January 4th, 2008
02:25 PM ET
10 years ago

Edwards campaign says Obama was a corporate sellout

(CNN) - In the wake of its Iowa loss to rival Barack Obama, John Edwards’ campaign is ramping up the negative tone of the final days of that race – accusing the Illinois senator of having once been a sellout to corporate interests.

Edwards has made his populist stand a cornerstone of his campaign.

"Barack Obama's kind of change is where you sit down and you cut a deal with the corporate world," Edwards Campaign Manager David Bonior said during an interview with MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough. "If you look at his record in Illinois when he had a major - sponsored a major health bill that's what he did. He watered down with the help of the corporate lobbyist and they got a weak product out of that."

Scarborough asked: "Are you saying that Barack Obama is a sellout to corporate interests?"

Bonior replied: "He was four years ago in Illinois. All you have to do is look at the legislation I'm referring to."

Bonior was referring to health care legislation that Obama was instrumental in passing when he was an Illinois state senator five years ago, in part because he worked with insurance companies to make additions to the bill that would ensure their approval of the measure.

The Obama campaign immediately responded. In an e-mail to the Huffington Post, spokesman Ben Labolt said that "The reason Barack Obama won such a commanding victory in Iowa is because Americans of all parties are hungry for a leader who can bring people together to take on the special interests. That's how Barack Obama actually took on lobbyists and won in Illinois, and that's how he expanded health care to 150,000 Illinois children and parents."

–CNN's Rebecca Sinderbrand

soundoff (188 Responses)
  1. Julie

    I am so tired of hearing Obama say "I was against the war'". That is easy to say when you weren't even a senator the. What about the vote on Iran recently? He says he is against it. But he didn't bother to vote on it did he? Wimpy way to say whatever is politically correct at a later date. Just wait until tonight when Edwards puts Obama to shame on the debate floor. Obama gives a hell of a good speach. I will give him that. He just can't hang in there during the debates. That tells me that 1. he has a great speachwriter and 2. he has a lot of fluff and says things that get people motivated and that is about it

    Ask him what he has done for the African-American community. Not much. Could it be because he is to busy playing to the CEO's and other leaders? Probably. I think that in a few years he could be a good leader or presidential material. He is just not ready now. He needs to get some more votes in and some good legislation passed. He has not done much of either.

    Edwards '08

    January 5, 2008 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  2. Tonya

    There is something about Obama that dosen't seem right. I haven't put my finger on it. I think caution should be used when casting a vote for this one. As for Edwards, Maybe fighting your way out of the mills proves to the rest of us that there is hope in the American Dream!!

    January 5, 2008 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  3. Trang, Fremont CA

    Obama wins because he wants to lead the 'United States'. Hillary wants to beat the Republicans. Edwards wants to beat the corporation. Obama brings the country together. Hillary and Edwards further divide the country.

    January 5, 2008 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  4. Harold Bishop, NH

    Truth is, Edwards made MILLIONS suing companies as a trial lawayer. This is what counts for his experience in "taking on special interests, lobbyists and corporations".

    Obama on the other hand turned down working for the major law firms and went to work on the streets as a community organiser.

    Worth knowing.

    Obama is more trustoworthy.

    January 5, 2008 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  5. Steve, Lyons, CO

    Gads. There goes Edwards AGAIN, one day after stupidly saying that Hillary was finished based on Iowa.

    Edwards has the best health care plan, and has other great visions of helping Americans live their lives.

    But I can no longer support his candidacy. I am SICK AND TIRED of Dems attacking Dems, when we have criminal domestic terrorists running the country, and Edwards by a large margin is the prime offender.

    Goodbye, John. You've lost my support.

    It's down to Obama and Hillary for me.

    January 5, 2008 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  6. Steve, Lyons, CO

    "By the way, I'm an Independent who is leaning towards Sen. McCain but still undecided."

    I feel sorry for you. You've chosen a man who's turned into a far-right religious extremist and Bush butt licker. As I've said, from war hero to political coward: anybody who praises James Dobson has a screw loose.

    January 5, 2008 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  7. nadeem

    Scott, you asked about pressure.

    One thing i can tell you about growing up a minority, you are always under pressure. Pressure to not fall under the same old stereotypes, pressure to prove the critiques wrong. He has dealt with it at every level of his political career and has always handled it well.

    We saw how Clinton handled pressure when he was in the white house. We also saw how the Clintons handle it in campaigning – scorched earth.

    At that level it is tough to judge, but i can say that character and values matter more than experience.

    A persons values can never change, if you have the right values pressure cannot get you to do things that go against your core value.

    You will have to judge for yourself, but values of choosing, south Chicago streets over Wall street, and being a civil right lawyer instead of a lawyer who pursues frivolous litigation for monitory reward speak to a good set of value, not taking money from lobbyists for short term political gain also speak to strong values.

    January 5, 2008 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  8. sharp

    every one is right Obama will bring about change like Jessie Jackson and Al Sharpton helping run the country. Edwards in 2008

    January 5, 2008 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  9. Kristy Show Me State

    Well said Scott.


    This country is in a huge mess at home and throughout the world!
    As Americans we have slid down the mountain. Our politicians are slaves to corporate lobbyist. We are stuck with consistent Presidential vetos. We are going NOWHERE FAST! I too think Obama is a good man but democrats as always will
    have to deal with the the great divide in our country. It's great to use the word
    HOPE we all want hope for the future. But please try to be a realist. My family needs a sure thing. We don't gamble and I beleive many Americans are so
    disgusted with this administration that they are willing to roll the dice! The attitude is (This sounds WONDERFUL) lets get on this bandwagon. My family has never heard Obama truely answer the diffacult questions, where are the direct questions with the public at his rallies? I could see him as a Vice President learning for the 8 years. There is a great deal at risk in the next 4 years. The wars alone will consume enormous amounts of time. The next President needs to be able to take immediate action and not feel his/her away around, there just is not anytime for weak experience. Yes CHANGE is the word! We all know and the candidates know that we have to have change because what is going on does not work. Please make sure you do your HOMEWORK concerning which lobbyist are connected to whom and think about how that could effect immediate actions! EDWARDS has the passion, experience and foriegn relations, CLINTON has experience, foreign relations but there is the on going dynasty factor (which some feel is tired).
    Thank you for reading how my family feels.



    January 5, 2008 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  10. Anonymous

    All of the presidential candidates are selling us short due to their lack of experience in foreign policy. No hands-on, no- on-the-job training knowledge to deal with the fact that the world is running out of oil and 60% of our imported oil comes from the Middle East. The fact that we are in Iraq and the Middle East to secure our supply of oil, to keep the wheels of our capitalistic industry turning. Wake-up Americans, and elect our next president who has lived in the Middle East for at least ten plus years, a candidate with experience and knowledge from the world to govern the world. Who is this person? Where do we find him? Definitely not the present candidates. The American people should manage their own destiny by advertising on the web and newspapers for the candidate with 10 – 25 years of experience in the Middle East. Otherwise, the United States will continue to venture down the same path as the illiterate failed Roman Empire, destruction from within. Do we repeat history to become one of the failed Empires?

    Wow... You just described my choice for President of the United States..Ron Paul
    Frank if you seriously want all of those things take a look at Ron Paul and you will see he completely understands all of this. I may sound crazy but he confronts all of the issues you just stated and most importantly how it is leading us to become another failed empire. You need to take a serious look at Ron Paul because if you think nobody is running for president willing to admit and deal with these things your are mistaken.

    January 5, 2008 09:33 pm at 9:33 pm |
  11. Gane

    Senator Edwards, I would NOT vote for you because you are making your case only on of the expense of Hilary Clinton.

    Gentleman?! What is it? On the debate you ware like a Hyena over her, before her suit... Is that a simple jealousy lire most of American women (surprise for me, even Pakistanis are more advance in this meter and Bhutto was killed from her enemies).

    Second, do you deny that "Clinton's machine" work peaty well for americans for 8 years ?

    It is partly your fault. Why didn't you win the Election in 2000? Now you are blaming Hilary that America is really in a big ...

    You still play your ego agenda, Sur! Obama will be chewed and spit from Republicans, because he has not very much to offer then word "Change" (He sounds to me like those communist leaders who had been feeding the people only with nice word and hopes of future almost heavenly life; UTOPIA, eh , worked for some period).

    Americans , please, just do not compare him with JFK.

    If you really are talking from your heard, it is not late you to make some REAL CHANGE- make sure Democrat to be in the Oval office this time even that is not you.

    As I rite on a CNN goes a Braking New about Iranians? I imagine Senator Obama in the Oval office with pence full of..

    Wake up Americans, it is very serious , do not blow it again!

    January 7, 2008 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  12. Debra

    You Obama supporters quit your whining. and wake up! Obama has gotten a free pass by the media. The media darling has had very little scrutiny. Anytime questions are raised about him you start crying "negative!". Wait till the general election when the republicans swift boat him. Also, his speech stumps are not that genuine and inspiration al when they keep sounding more and more like Edwards' speeches. And another thing: Edwards is truthful when he claims to be the "son of a millworker". Obama took this from Edwards and claims to be "the son of a sheep herder". His father was a rich farmer from Kenya

    January 7, 2008 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  13. Neil Garland

    The real problem about Obama, is he himself, says very little, just a pep talk, cheerleader rap, maybe, what are you going to do as president to advocate for the people. This American Idol syndrome that students think it is ok to cheat on exams, vote twice or more in presidential elections, fudge legal loopholes, allowing outside students to vote, what has Iowa and New Hampshire proven politically? Nothing, we are worse off politically than 4 years ago, when we had problems in the general election. Republicans voting democratic, independents voting in primaries, this is bull, bunk, and paints an unrealistic picture of falsified tomfoolery, and the media calls this representative democracy at work. The founding fathers are rolling in their graves, Lincoln is wondering, should I finally return and complete my final term, as these folks know nothing of an honest candidate with charisma.

    January 8, 2008 02:35 am at 2:35 am |
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