raising money to run a campaign."
Two other Democratic candidates, former Sen. John Edwards and Sen. Barack Obama, have turned the issue of not accepting campaign contributions from Washington lobbyists into a major staple of their campaigns. But not Richardson.
"The unions have lobbyists in Washington," Richardson said. "I take money from them. Nurses, environmentalists, senior citizens."
While acknowledging that he supports certain restrictions be place on lobbyist contributions, he added, "But to say, you know, ban all lobbyists?... I just want to be realistic. You know there are a lot of slogans out there, and I think we want honesty."
Last month, Sen. Hillary Clinton defended her practice of accepting lobbyist contributions. At a forum in early August she said lobbyists "represent real Americans." At that same forum, Richardson said it was "silly" to refuse lobbyist money. He told the crowd the candidates are "sucking up to you... [with] slogans that get you cheering."
- CNN Iowa Producer Chris Welch