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. Adam

    This politicing is normal and necessary for someone who need a fair first or solid second to have any chance.

    Obama is being labeled a god by the media and his supporters, but when it comes to the general election, all his dirty laundry and the "swift-boat" bs will air and attack him from the GOP. We've yet to see him get hit and we need to see how he rebounds from this and other, harder attacks. Before the primaries are done, we (Dems) need to see if Obama can keep floating over such attacks, or if he'll mess up and eventually fold to them like Kerry did in '04.

    Alternatively, we've seen Edwards and Hillary both be attacked like this before. Hillary is constantly attacked in this manner and survives through them pretty easily. Edwards is usually harder hit by them. I expect the "flawless" Obama will get dragged down by them, but not until the general election.

    January 4, 2008 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  2. bardonaut

    So Dems control congress now. How's that conciliatory tone of Obama's working out? Are we pulling out of Iraq? Any new healthcare bills pending? How about cracking down on runaway profits for oil companies . . . are we doing anything about them?

    Leave it to a bunch of youngsters to ignore the what's going on in front of their own eyes. Here's a news flash for all you kids: compromise with the powers that be WILL NOT WORK.

    But i guess if you can ignore Obama's repeated votes to fund the war (Edwards voted AGAINST funding) and lack of a universal healthcare plan, you can ignore anything.

    Too bad this generation of "All you need is love" morons doesn't understand that you have to at least fight the power like the last one did.

    Is it possible these kids a dumb enough to think different color = different politics? If so MLK must be rolling over in his grave as we speak.

    January 4, 2008 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  3. Ryan, New Jersey

    Obama got something done in Illinois. What have you accomplished lately John?

    January 4, 2008 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  4. Lynn, Reno, NV

    Edwards is the corporate sellout... that hedge fund he worked for just a year or so ago... was a subprime lender with investment havens offshore. That is a corporate sellout Mr. Edwards. And what did you find so great about those bankruptcy bills that the credit card companies loved so much and you supported. And how about this mysterious 527 of yours headed by a lobbyist and getting a half million dollars from some shadowy corporation called Oak Springs Farms? No you are the corporate sellout Mr. Edwards, though you rant about fighting like Bush and jump on Obama for wanting to talk problems out. Well, I am tired of the Bush approach which you, Edwards, seem to have adopted... all fight and no talk.

    January 4, 2008 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  5. S.K.M. Boston Mass

    Edwards better distance himself from those comments and swiftly fire that guy. Swiftly. Hrm why did that word just come to mind..

    January 4, 2008 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  6. nadeem

    I feel for Edwards. He pinned all his hopes on Iowa and now has nowhere to go. It is tough to end a campaign. I admire Biden and Dodd for knowing when to call it quits and did so gracefully.

    THe type of negative campaigning Edwards and Clinton will have to resort to does not become them. It will make the democratic party look bad.

    They are all good people, it is just Obamas time.

    The 90s were the right time for the Clinton. It is time for the next generation.

    January 4, 2008 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  7. Craig, Carlsbad CA

    WASHINGTON—“Powerful forces and powerful interests stand in your way,” the candidate said, “and the odds seem stacked against you—even as you do what’s right for you and your family.”

    He would fight these powers, and take on in particular “big tobacco, big oil, the big polluters, the pharmaceutical companies, the HMOs.” Sometimes, the candidate declared, “you have to be willing to stand up and say no—so families can have a better life.”

    John Edwards, 2008? No. Al Gore, 2000.

    And here is the source

    The only thing that changed from 2000 is that it has gotten worse and a more serious surgery is required.

    The entrenched economic interests have profited from a system of legalized briberty and good wishes are not going to cut this Gordian knot. Both Obama and Clinton are following Edwards agenda – he is moving the discussion. Exactly how is Obama going to talk the Health Industry into giving up its monopoly?

    January 4, 2008 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  8. Curtis Knapp

    Obama was against the war in Iraq. Obama has the charisma and intelligence to be a great President.
    Obama has not flip-fopped like Clinton and Edwards not even mentioning Romney & Giulliani

    Curtis Knapp
    Uppsala, Sweden

    January 4, 2008 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  9. Seth, Boston, MA.

    Obama's philosophy of bringing about change by working together with all parties involved to try and accomplish what both Hillary and Edwards have failed to do because they are too egocentric and negative. One thinks that they can force the opposition to do as they wish, the other tries to cut deals that leave out the ones they say they are trying to help... but after 14 years, and no successful healthcare plan... how can anyone trust Hillary on healthcare? She was put in charge of that in 1993!

    Anger, frustration and finger pointing has been the status quo in politics over the last few decades. We need accountability, accessibility and compromise for the greater good. Anything else is just empty rhetoric on the campaign trail that won't come true once they get that power. Only Obama's record has held up to the scrutiny. Oh yes, you can spin it if you like to be "selling out" instead of at least getting something done when people needed it. And where did Obama benefit from this in his pockets? He has the lowest net worth of any of those three by a LOT! So where did he sell out?! He wrote a book, got a 1.9 million advance for the next one. That's his fortune thus far... so where is this sell out money you are suggesting he has Edwards?

    Skewing the facts does not fool those that can read the truth on the Illinois government sites. Taken out of context, just about anything can sound bad.

    January 4, 2008 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  10. Richard - San Diego, CA

    I really don't like the negative exchanges between Obama and Edwards, or their more rabid supporters. Most of the people I know who are in either camp like the other candidate as well. They have much in common with their presidential runs and stances on the issues. They are both viable progressive alternatives to the DLC corporate Democratic establishment types like Hillary and co. Ideally, I would have liked to see an Edwards/Obama ticket--I don't think the Republicans could beat that, and I think they would actually pair well together in working for a common vision of the changes they would like to see. I think Edwards would be the stronger contender in the general election, but i he does not do well in South Carolina or Nevada, I hope Edwards will drop out and endorse Obama. The main point is to stop Hillary and get a new face in the White House that is committed to getting us out of Iraq, and not triangulating on the issue. Stop the bitterness! Obama and Edwards supporters look at the big picture and unite!

    January 4, 2008 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  11. Joe Ossai, Bedford, NH

    Come Edward please cut the crap. Obama can not be stopped. He unites people, black, white, chinese ....etc

    January 4, 2008 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  12. Patrick

    Edwards wants to keep fighting corporate America. Does he realize that most Americans are employed by these companies? What he is doing is dangerous: pitting working Americans against their employers. Unless he has enough room in the federal government to employ those who will be laid off by private companies due to his future draconian policies.

    At least Obama understands that most private companies are owned by decent, honest, hard working, patriotic Americans with families, who also want to help make this a better country; and that it will make better sense to work with them.

    January 4, 2008 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  13. AJ, IL

    Wow! I thought Hillary would go negative, but I guess since Edwards has nothing to lose his campaign is going after the front-runner. AHHHH! Say it again with me, Obama the front-runner...AHHHH!

    January 4, 2008 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  14. hot, GA

    And now the show begins

    January 4, 2008 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  15. Kristy

    Corporate lobbyist should not be allowed to give money to any Presidential Candidate or politician for that matter! Yes a sellout is a sellout, brokering a deal that will just sit there most of the time. So if nothing ever gets passed the legislation the politician takes credit for something (see I tried) knowing it would never make it and satisfying the corporate lobbyist or special interest group!

    John Edwards stands for integrity and values that this country is demanding!!!

    Kris-From the SHOW-ME-State

    January 4, 2008 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  16. Frank P., Oakland, CA

    Edwards was a decent candidate for Vice-President, but he doesn't have the balls to represent America on every level! He should work on his speeches and improve his record by voting for something that makes a difference, a POSITIVE difference! Stop wasting your energy on negativity, it just shows 'Mericans you're actually not that smart, and the "corporate sellout" phenonmenon is not new, nor i s it always bad. Do we have to engage others to get what we want? Is it necessary to make some concessions? Isn't open dialogue the name of the game when it comes to representing millions of people in the world's largtest market? Somebody send a memo to the Edwards campaign and get that "politician" off the television and into the REAL arena! send him to Illinois and see what kind of "deal" he can get for healthcare. In fact, what has he done for North Carolina children in need? You're very uninteresting Mr. Edwards!

    January 4, 2008 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  17. sandra, corona, ca

    This from an ambulance chaser!!!

    January 4, 2008 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  18. Nando, Florida

    You did such a Good Job For the people of North Carolina, That they voted you out? were you fighting for them then JOHN?

    You cost Kerry the election when DICK CHENEY Mopped the floor with you in the Vice-presidentail Debates!!!!!!!!!

    January 4, 2008 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  19. SMV

    From his radical stance on abortion to his prominence in the corruption scandals that has been virtually ignored by the mainstream media, Barack Obama is not fit to be Senator - not to mention the next President of the United States.

    Obama has declared his presidential intentions, but it is up to well-informed and energetic conservatives like you to spare our nation from the scourge of a far-left President Barack H. Obama

    January 4, 2008 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  20. AJ, IL

    Let me direct this comment to mostly the Edwards supporters. It is not too late to join the Obama campaign. Edwards is heading down the "dark path". With an angry waning message on 'Corporate Greed', Edwards knows that he is out of organization resources and money once the Nevada primary is over and he has no hope of being a VP candidate of Obama or Hillary.

    I agree with a previous blogger. Edwards has recently been sounding like he is running for Attorney General of NC vs US President. I urge my fellow Americans don't support Edwards because once you go negative it is hard to stay positive!

    January 4, 2008 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  21. anto

    Please dont belive Obama. He is not telling the truth on the health care insurance. I live in Illinois and paid hundreds of dollars everytime I take my kids to hospital.
    Even for small dose of tyelnol, the hospitals charge exorbitantly and the insurance decline to cover anything. I am not eligible to vote in this country, but I follow the elections everyday. Please select some else(or dont vote at all) but not obama. Because I know he lied on healthcare.

    January 4, 2008 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  22. S.K.M. Boston Mass

    I'm also a Seth!
    I'm also a Bostonian!
    I'm also an Obama fan!
    Holy f(#^!

    Go Obama

    January 4, 2008 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  23. Ike Woodbridge VA

    Barack Hussein Obama will not win the general election even if he is nominated. Any way, he will not be nominated because by Feb. 5 a clear nominee wil emerge . Obama is a one hit wonder, and he won Iowa because Republicans and independents could vote with the Democrats. In all other places where only Democrats can vote, Barack Hussein Obama will not even come in third. Republicans want to run against Barack Hussein Obama because they know he will be the easiest to beat. Think people, think. Republicans want Barack Hussein Obama to win. Simply put, Iowa was Hijacked by Republicans and Independents for Barack Hussein Obama. The only other state he will win, will be his home state Illinois, and he will lose the rest.

    January 4, 2008 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  24. Bill Dmuchowski

    Edwards makes me sick to my stomach. This guy is an ambulance chaser, who made millions suing the medical establishment. He drove many professionals out of the business and is partially yo blame for escalating costs. Now he's throwing stones at Barack. He would not make a peep if he were the one getting all the money and contributuions!!! he's the most vapid, biggest empty suit I've ever seen.

    I'm a republican, but I'd vote for Barack over any other democrat and half of the republicans, including Huckabee and Romney.

    January 4, 2008 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  25. Cameron,

    1st of all congratulation Mr. Obama for your win last night in Iowa. you won it fair and square good job!
    And Mr. Edwards is right also. Now it is about time to look beyond the inspirational speeches and hold Barack Hussein Obama to the real test and standards as the other candidates. While you ride the wave under Oprah's skirt and the media support, we the real citizen's now need to know the full story before making our choices.

    Who is Tony Rezko? and why are all the records of the meetings with lobbyists wiped out?

    January 4, 2008 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
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