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. Jay

    John Edwards why didn't you fight the special interests when you were in the senate? you phony

    January 4, 2008 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  2. Steve Franks with 16 years of experience living and working in the Middle East

    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?

    January 4, 2008 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  3. Gobama, NY, NY


    Edwards is carrying chips on his shoulder from the mills of Carolina. LOL

    Talk to the American people!
    Ignore the yapping at the heels.
    It is the loser's last stand; and he will do and say anything; in order to appeal to the lowest common denominator.

    Corporate people ARE Americans too. They need to be made to join in UNITY FOR AMERICA, FOR CHANGE FROM THE OLD B!TCHING WAYS!

    Don't fight Edwards who is carrying chips on his shoulders from his families years in the mills.

    January 4, 2008 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  4. Henry

    wow, Edward desperation has started to set in!

    January 4, 2008 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  5. brandon

    Is that desperation in the air or is John Edwards speaking? Maybe it is a little of both. I understand the need to examine someon for the presidency, but Edwards attack seems limiting and almost childish. We could examine what he has done in office the past 4 years. Oh wait he hasn't been in office the last four years to create a record. The reason Obama won in Iowa is because of these kinds of attacks against him by Edwards and Clinton.

    January 4, 2008 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  6. Marko, Chicago IL

    Edwards should have taken a peak at the GOP race in Iowa and noted that attacking and being negative turns away voters.

    January 4, 2008 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  7. Jr., California

    Don't even try it Edwards.

    January 4, 2008 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  8. betty

    Another form of Howard dean scream from Edwards!

    January 4, 2008 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  9. karol

    Obama did well because he is something exciting and new. Obama also, frankly, seems like an honest, decent person.

    January 4, 2008 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  10. Biggdawg

    Unspoken by CNN is what legislation ultimately passed. Similar to Clinton, Obama failed to get consensus and ultimately the legislation that passed was legislation that simply called for a "study" on the issue of health care. That's it. No substance resulted.

    But of course those facts would not be consistent with the narrative, so let's not let them get in the way....

    January 4, 2008 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  11. john williams san diego, ca.

    Edwards only claim to fame is that this trial lawyer of a fraud, made million of millions of dollars pretending to care about the poor in America,

    January 4, 2008 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  12. BKK, Atlanta, GA

    Edwards, You went after HRC and Obama wins in IA now you want to go after Obama probably HRC wins in NH. You would never win with your phony rhetorics. Go away, everybody knows you are a phony.

    January 4, 2008 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  13. Tom Edmonds

    I always knew Obama was phoney. The thing with him is that he hasn't been vetted, and the moron Democrats in Iowa fell flat for this guy.

    Richardson '08

    January 4, 2008 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  14. Priscilla

    Edward's is showing just the kind of old politic's that we are trying to get away from. It will be his downfall. Obama just needs to stay focused on what he said in his speech in Iowa. I really have hope for our country.

    January 4, 2008 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  15. Tim, Seattle

    The one problem with Edwards (who I like) is that he is too one-dimensional in his campaigning. You cant tie everything in the world to corporate greed. Some of Americas problems dont have to do with corporations.
    I liked his post-caucus speech, but it sounds like more and more the running to be Attorney General instead of President.

    January 4, 2008 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  16. Stacey, Durham, NC

    Wow! Now THAT'S negative campaigning. All the Republicans try to nail Romney for showing contrast adds and then other candidates get to drop these character assassinations for free? Hypocrisy at it's finest.

    January 4, 2008 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  17. Walt, Belton, TX

    Considering Edwards (1) owes his fortunes to corporate money and (2) got most of his campaigns funds from corporate money, where's Edwards' support from the little people he condescends to?

    January 4, 2008 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  18. Caucauses

    Edwards is the most arrogant candidate ever. Did he learn nothing from Mitt Romney's failure last night? He'd better watch it or he's going to ruin any chances he has of doing well in New Hampshire, Florida and the Feb. 5. voting areas.

    January 4, 2008 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  19. Reil Pearson. TX

    Obama won because people chose him. To the losers, they will always be a reason for them to be sour. I think Edwards is just one of them. But it is just the beginning, lets see in New Hampshire.

    January 4, 2008 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  20. CE, Wisconsin, USA

    I supported Edwards the last time around but have been with Obama this primary season. Edwards was previously a member of the centrist Democratic Leadership Council and espoused a more consensus oriented style while speaking of Two Americas.

    Now he is the angriest man in America championing the populist cause, but surprisingly after campaigning in Iowa since '04 he lost the union vote to Obama.

    He has taken several stances with strident rhetoric that does not match his past actions. Let me be specific:

    1. Voted for the Iraq War before he oppesed the War.

    2. He supported and worked for a major Bankruptcy Bill (Bank of America has major opperations and influence in his native North Carolina) that is draconian in its support of corporate interests v. individuals. He later admitted was a mistake- see You Tube.

    3. He attacks trade agreements but, once again, he supported Favorite Nation Trading Status with China that has opened the door to cheap AND sometimes Dangerous products for China. Dennis Kucinich chastised him for this because as a trial lawyer, he should have seen the product liability implications of this action...on second thought I guess this would be good for some of his fellow trial lawyers.

    4. He advocates gutting No Child Left Behind. Yes, you guessed correctly if you said that Edwards also voted for this bill.

    So now he has decided to negative after his 2nd place "victory" in Iowa. He was a full 8 points off the lead and only a point from being in third. He is taking shots that he is not the "glitzy, glamorus" candidate. That and $400 bucks will get him a haircut.

    January 4, 2008 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  21. Brad, Charleston, SC

    Edwards, shut up!
    Ask Mitt how the negative campaigns are working out!

    Edwards '08

    January 4, 2008 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  22. Tammy, Denton, Maryland

    John Edwards is finished. He's finished, done, history. He lost. Now stop whining about it.

    Edwards practically created his own 527 to run a bunch of negative ads against Obama. Hillary had ASFME run a bunch of negative ads against Obama for her. It didn't work. Iowans saw through their desperate attempts.

    I'm looking forward to the day when we don't have to listen to the hypocrisy of the Edwards or the Clintons.

    January 4, 2008 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  23. Bill

    Congrats to the Obama campaign for putting Sen. Clinton and her self proclaimed
    'experience" in perspective. Hopefully Billary will fail in NH and get out of the race. By the way, I'm an Independent who is leaning towards Sen. McCain but still undecided.

    January 4, 2008 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  24. Bill, Commack NY

    Obama is just another politician who will say and do anything to get elected. Edwards doesn't need this job, nor, I'm sure, does he have a burning desire to be doing this while his wife may be dying. But apparently both she and her husband know how important it is for us to elect someone who will put the screws to the health care industry, the drug industry, the oil industry and everyone else that is screwing the middle class to within an inch of its existence. He needs to stop smiling so much, though, and get angry. He should watch Peter Finch in "Network" and make "we're mad as hell and we're not going to take it anymore" his campaign slogan.

    January 4, 2008 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  25. Tim O'Brien

    Yeah Obama is a corporate sell-out that's why he lives in a multi-million dollar mansion in North Carolina and represented hedge funds.

    Oh wait! Doh! That's Edwards..... Edwards is the corporate sell-out, he must have been talking about himself.

    Oooops John Edwards, some of us really did like you, but now that you've gone negative against Obama..... time to drop out.

    January 4, 2008 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
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