December 28th, 2007
02:00 PM ET
14 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, Rochester, MN

    Does anyone have any opinions about this ongoing battle between Edwards and Obama?? It doesn't make sense to me...they drag each other through the mud, while Clinton stays above the fray, and she wins Iowa, especially with her new, very serious and experienced tone on the campaign trail. It seems like it is already taking its toll on Obama.; in the latest LA Times/Bloomberg poll, Clinton leads Edwards by 6% and Obama by 9% in Iowa.

    Do the campaigns know something we don't?

    December 28, 2007 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  2. jack, ny, ny

    Obama the pitbul is back.....keep barking

    December 28, 2007 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  3. julie slc ut.

    It's sort of funny to hear Edwards argue this. Edwards had one term as a senator. Obama has held office since 1996 and has a record of getting tough laws passed. What has Edwards done besides vote for the Iraq war, and buy himself a senatorial seat? (By the way, Edwards- mr. middle class- is LITERALLY 25 times richer than Obama. Obama, with 1.3 mil in assets is down right poor compared to Edwards- who acts as if he has a clue about what it's like to worry about paying the mortgage.)


    December 28, 2007 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  4. Brian, Syracuse NY

    "And to all of those who are missing a loved one, there are no words any of us can express, except to tell you in the clearest possible terms we will — in a united American response — support you, offer assistance to you, stand with you, and pursue those who reached deep into your family homes yesterday and took someone you loved away from you."
    -Hillary Clinton, 12 Sep. 2001

    …How is diverting our forces from Afghanistan to Iraq, a country which had nothing to do with 9/11, pursuing "those who reached deep into your family homes yesterday and took someone you loved away from you"? Saddam Hussein was not responsible for a single American death on 9/11, yet he's dead. Osama Bin Laden was responsible and he remains free because of Clinton and the Neocons' War in Iraq.

    On January 3rd, 2008, the voters in Iowa will take Hillary "Empty Suit" Clinton to task for her empty promises and empty gestures that left America's brave and proud with so many empty hearts and empty pockets.

    December 28, 2007 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  5. Steven in Charleston, SC

    Well, it's light, but at least Edwards is getting ~some~ coverage! By reading this ticker, you would barely know he's running, let alone in a 3-way tie in Iowa and ~leading~ in the electability polls!

    Ok, let's be honest here - when it comes to special interest money, no one is pure. And I'm sure Edwards didn't complain too much when the 527 ads supporting him started running. But he is also the only one who has had the guts to refuse any PAC money, and to sign on to public election financing - something neither Clinton or Obama has done. If he wins the nomination he will do so having maintained a level of independence that neither of the others will.

    I have to wonder, how many people have truly taken the time to read and understand Edwards' comprehensive plan for America? It is clearly laid out in an 80-page, downloadable document on his website. All the other candidates talk about how they are going to affect "change," but they do so in broad terms - only Edwards has had the guts to say "HERE IS MY PLAN!" If you have read it and think he has the wrong ideas for America, fair enough. But if you are supporting one of the other candidates without even bothering to read Edwards' ideas, then you are doing him, yourself, and the entire country a disservice.

    December 28, 2007 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  6. T Knight

    The time has come, and will quickly pass, for Obama to show us the way forward through leadership and actions that comport with his message. So far we have not seen anything by way of his conduct that bears a facsimile to his rhetoric and promise of being a change agent. Barak missed the omnibus spending bill vote, and has missed some 80% of Senate votes since May. Why should we believe this guy has what it takes? If he has what it takes, why did he come out in his first post-xmas speech touting that he got "8 hours of sleep for Xmas". Sounds like preservation of the illusion of heroism, as opposed to leadership.

    Let's wake up America, Barak is far from ready to lead!

    December 28, 2007 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  7. La'Kitgum, Concord, NH

    This is cowardise. Obama is running away from what he has been doing for the past many years: accountability. Obama knows that 8 years of tough legislations and votes will show his indicisiveness and expose him to the true definition of relevant experience. To date he has thrived by skipping tough decisions as state senator and wants to do the same as US senator. His strategy has been to climb the ladder as fast as one can before voting records show one's weaknesses.

    Obama knows that the next 8 years will do more harm to his purity – actually, avoidence – of skipping up the ladder so fast before the dust settles on truth. Eight years will sufficienntly open Obama to challenges on his voting records and he is trying to avoid it as early as possible. All this crap about my wife saying it's now or never is a total lie.

    This is the most outregeous comment ever from the Obama campaign? It is the lowest level of desperation any campaign could show at exploiting Bhutto's death for political ends. Sincerely, how could any one link Clinton to Bhutto's death if it isn't a case of desperation? To say Clinton is responsible for Bhutto's death because she voted to authorize war in Iraq and that she votted to lebel the Iranian Republican Army a terrorist organization is from the brains of the simplest of simpletons.

    If that is what David Axelrod believes is a political stregy I sympathize with the deficiencies in the Obama campaign. It is desperation that will fatally lay to waste the Obama campaign before Iowa Jan 3rd.

    David Axelrod speaks like a mental case and I sincerely believe that he is even by just looking at his facial composure and body language. The whole Obama campaign will sink beyond rescue on Jan 3rd in Iowa because of Axelrod's dumb remarks. How silly can one be. Believe me.

    December 28, 2007 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  8. MarkieBee, Sacramento, Calif.

    Is Edwards really going to pounce on Obama for taking lobbyists money in the past when he accepted more than $3 million in support from 527s just this week? Man, John, way to hand Obama big stick to whack you with just days before the caucus. But as an Obama supporter I say go ahead and open up this front. In 2004, Mr. Edwards, you were crying about 527s yet almost four years later they've provided your bankrupt campaign the only support it can get. So I guess it's okay if they're 527s on your behalf and can be called SwiftBoatersforEdwards? What a hypocrite. The dude with the least elected legislative experience in either party's nomination race and he comes up with this one? I hope Iowans are paying attention...and they are.

    December 28, 2007 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  9. Paul, Rochester, MN

    Does anyone have any opinions about this ongoing battle between Edwards and Obama?? It doesn't make sense to me…they drag each other through the mud, while Clinton stays above the fray, and she wins Iowa, especially with her new, very serious and experienced tone on the campaign trail. It seems like it is already taking its toll on Obama.; in the latest LA Times/Bloomberg poll, Clinton leads Edwards by 6% and Obama by 9% in Iowa.

    Do the campaigns know something we don't?

    December 28, 2007 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  10. DirkNowitski

    That is good news! This will be the last we see of him...and her!

    December 28, 2007 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  11. Peter, NYC

    Edwards is a joke. He couldn't even win his home county for his ticket in 2004.

    December 28, 2007 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  12. Jacque Blaeske

    Has anybody out there checked Mr. Edwards' campaign finance reports at the site? There are some PACs to which it does not appear he returned their contributions to them.

    Why do our presidential elections always turn out to be a three ring circus with the politicians the main clown act?

    December 28, 2007 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  13. Augustine, FL

    John Edwards should give up and go home to his wife and secret girlfriend, Riele hunter, who's expecting his baby.

    He doesn't have a 50-states strategy, he doesn't have any money to compete with Clinton and Obama, he cannot win the Women vote, he cannot win the black vote.

    What in the friggin hell is this man doing in this race? He had his chance in 2004- he won only 2 primaries and couldn't even help John Kerry win his own home state in the general election. What a shame!

    December 28, 2007 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  14. KEVIN, Loves Park, IL

    The Assassination of Fmr. PM Bhutto is upsetting. Pakistan is suffering greatly at this loss. But within the political confusion in Pakistan, why are U.S. Presidential candidates complicating the situation? The United States has ONE President and our condolences, views, opinions and policies should be communicated thru Him. Regardless if you like him or not, BUSH is our elected leader. John Edwards, Joe Binden, Hillary Clinton, Rudy Juliani and the like should NOT be calling over to Pakistan talking to anyone about anything. Edwards isnt even a Senator or a U.S. Representative – what the hell is he doing calling the President of Pakistan? It sends mixed messages to the world that the U.S. President is not in control. Edwards, Binden, Clinton and Juliana are only calling Pakistan to have a sound-bite to look Presidential before the primaries. OBAMA is the only one who came out on Top in this situation. He contacted the U.S. State Department for answers. OBAMA showed great leadership in following the President of the United States. The Presidential candidates should remember they are meerly that... CANDIDATES!

    December 28, 2007 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  15. QuakerOats

    Neither Obama nor Edwards can win if the other is in the race. At the same time, each have a shot in a two person race with Hillary. It's all about the huge anti-Hillary vote. Either would be stronger in the general election, although Edwards is clearly the strongest of the three.

    Btw, neither is pure as the driven snow on this, but Edwards' point that Obama is compromised as an agent of change by the $70 million he's raised is legitimate. At least Edwards has taken a stand on money in politics now (even if by necessity).

    December 28, 2007 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  16. P Campbell

    Edwards is going to fix our system? Is he serious? Does anyone else remember that Edwards is the guy who got his start by making millions in malpractice lawsuits? Now he wants us to believe his spin when he claims he was fighting for the little guy when in actuality he sometimes took up to 40% comissions (search for Edwards, Kerry and lawsuit on the NYtimes to see the article to which I'm referring that came out soon after he was nominated to be Kerry's sidekick)? He wants to claim he's an agent for change but what has he done as a senator? At least Obama had the guts to speak out against Iraq and to walk the walk as this article points out.

    December 28, 2007 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  17. CAL Grrl

    Golly! When I was in politics, only 25-30 years ago, the Dems didn't have an "Attack & Destroy" way of campaigning. How stupid will it look when the losers have to support their nominee, whoever s/he is?

    I personally don't think any of them are truly "phonies," it is just Politics that makes them so. What has become of this country's elections is despicable to me – and I blame the fact that no one learns about their responsibilities as citizens – to at least try to understand how the gov't works and why it is important to VOTE.
    The USA is now into easy, quick, violent, simple answers (or slogans), so I don't blame the politicians. We get what we deserve.

    Even so, I still have hope. I will vote for Edwards in our primary here (Feb 5). I'd be so happy if we ever elect a woman or a black person as president. Even next year. But John E. is my man...

    December 28, 2007 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  18. sandy madden

    I think that the candidates would b better off ignoring the remarks made about them. It would show more class than to rebuke them. We r not interested in the mud slinging and i would hope that it would stop before it gets filthy dirty

    December 28, 2007 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  19. Adele

    Edward is rich. Why would he want to take money from someone else when he can afford to pay for everything.

    December 28, 2007 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
  20. Kevin, SF, CA

    I'm for Biden, but if I had to choose between Edwards and Obama, I'd have to go with Obama. Edwards' us-versus-evil-corporate-greed schtick is getting old and he doesn't wear it well. He comes across as a phony to me. Obama, though I'm sure is also plenty sophisticated politically, seems far more genuine to me. Even if they were both equally evil internally, I want the better actor.

    December 28, 2007 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  21. moc, reno, nv

    These two are kicking the crap out of each other, and leaving Sen Clinton alone. Bad, very bad.

    December 28, 2007 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  22. james

    john is a rich man and why cant he explain how he became so rich,by exploiting the very same people that he wants to take care ,he does not need the lobbiyst money why because he is one of them ,

    December 28, 2007 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  23. CS, Gerald, MO

    Thank you Steven in Charleston, SC. Why do people trash Edwards for having money? He along with Obama earned their money by rising up from the lower classes of America. They embody the American dream. I would vote for a self made person any day of the week and twice on Sunday. No Daddy's money in these 2 campaigns.

    December 28, 2007 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  24. Caroline

    As much as I don't like Edwards, I am really beginning to see the real Obama. He is a snake under the grass. He attacks and when someone attacks him, he cries foul. You talk about CNN being biased to the Clinton's (which I strongly disagree), check out MSNBC. I want to puke everytime I turn to that channel. That Chris Matthews just has to be on Obama's payroll for sure. It's disgusting. Faux news also knows as Fox at least they are consistent by bashing all democrats.

    You Obama supporters should all be worried about his foreign policy experiece. Claiming in his speech today on the stump that Osama is somewhere in the WOODS between Pakistan and Afganistan. If he understood his geography, he will have known that there are no WOODS between those two borders but MOUNTAINS. This is the guy people want to trust as President at a time of war. No thanks.

    December 28, 2007 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |
  25. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    Edwards and Obama sure pose a gorgeous photo together and both look very presidential/vice presidential. Unfortunately, this election is not a beauty contest because Bush and Cheney's photo would have never made it, or was Bush and Cheney's election about intelligence. So now we have Edwards and Obama both gorgeous and intelligent.

    December 28, 2007 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
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