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. Independent in IA

    The man is a lawyer, for pete's sake!!! He knows ALL about cutting deals. He doesn't care if the client (in this case, us) gets a fair shake...only that he gets his cut of the pie.

    January 4, 2008 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  2. sandra, corona, ca

    CE, Wisconsin....

    I applaud what you wrote. It was to the point and spot on. Congratulations and thanks for the lesson in recent history.

    January 4, 2008 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  3. John Luma

    Interesting that Edwards' spokesperson is saying this now, and not Edwards himself. So maybe this is what the candidate believes in his heart - or maybe it's his handlers seeking more spin.

    The key point is the concept discussed - how best does our government structure greater social success, by either integrating corporate interests or not?

    Based on John Edwards' loudest campaign message, all corporations are evil, to be ignored and controlled by Government. Well, that's exactly the point of view of our "experienced" Democrat Hillary did when Bill assigned her to create a viable system of universal Healthcare for all Americans back in 1993. She excluded all corporate input, all Congressional input, and sought no input from those who had to pay for it. She was too smart for that, she thought, to allow evil corporate interests to pollute the common good.

    So much for Hillary and Bill being an agent of change - while leaving out the voice and impact of corporations, and the millions they represent.

    Yet inclusion is supposed to be a major concepts of the Democratic party. But as history demonstrates, blindly excluding the corporate world only leads to failure and misrepresentation of this legitimate and major foundation of our society. So the partisan battle goes on, year after year, because the spirit of our Pledge of Allegiance is not followed - "with liberty and justice FOR ALL."

    January 4, 2008 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  4. Jerry, Houston

    John Edwards is a pathetic patronizer.

    Hillary Clinton is an arrogant wannabe.

    Barack Obama is no more than a self-styled hipster vying for validation.

    He has done nothing as a US Senator short of campaigning for President.

    His no vote on the war was a tactical first step toward this run.

    He is dangerously naive and inexperienced to even be considered as a viable candidate for the country's highest office.

    This election should not be reduced to a popularity contest (Oprah). This is a very serious matter.

    Change? There are thousands of alternative directions to consider for this country to take, all of which would be change. But do we need change for the sake of change, or do we need a direction only a proven leader can effect?

    Is there not anyone worthy to represent the Democratic Party?

    The sea change in Congress has been a disaster – producing absolutely nothing.

    The Republicans have not had the answers either. Hold on to your hats America, the gale force blowhard winds have just begun to soar through the air.

    January 4, 2008 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  5. AJ, IL

    Anto...you are not able to vote? Then you must not be an American citizen!

    January 4, 2008 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  6. Ratatosk

    They are all sellouts. You're deluding yourself if you think otherwise.

    January 4, 2008 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  7. Travis Johnson

    go get 'em john and as for obama, you are a phony since when have the republicans asked for us to join them at the "american table" as you wish to do for them ? for 7 years they have ignored us and the same people from the otherside you want and need to back you, calling it working with both sides of the isle, here's a phrase you better get used to, your a phony, a clown and most of all a sell out. you have stolen edwards platform from '04 and have called it your own. here's to HOPING you fail in NH and if you do win I have no problem sitting this election out. Go get 'em Edwards !

    January 4, 2008 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  8. Seth, Boston, MA.

    I have to agree with Richard in San Diego. Aside from my negative tone towards Edwards I think of him as a good alternative to Obama. Their stances are against the status quo, only I agree more with Obama's, obviously. We do need to unite, and I don't think Obama is the one that is making the attacks. Questioning someone on their voting record is fine, but to add that extra little bit (sell-out), that is the step that Obama is not making. I have yet to hear any character attacks from the Obama camp. And I have been paying (very very very) close attention to the front runners on both sides, using multiple sources, that I must say do not generally agree with each other.

    Obama is not perfect, but for a politician... come on. Be realistic first, a little optimistic second.

    I have noticed some very bizarre blogs on the Obama site, and I try to settle those down a bit by urging for them to be a bit more humbled ( at least until the man is in the white house, if that ever happens). It bothers me too that some people behave that way, but if you are an honest supporter of any candidate, you know there are people like that on all sides.

    January 4, 2008 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  9. Leo, Mesa Arizona

    Obama is an inspiration for our country. Do your best research before voting for anyone else. This man is special. GO OBAMA!!!

    January 4, 2008 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  10. Jim, Irmo, SC

    What? "Sellout"? That's what would-be hipsters say about bands that have sold too many records, when they used to be so "underground". "Sellout"? You want to talk about meaningless rhetoric, that's a good term to use as an example.

    January 4, 2008 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  11. F.D. Bonitto Fairfax, Virginia

    The Edwards campaign is grasping at straws and is looking foolish in picking the health legislation issue in Illinois to knock Obama with. Let's face it, compromise is what good politics is all about. It isn't always that way, but Obama accomplished it with finesse, intelligence and integrity. This approach to politics is representative of the changes that Obama is about.

    January 4, 2008 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  12. Charles

    Obama won because he paid for buses that brought college students in for the election. Probably told them there was a keg party afterwards.

    January 4, 2008 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  13. AJ, IL

    I hope the Obama campaign stays focus and positive. Sending out an email response simply pointing out the facts of Obama's achievement of getting over 150,000 Illinois children is commendable.

    Edwards is sore loser who knows that his presidential run is almost up.

    Edwards has neither the organization nor funding to continue campaigning past Nevada. The best case scenario for Edwards in the following primiaries is:

    NEW HAMPSHIRE – finishes a distant 3rd to Obama and Hillary.
    NEVADA – finishes dead last behind Richardson
    SOUTH CAROLINA – finishes 3rd behind Obama and Hillary or drops-out!

    John, stop wasting precious time campaigning. Spend time with your wife (who has an incurable form of cancer) and your kids (7 to 25 years of age), and continue your private endeavors to help the poor.

    January 4, 2008 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  14. Michael Toussaint

    Oh enough already with the corporate greed and corporate scandals. This is a CAPITALIST SOCIETY! Last time I checked, corporates were in business to make money which in turn pays people's salaries, which in turn drives the economy which in turn makes the USA the greatest and wealthiest country on this planet. AND, it sounds silly coming from a millionaire.

    Every corporation is not a evil monopoly hell-bent on making their money on the backs of underpaid migrant laborers, cigarettes and oil, so please give it a rest.

    We've heard your corporate bad guy speech and we've heard your "Mills of North Carolina" speech., fair enough, but: Please, please tell me you have something else to say.

    Mike Toussaint

    January 4, 2008 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  15. steve

    John Edwards should tone down his mesage, he will soon face Obama in his backyard and then it will be over and if he has a fraction of self worth left in that smile he will congratulate Obama and support him.
    I shouldn't comment on what others have written in this opinion page, opinions are not something of truth, however all truths will be self evident.

    January 4, 2008 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  16. Kristy Show Me State

    I do beleive you are confusing PASSION for anger.

    My family needs a President with PASSION from his soul!


    January 4, 2008 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  17. William Z. Ft. Lauderdale, FL

    The Republican Political Machine is gonna tear Obama apart!
    Why do Democrats shoot themselves in the foot, time & time, again by voting for Feel- Good Politicians who'll tell you what ever you want to hear BUT have little to no substance?
    If Obama wins, Get ready for another 4 years w a Republican in the White House.
    At least Kerry was a war hero & a Senator of many years.. & look what they did to him! ONLY Hillary has a shot of taking on the Republican nominee.
    Iowa proves, once again, it's a mistake to ever underestimate the emotional stupidity of the American voter!

    January 4, 2008 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  18. Andy, New York, New York

    I'm black, Republican and find Obama to be an interesting candidate so far. But John Edwards should be the last person to be talking about Obama this way, because he made his millions as a lawyer who took advantage of a litigious society gone wild.

    When he talks about ending corporate greed in America, he has to always remember he is the epitome of that greed. Can he who is a part of the problem become part of the solution?

    January 4, 2008 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  19. Chris

    I am a realist, Obama and Hillary are unelectable. If either gets in office the republican's win hands down. Our only change is Edwards.

    Cleveland, OH

    January 4, 2008 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  20. tristan, fl

    Obama represents NO change whatsoever. What change? Until you CONCISELY declare the truth, that corporate America – private equity, venture capital, trust fund, hedge fund, offshoring, Swiss banking, hard lobbying America – is the root of all of our problems, then you, sir, can not solve Ameria's problems. Edwards is the ONLY real deal. The rest are just Democrats in name only. Practically a bunch of Republicans. There is ZERO NEED to "bring the country together". The Republicans have no chance no matter who the candidates wind up being. It' time for some real payback for the American people. Billionaires need to START paying some taxes. If you base your vote on anything else, I have a bridge to sell you in Brooklyn.

    January 4, 2008 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  21. Sage

    Obama wasn't in office when the vote on the war happened. To say that " I would have voted no " takes it out of the realm of honest discussion. The fact that he has no real voting record means that you don't know WHAT he would have done. So, when you vote for him you are voting for what you believe to be his personality...not his work record. When was the last job you got because of your hair cut?

    I'm not saying don't vote for him ... but stop being naive about this thing. It's a popularity contest. Plain and simple.

    If you don't think there is some stink on all of them.....Repub and Dem .... you are an uninformed child.

    That being said, my prediction is the nomination goes to Edwards. Gotta win the South to get into the WH .... like it or not. It will be very much down to the wire. Three way horse race. Hillary will be extra strong in the Northeast, Obama strong in midwest, and Edwards strong in the South.

    South wins it for Edwards.

    January 4, 2008 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  22. Vince Los Angeles, CA

    Biggdawg January 4, 2008 3:52 pm ET

    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.

    Ummm Biggdawg...I read the history on the Health Care Justice Act that Obama got passed....the "study" was a PART of it...the idea was to make it state policy to provide universal health care..what ulitmately passed was a state GOAL to provide same....in doing so, Obama successfully dealt with COMPETEING interests to get this passed...That's a HECK of a lot more than Hillary can say she has done with all her "experience" getting universal health care passed...the reality is this....UNIVERSAL HEALTH CARE WILL NOT GET PASSED IN THIS COUNTRY BY DEMANDING IT....So how do you get to the end zone when there are an equal number of people on both sides of the issue?? Obama has been successful in the past getting this done....

    GoBama Go!!

    January 4, 2008 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  23. Les


    These three lobbyists, are lobbying for over a dozen corporations that includes Walmart, Lockheed-martin and British Petroleum.


    January 4, 2008 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  24. Myron Burnswick, ME

    I am with Chris, The only chance for a Dem. in office is Edwards. Obama has no experience and has cocaine issues that will hurt him in a presidential election. And Hillary... well lets not get that started.

    January 4, 2008 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  25. Jose F.

    I am hopefull reading all of the comments on this thread thus far, and in the main I am proud of you USAers-"Philadelphians". This land is my land, this land is your land, sometimes? Boy the joy when that really means something, when it is demonstrated. The fire, the light that beems, the butterflies. the goosebubs, the emotional roller coaster ride.

    I'm in an excellent mood because our contemporaries are a 'hung jury'! For the most part people are basically good.

    That whole Thurrow (or is it Russow, spelling?), are people inherently 'upstanding or downcast', it's basically settled for me evidenced by my previous statement.

    We are big infants, grown babies, our inner child is there somewhere. Yes there are incourigible entities we must account for, but "united we stand and divided we fall" another great man once said.

    Good people, honorable people, my fellows we people of integrity let's do this to the best of our individual and collective abilities!

    January 4, 2008 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
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