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. denny

    people want change …..In current polling, most Americans have a very low opinion of the Senate…of which Obama is part of…… much lower than their view of the President.

    If people want real change, they will have to focus on a Governor to give it to them. America has NO faith in their Congressional members like Obama.

    January 4, 2008 11:54 pm at 11:54 pm |
  2. Wayne Roberts

    President Obama! After he takes New Hamshire, it's all over. He will get at least 90% of the black vote nationwide. Yeah baby!!!!! GObama!!!

    January 4, 2008 11:59 pm at 11:59 pm |
  3. OldOne

    I do hate the dirt in the campaign...
    BUT, we need to know what these people did in the situations they ask us to use as their experience. Someone has to point it out, and if it is another candidate, so be it. Is it all talk? On all sides?
    Let's go ahead and "Shake out the rug"...
    Then see who we really think could do the job.
    We are "on trial" throughout the world now, our money is losing value... We might just need a good trial lawyer to fix our standing in the world, And we definately would want the best!

    January 5, 2008 12:02 am at 12:02 am |
  4. Nick Wilson, Richardson, TX

    A.) So unions aren't considered "special interests," John Edwards? You've been wooing them ever so strongly. Obama has in this election gone after the support of people, not organizations and lobbyist groups. Unlike you.

    B.) Yes, corporations are worthy of criticism, but they still play an important part in society and employ most of the population. Therefore, one can't shut them out of the debates anymore than unions should be shut out of the debates. There's a big difference between going for consensus among all sectors of society and catering to special interests. Obama has clearly done the former, and you the latter.

    C.) If you win this fight against corporations, how can you be sure you won't hurt workers and the poor? Unions have priced themselves out of the labor market. Job cutting, outsourcing and inflation will result from your minimum wage hike, and will hurt the lowest class the most. Government welfare made the poor poorer and lazier. Universal healthcare has been an absolute disaster in most of the countries that have implemented it. Obama has the most reasonable plan of the Democrats – use the market where possible and use government where the market fails. That's the only way health care costs will go down. Naturally there are market failures because of the nature of healthcare where doing a bad job can make you even more money. But nationwide healthcare will just reduce quality and quantity of care, leaving many unable to get into hospitals, like in Sweden or Britain.

    You should buy $300 worth of basic economics textbooks in lieu of that next haircut, Edwards.

    January 5, 2008 12:10 am at 12:10 am |
  5. Sharell L. Grant

    Tell me something...how EXACTLY to you gain "experience" being the President of the United States, unless you've actually BEEN the president of the United States? I mean, I don't care how long you're a senator or even if you're the President's wife. It's not the same as actually BEING the president! Oh sure, you may have travled more and had your opinion heard more, but the person who makes the FINAL decision is THE PRESIDENT...and last I checked, NONE of these people have ever been president. I could read up a lot on foreign policy too. In fact, I can go and get a doctorate on foreign policy...that doesn't automatically make me qualified to be the President, and the same holds true for all of these canidates. I think people are throwing around this "experience" rhetoric a little too much.

    January 5, 2008 12:20 am at 12:20 am |
  6. Nick Wilson, Richardson, TX

    By the way, Obama is the ONLY Democrat I hear a large number of Republicans say they could "stomach." I definitely don't hear the same things about Hillary or Edwards. Anybody who thinks Obama is unelectable must be joking. He beats all the Republicans in a head to head matchup. The Republicans have six candidates who each play to different wings only and don' t please or motivate the rest of the Republican cliques – Huck (Christian conservative), McCain (militarist reformer), Giuliani (war hawk social liberal), Paul (libertarian), Romney (Wall Street/corporate conservatives) and Thompson (economic conservatives). The Republicans are in bad shape whoever they pick.

    Hillary or Edwards would unite the Republicans around their candidate just for the sake of being against the Democrat, but I see Obama as leading a lot to splinter off and vote Democrat. His message of unity is different from Edwards' message of division or Hillary's message of , um, herself. Sure, it's weak-kneed and fluffy, but I think that makes him electable.

    Look at pop music. Most people like it if it has a pretty surface, regardless of depth. Obama does have depth and consistency, I believe, but even if he didn't, I still think he'd be the most electable candidate on either side of the aisle because he's got the most centrist appeal and appeal to even the apolitical.

    (I support Paul, by the way. But Obama would be second choice.)

    January 5, 2008 12:42 am at 12:42 am |
  7. zen zabala

    NOBAMA PLEASE! That guy is like a car salesman, yeah, everything will be rosy when I am elected for President. How can you make a change if you don't have experience and what change do you have in mind and how are you going to implement it? You can fool these young kids but not me. I've seen enough of phoney politicians like you. I'd rather respect a beggar than a dirty politician.
    Oprah should stick to her TV job. Her endorsement for Obama WILL NOT PERSUADE ME.

    GO HILARY! You'll be a good president.

    January 5, 2008 01:44 am at 1:44 am |
  8. CS

    Good grief, you people are so gullible. This is what's wrong with America – we won't vote for the people who tell us the truth, and then act surprised to discover we've been lied to again by the guys who told us exactly what we wanted to hear. Folks, Edwards is right. The corporations control everything. Wake up and smell the coffee. Our friend Obama, nice fellow though he is, is no boat rocker. This guy is status quo, all the way. Behind that wonderful fresh look, and that sparkling speech-making, is a guy who wants to leave everything basically as it is. He's not going to fix health care. Read his health care plan on his website; look at all his campaign cash – he's been bought by industry. He's not going to fix Iraq. He wants to have some long, drawn out "reduction" in combat troops. He says he wants to "sit down" and negotiate with the companies that run our country. We need somebody who is going to fight against the corporate greed that is ruining our lives. Our country is in trouble. We need real, actual change. Wake up!

    January 5, 2008 02:11 am at 2:11 am |
  9. K. Pack

    Edwards, how 'bout some cheese with that "whine"? Be a professional and simply own up to the fact that you were simply bested by the better candidate.

    An American president will not totally succeed in everything, but he/she must be able to implement the best possible solution in times of adversity to keep our country on course.

    The way you manage defeat now, is a great indication of how you would probably manage it in the White House; and a candidate with tons of excuses and NO resolutions, is not someone I would trust to lead our country, and most importantly, command our Armed Forces. In times of defeat, remain poised, remain effective, hoo-yah?

    January 5, 2008 04:54 am at 4:54 am |
  10. Concerned, Los Angeles, CA

    Obama is a joke. Empty suit. I do consider myself an intellectual Democrat, and nominating Barack Hussein Obama would be disastrous to Dems in a general election. And ask yourself this about Obama: What was Obama doing in his state senate office while his constituents suffered due to now indicted slumlord Antoin “Tony” Rezko, Obama’s friend of 17 years? Well, Obama was busy writing letters to get even more government money for his friends, including Rezko.

    January 5, 2008 05:06 am at 5:06 am |
  11. Mike j

    I'm surprised John Edwards is going negative and attacking Obama. Edwards has received a large amount of money from trial lawyers, plus he voted to authorize the Iraq War, the Patriot Act, and only apologized for his vote on the Iraq War prior to running for President again.

    People want change. They do not want one "progressive" democrat attacking another after losing by 8 points in the Iowa Caucus.

    John should run on his merits, and not have his camp pull Clinton-esque attacks.

    I am actually getting a little irritated with Edwards the past few days. Most of all, I was surprised that he didn't congratulate Barack Obama in his Iowa concession speech. Hello?

    January 5, 2008 05:16 am at 5:16 am |
  12. Tim, Minnesota

    Weird, i thought Obama would thank Kucinich.. I believe that what happened. kucinich's people backed barack, He won't have that in NH

    January 5, 2008 05:17 am at 5:17 am |
  13. RedSea Foreign National

    I think Obama is a typical politician that is all talk. ANd I always like to support what I say with something to reference. This is from the front page and highlighted feature of Obama's senate website.

    Washington, DC – Today, Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) and Representative Adam Schiff (D-CA) announced that a provision authored by Obama and Senator Hagel (R-NE) in the Senate and advanced by Schiff in the House requiring a comprehensive nuclear threat reduction plan passed as part of the omnibus appropriations bill. This provision requires the President to submit to Congress a comprehensive plan for ensuring that all nuclear weapons and weapons-usable material at vulnerable sites around the world are secure by 2012 from the threats that terrorists have shown they can pose. The Senate passed the omnibus appropriations bill last night and the House approved the same bill today. It will now be sent to the President to be signed into law.

    Sounds like Obama is behind a law to REQUIRE the president to interfere around the world, which is a change we don't need.

    January 5, 2008 05:22 am at 5:22 am |
  14. Jose F.

    Go Barack Hussein Obama! Do it Barack Obama.

    January 5, 2008 06:05 am at 6:05 am |
  15. Lisa Lee Erikson

    Senator Obama is truly the hope of our nation...extremely well educated and well informed about the complete American society. Hope truly is the major component of our country's need to right the wrongs done to us all in the name of progress. I do not trust Ms Clinton or Mr Edwards but I embrace the honesty of Senator Obama and his innate ability to actually work with the powers that really control this great county. When I listen to him, I feel that he truly is the man that will inspire us to greatness once again. We the people...only Senator Obama knows what our forefathers meant in their wisdom to make America strong forever!

    January 5, 2008 06:17 am at 6:17 am |
  16. RedSea Foreign National

    To Ted, I went to Obama's website, the one you suggested, and I could not find any clear talk with details in any of his speeches. Can you give me link to a specific page on this site where you read any specific details he provides?


    January 5, 2008 08:49 am at 8:49 am |
  17. J.Mason

    Its politics plain and simple.... I guess it would have been better if he stood starkly against the lobbyist and head butted with them for years to come. Hmm.. Legisligation going nowhere... Dude wake up.... If you haven't learned by now that sometimes you're going to have to give some to get some. Its the nature of the beast. Its the definition of politics. In the long run, the legislation has helped more than it has harmed. THATS A WIN TO ME! And this just shows that even with his "lack of experience" he can do what it takes to get the job done!

    OBAMA IN 08 AND 2012...... Keep this going!

    January 5, 2008 08:49 am at 8:49 am |
  18. Deborah

    I am so glad the gloves are coming off! Aside from lofty speeches which anyone could write for him, I'm sure Obama has undergone ANY scrutiny of his qualifications and record. At least Edwards has been under scrutiny for most of his political career and withstood the strong light of reporters's questions. Obama has enjoyed an unprecedented period of "grace" from such scrutiny. It's time voters take a good hard look lest we wind up with yet another president who hasn't got a clue what he's doing. Remember Katrina anyone?

    January 5, 2008 08:54 am at 8:54 am |
  19. Deborah

    I am so glad the gloves are coming off! Aside from lofty speeches which anyone could write for him, I'm not sure Obama has undergone ANY scrutiny of his qualifications and record. At least Edwards has been under scrutiny for most of his political career and withstood the strong light of reporters' questions. Obama has enjoyed an unprecedented period of "grace" from such scrutiny. It's time voters take a good hard look lest we wind up with yet another president who is affable but hasn't got a clue what he's doing. Remember Katrina anyone?

    January 5, 2008 08:55 am at 8:55 am |

    Before endorsing a candidate try to look at their records, acheivement and experience, not what their writters and campaign managers tell them to say, so let us start:: 1- Obama, does he have any??? I do not think so
    2- hillary, any record? no, other than being first lady for 8 years which means nothing.
    3- Edwards: again none
    Then you have the most qualified candidates drop out of the race because of lack of support , media coverage, etc.....
    It is ok for us to need change , fresh start,ETC...I believe this exactly what we wanted 8 years ago, and then what did we get GEORGE W BUSh.

    January 5, 2008 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  21. manny_thome

    I know many don't want to hear comments like this, and I'm excited about Obama too. But Edwards is speaking the truth. On two issues of central importance to Dems - health care and the environment - Obama has shown he is beholden or at least sensitive (too sensitive in my opinion) to corporate interests. Edwards highlighted the health care legislation Obama pushed. Worse in my mind (and one I'm having a hard time getting over before I pledge to vote for Obama) is his authoring of legislation that would give federal money for coal-to-liquid plants and that would open up federaql lands to coal mining. These policies are just WRONG for the environment. Obama is a smart guy though, and I understand as a Senator that he needs to sometimes act in his state's interest (there's a lot of coal in Illinois). I just hope he sees the light and denounces these previous proposals.

    January 5, 2008 09:22 am at 9:22 am |
  22. vee

    I like John Edwards but it's a pity dashed expectattions cut in deep like a hot knife on butter. I don't blame his campaign for the frustration and disappointment. Sometimes, you can't help it but gasp out you know.

    January 5, 2008 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  23. Lisa Salt Lake City UT

    It is hard to believe that Edwards is the champion for the little guy when he lives in a 28,000 square foot house. How normal is that?

    Obama is the closest to normal among us.

    January 5, 2008 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  24. Scott

    It is good to see variety of supporters here. But what we the American really need is person who is with experience and willing to change. Obama does not have the enough experience in office and he would really drown in washington if he win the President. He would not be able to deal with many issues and budget that we need to bring out of bad debit that Bush has created a lot since his 8 yrs tenure. I know that no people from Republican side are good for the office.

    Many of you said that Obama is good for us but do you guys really think he can deal with all of pressure and issues that would dump on his laps once he become president?? That is one thing we need to think careful. I not sure if Obama is ready for office and wonder if he would cause more mess becuase of unexperience?? We do not need more of the mess and we need experience one to bring us out of messy in some way. Obama may be ready for office in 8 yrs then he would be a good candicate for president.

    January 5, 2008 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  25. Kristine Meier

    I am from New Hampshire...I have followed the Obama, Edwards and Hillary campaigns as they have evolved for almost a year now and amazingly Obama's use of "CHANGE", "HOPE" and even the language in his healthcare plan have been copied from John Edwards. John Edward's language, stand, strength and convictions have remained consistent. He is who he is and he believes and stands by what he says.

    Now for Hillary, I have watched her change who she is over and over to yeild to the crowd or flavor of the day. Not an appealing characteristic nor is it one that makes me— a studied voter— feel confident that she won't do the same when appealing to the lobyists, corporate interests, or even foreign leaders. Scary stuff!

    January 5, 2008 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
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