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. Jose F.

    Friend -

    Here's the video and full text of Barack's speech from Iowa last night. Thank you for making this historic victory possible:


    Barack's already in New Hampshire, where there's a debate tomorrow night and the voting happens on Tuesday.

    Please take a moment to watch the speech and share it with someone you know. Now's the time to get everyone involved:


    Thank you,


    --- Original Message ---
    From: Barack Obama
    Subject: Turn on your television

    Friend -

    We just won Iowa, and I'm about to head down to talk to everyone.

    Democrats turned out in record numbers tonight, and independents and even some Republicans joined our party to stand together for change.

    Thank you for everything you've done to make this possible.


    January 4, 2008 09:34 pm at 9:34 pm |
  2. framecop

    K Street Endorsements

    Hillary Rodham Clinton (55)

    Barack Obama (16)

    John Edwards (NONE)


    As far as hedge funds go, Clinton and Obama have both received 4 times (almost $1,000,000) as much money from hedge funds as Edwards. They also received money from Fortress Investment Group (the one Edwards worked at), which also gave money to Chris Dodd and the DSCC.

    End of discussion.

    The media knew that Clinton and Obama have received money from Fortress Investment Group, yet they never BLAMED THEM for any foreclosures, or at the very least asked Clinton and Obama why they didn't give Fortress it's money back.

    Such hypocrites.

    January 4, 2008 09:49 pm at 9:49 pm |
  3. Trang, Fremont, CA

    Obama is probably our best chance against extremism. What is extremism? It's a battle of ideas, of hearts, or minds – what's more attractive. Either we attract the young, give them hope, get them engaged, producing productive member of societies, or take the risk of them getting attracted to extremism because nobody care. He fight cynicism now. Next, he fights extremism – and he fights it the intelligent way. If we fight the military way, we not only lost lives, we are just going to bankrupt ourselves. That money can be better used elsewhere.

    January 4, 2008 09:50 pm at 9:50 pm |
  4. framecop

    Has CNN reported anything on how the Obama campaign sent flyers around SMEARING John Edwards in Iowa?

    Of course they haven't because Obama defecates golden pellets, and walks on water.

    January 4, 2008 09:51 pm at 9:51 pm |
  5. R. Fraer

    Did anyone ever give any thought to why Obama voted against going to war in Iraq and against Muslim's and possibly religious connections???

    January 4, 2008 09:51 pm at 9:51 pm |
  6. framecop

    As much as I despise the Republican Party, if Obama is nominated, I'm going to enjoy laughing in his supporters faces as he loses by over 20% to Mike Huckabee.

    January 4, 2008 09:54 pm at 9:54 pm |
  7. framecop

    I'm so sick of all of this lying! Walt from Texas said this:

    Walt, Belton, TX January 4, 2008 4:04 pm ET
    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?

    Most of Edwards' contributions comes from SMALL DONORS. Edwards hasn't raised as much money as Clinton and Obama, mainly because he doesn't get the corporate money that they get. Obama's supporters are the worst elements on earth. They just pull lies out of their back pockets.

    Most of Barack Obama's support comes from big money donors, Wall Street, and big businesses.


    January 4, 2008 09:58 pm at 9:58 pm |
  8. framecop

    Obama "unites" people? Reminds me of when wildebeests run UNITED over a cliff to their deaths or into the crocodile pits, just because the ones in front of them are running.

    You ask half Obama supporters to tell you what he would do about ANYTHING, and they don't have the slightest clue. Doesn't matter, he doesn't have any chance whatsoever of winning a General Election, and every Republicans candidate and strategist in the United States knows it.

    January 4, 2008 10:04 pm at 10:04 pm |
  9. Jason

    Tired of hearing candidates complain about others being a 'corporate' sellout. You can also sell out to unions, environmental support groups, and other special interests and be just as controlled and dishonest because of it. Corporations are not all evil, and as a party if we continue to portray them as such it will seriously damage our chances with moderate independent voters come general election time.

    January 4, 2008 10:07 pm at 10:07 pm |
  10. Micahel Guinn, Ventura, CA

    Some amazing comments on here! My favorite this evening is Ike W from Va. Can you say MORON?

    You really need to understand the Constitution, or learn to read it.

    You did spell Barack's middle name correctly, I give you that.

    People who write things as you did are the REASON why OBAMA WILL WIN! Your days are over! The politics of fear and hate are coming to an END! HOPE IS ON THE WAY!!! OBAMA 08!!!

    January 4, 2008 10:19 pm at 10:19 pm |

    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 10:31 pm at 10:31 pm |
  12. Rich Orl, FL

    It is more important to consider the type of funding taking place now in the presidential race. Donors to the Obama campaign have to agree to a disclaimer stating they are not affiliated with any lobbyist group or PAC organization. It speaks volumes to the type of honest campaign Obama is running.

    January 4, 2008 10:35 pm at 10:35 pm |
  13. Jimenez

    Obama got acting lessons from Oprah. Give us a friggin' break!

    "Watch Obama, most times when he give a passionate speech he maintains a serious expression throughout. People study these mannerisms and can tell who is phoney and who is not."

    He has been watching Bill Clinton tapes. Get real. This is making a real joke of us again internationally. God help us all if you think Obama is the one. And, I mean God help us all.

    January 4, 2008 10:40 pm at 10:40 pm |
  14. Hopeful in Houston

    I think all the candidates have valuable skills and different talents to offer: Obama is an intellectual and his speech was so inspirational, he acted like a true president should be. Edwards seems like a take-action, take-charge personality who will get things done while Hillary is a polished politician and a diplomat. I wish they all could be elected for a high-ranking office! I think we should be glad that such qualified and able people are willing to take on the mess that Bush has created–why should we resort to name-calling and negative opinions? After the past 7 years of hell, I think we should all stand behind the Democratic nominee, whoever he or she may be.

    January 4, 2008 10:41 pm at 10:41 pm |
  15. Kevin Topeka, KS


    Is there a valid reason NOT to mention his middle name? Afraid that it might remind folks of his Muslim heritage and conjure up some kind of association with another Hussein? What about his last name? I know of a certain individual that has a somehwat similar first name. Maybe we shouldn't call him by his first name either? The man is all about "change". Maybe he should change his name.

    January 4, 2008 10:50 pm at 10:50 pm |
  16. benintn

    Edwards, you claim to be a Baptist Christian. Put your money where your mouth is. Sell your possessions, give all you have to the poor, and then you will have treasure in heaven.

    Would you have been able to run for Senate, or President, if you didn't live in a $15million home in Chapel Hill, NC?

    And what about this war in Iraq you voted to support? Now that you have left the Senate, you've changed your mind? At the same time that the American people happened to change their minds?

    January 4, 2008 10:58 pm at 10:58 pm |
  17. Christian, Tampa FL

    At least Obama got it passed! Edwards would never create a healthcare plan by yelling and shooting off empty threats at the corporate types and lobbyists. Obama will pull together a broad political coalition through being "nice" and then get real things done for the American people.

    January 4, 2008 11:01 pm at 11:01 pm |
  18. Matt Weiss

    To those of you who think Obama isn't confrontational enough and use the failure of the Democratic congress to stifle Bush as proof, let me ask you what strategy you would have suggested. The House majority is pretty slim and the Senate majority even slimmer–far from filibuster-proof. Maybe the Democrats learned from Gingrich's mistakes in '94 and recognized that, when Congress gets into a pissing match with the President and shuts down the machineries of government in the process, Congress usually loses.

    The Democratic victory in 2006 was the first half, and the second half comes in 2008.

    As for those of you who believe the Republicans are desperate for an unelectable Obama to be nominated, you may be right. I say give 'em what they want. They're riding the tiger–this is way bigger than they think it is. Some people are saying "America isn't ready for a black president." What sort of sign or portent do you think will signal this readiness if it wasn't last night. Do you think the US electorate will fill our some form that says "ready now"? Waiting for it to be burned across the sky by comets?

    I'd be happy with Edwards and could work up considerable enthusiasm for Clinton–Democrats should not forget how awful the last eight years have been–but I'm for Obama. I think the disappointments and soul-crushing agonies of the last forty years have turned us into cynics about what our country can be. Obama is not a magician and he'll disappoint us plenty, I'm sure. What person wouldn't? But I, for one, am not going to let cynicism rob me of the deep faith that something different and remarkable can still happen in this experiment we call the United States.

    January 4, 2008 11:12 pm at 11:12 pm |
  19. Trang, Fremont, CA


    if you think of having Edward as a VP, which I don't think is a good choice, please have him go through some course of anger management or something.

    January 4, 2008 11:15 pm at 11:15 pm |
  20. GG, Frisco, Texas

    Obama is trying to bring this country together because our solider in Iraq and Afghanstan aren't just one color of nationalities it's all Americans who had died and struggling to understand that "Huessin" never attacked us???? So stop this and try to find the good in each other. I'm sick of this. ignorant only limits you.

    January 4, 2008 11:16 pm at 11:16 pm |
  21. Amanda

    Edwards is definitely too one-dimensional. There are greater problems in the world than corporate greed... if he keeps that speech up he's going to start sounding fanatical.

    Someone said that Obama needs to get "hit hard" by his opponents before he's elected so the public can see if he folds or not. I think the fact that there isn't much he can be "hit" with speaks volumes. Don't you think if he really had skeletons in his closet, Clinton and Edwards would have pulled them out by now and splashed them all over the place? They've all tried pulling the trivial tricks (ie: Hillary's desperate 'he had presidential ambitions in Kindergarten ploy). It simply hasn't worked.

    Obama just needs to stay true to what he's been saying from the start – which he undoubtedly will. He's the most honest politician around lately, it seems.

    January 4, 2008 11:35 pm at 11:35 pm |
  22. JC - The Big "D"

    Edwards made the majority of his money as a trial lawyer pretending to the be the saviour of the poor but in fact collecting millions in legal fees. GO AWAY, Dirty trial lawyers can never be trusted.

    January 4, 2008 11:35 pm at 11:35 pm |
  23. Tony

    I am curious? Is Obama a muslim?

    January 4, 2008 11:37 pm at 11:37 pm |
  24. zoom

    this is ridiculous. the reporter paraphrases a reasonable criticism ("he watered down the bill with the help of a corporate lobbyist") in to the spin "corporate sellout" and then uses that as the headline. and all you buffoons jump on it, as if Edwards said it.
    what won't you fall for?

    January 4, 2008 11:45 pm at 11:45 pm |
  25. Corwin

    I can't believe how many ppl are posting comments like "Doesn't he realize most of america is employed by these corporations?!?!?" as is that is supposed to absolve them of the fact that these "employed" americans make little enough to still qualify for medicaid and two working parents can't afford elementary school supplies let alone a college education for thier children. So for John Edwards who would probably be way to nice to reply to you ppl of limited intelligence, I will step in and answer...YES! WE ALL REALIZE MOST AMERICANS ARE WORKING FOR THESE COMPANIES. The fact that we are STILL not making enough to afford a doctor or a future while corporate managment gets MULTIMILLION DOLLAR "Golden parachutes" severance packages for being fired for incompetence is the problem. This is nothing new to america...anyone with even a small understanding of our history will remember the "robber barons" that once plagued our nation and the "carpet baggers" that came down south after the revolutionary war. What does amaze me is the GUTLESNESS and COWARDICE of so many americans these days to stand up to what has amounted a coup of the american government by multinational corporations. Where are the children of the factory workers that stood up to the "pinkerton men" of the last great depression? Have the seeds of courage that once allowed common men to tell the british empire "We will not stand for this any longer" and make good on the promise entirely been extinguished from our midst? Worst of all are these sniveling sycophants that beg and whine at our corporate masters knees in fear thier supply of table scraps will be withheld if they display the slightest precurser of a spine known as independant thought. God you ppl who are arrogant enough to bad mouth your betters disgust me. If your really that big a coward go hide while the rest of us fix the mess you ignore and fear not...when the fighting is over we will see to it that your table scrap existence continues. Though you will be required to stem the tide of blithering flattery that your current masters relish so. We shall have no need of your simpering flatulence.

    January 4, 2008 11:53 pm at 11:53 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8