December 28th, 2007
02:00 PM ET
15 years ago

Clinton who? Obama, Edwards direct fire at each other


In the final days before the Iowa caucuses, Obama and Edwards are turning up the heat on each other. (Photo credit: Getty Images)

WASHINGTON (CNN) - With less than a week before Iowa voters kick off the presidential primary season, Democrats Barack Obama and John Edwards - who had until recently directed most of their criticism towards Hillary Clinton - continued taking jabs at one another Friday, each trying to portray the other as an insufficient agent of change against Washington’s special interests.

Edwards' latest veiled shot at Obama is expected to come in an Iowa speech later Friday, when he will not-so-subtly challenge Obama for taking money from lobbyists in the past. (Obama has not taken any money from lobbyists for his presidential campaign, but has accepted money from them for past campaigns. Edwards maintains he has never accepted money from lobbyists or Political Action Committees.)

"Nobody who takes their money and defends the broken system is going to bring change," Edwards will say, according to prepared remarks. "And, unfortunately, nobody who thinks we can just sit down and talk them into compromise is going to bring change either."

Obama often says he has ability to bring people together and forge compromises.

The comment follows a more pointed one from Obama late last week, when he hit Edwards for not using his influence to end the actions of third-party groups that support his presidential campaign and have been attacking both Obama and Clinton.

"You can't say yesterday you don't believe in it, and today three-quarters of a million dollars is being spent for you," said Obama. "You can't just talk the talk. Everybody talks change, but how did they act when it was not convenient, when it's hard?"

Obama continued hitting that theme in his revamped stump speech Thursday, saying, "I don’t need any lectures on how to bring about change, because I haven’t just talked about it on the campaign trail. I’ve fought for change all my life."

Obama's campaign also released a 'fact check' Friday morning designed to portray Edwards as a onetime friend of interest groups, and a letter from eight former Edwards supporters who say they have switched their allegiance to Obama because of the former North Carolina senator's refusal to renounce the third-party ads.

"He said he would change Washington, and we believed him," the letter says. "Times have changed, and so has John Edwards."

The latest back and forth comes as several recent polls show the three candidates continue to be deadlocked in the Hawkeye State.

- CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney

Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • Hillary Clinton • Iowa
soundoff (35 Responses)
  1. paul

    These are the tactics which we can expect near the finish line. Both Edwards and Obama have been accused of being "too nice" to deal with Putin and some of the other world leaders out there, so they probably figure they won't lose much by dishing some dirt on the other campaigns. I guess what we can take away from it is that neither Edwards nor Obama is a saint.

    With regards to foreign policy, particularly the Middle East, my gut feeling is that the candidates would perform as follows (in descending order):

    Ready today: Biden, McCain

    May stumble at first, but will recover and make a good showing (like JFK with the Bay of Pigs, then the Cuban Missile crisis): Obama, Guiliani

    Smart enough, knowledgeable enough, not tough enough: Richardson

    Likely to be weak and indecisive: Hillary, Edwards

    Blissfully clueless: Romney, Huckabee

    December 28, 2007 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  2. Wild Bill/Sweet William Rock Hill SC

    As one who grew up in the Great Depression, I remember when we had another man who had very big house, was very rich, and wanted to be president. This man became president, and in his presidency, he did more for the common working man than the Republican Party has done in its entire existence.

    The mansion he lived in was called Hyde Park and his name was Franklin Roosevelt.

    Just how poor must one be, before he can try to help working people?

    December 28, 2007 09:24 pm at 9:24 pm |
  3. Charles , Texas

    People who are supporting Edwards are not smart enough to find out that he iswasting his time and ultimatly ruining Obama chances to win the nomination.
    1.In 2004, J.Edwards did not deliver his own state to Kerry
    2.Even now , he is trailing Clinton and Obama in his own state
    3.He lacks funds to go to distances after IA.
    4.He reminds me of Al Gore, who could not carry his own state because if Al Gore just did win TN, Florida would have been less headache for him.

    My logic is simple, being a fomer VP candidate, Edwards should have been doing good, but he is not,. which means that he has no chance to win the nomination.

    December 28, 2007 09:55 pm at 9:55 pm |
  4. Cate Graham

    Obama is not ready to lead. He has too little experience. Oprah and Michele will tell him what to do. He avoids voting by saying it is unconstitutional. I do not believe for one minute that the congress would waste it's time voting on "100" unconstitutional bills. He is absent so that he can say " I did not vote on a bill if it is controversial. If I missed 100 days of work, I would be fired. Don't be bushwacked by Obama.

    December 28, 2007 10:01 pm at 10:01 pm |
  5. Independent in IA

    How do you "...fight for change" when on Senate matters that can make a change, you vote "Present" so as not to offend anyone?

    How do you equate the spider-webs on the chair (from disuse) at the head of the Foreign Relations Committee with vast knowledge of " the world views the United States"?

    Obama is nothing more than an opportunist who sees his chance to further his own ego. He should have stuck to what he was reasonably adequate in accomplishing: helping his constituents in Chicago as a Civil Rights lawyer.

    December 29, 2007 06:30 am at 6:30 am |
  6. David

    lets the boys argue! CLINTON WILL BE PRESIDENT

    December 29, 2007 08:52 am at 8:52 am |
  7. Gil - California

    Fellows, knock it off. The two of you could easily be the President and VP during this election. I would vote for either of you individually, and together you can take our party the whole way. Stop the snipping and go after Hillary because if she gets the nomination it will chase me and many other registered Democrats over to the Republican side.

    December 29, 2007 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  8. Jeff in Plainfield, IL

    to Paul in Rochestor:

    I believe things are not always what they seem in campaigns (obviously), and what I believe we are seeing here is the future POTUS/VP, one way or the other, "arguing" over who is more the agent of change, in order to psychologically leave Hillary out of the picture entirely. The message is, "if this is what is important, here's your choices, pick one or the other...oh, her over there? She's got other reasons for running."

    Explicity or implicity, I believe Obama and Edwards are still working together to push Hillary out of the picture, a smart move by both, in my opinion.

    and to Steven in Charleston:

    I just want to say, great post. There's always a lot of bickering in political message boards of any type, but a posting like yours is actually effective. I'm a highly interested, though not astute follower of politics, and had been considering Edwards as my #2 Dem, one whom I would vote for in the general, should he win the nomination. I was not even aware of Edwards' "Plan for America", and have not read it yet, but I will be, as soon as I hit Submit here. I do agree, the Edwards coverage has been about as weak as the Ron Paul coverage.

    December 29, 2007 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  9. Jan from Iowa

    I am a John Edwards supporter all the way.
    I think Obama would be an excellent V.P. for Edwards.
    We do NOT want another Clinton in the White House anymore than
    we ever want to see another Bush in there. We have had enough of both to
    last us a lifetime !!
    Give Edwards/Obama a chance for a positive change.
    If Clinton ends up with the nomination...........I may "also" go Republican and I certainly don't want to do THAT !!

    December 29, 2007 10:14 pm at 10:14 pm |
  10. BEAMON

    Obama is going after Edwards because his internal polling shoes him in 3rd place and he knows a 3rd place finish in Iowa would finish him off. He can't catch Hilary so he is trying to salvage 2nd place.

    December 29, 2007 11:24 pm at 11:24 pm |
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