December 31st, 2007
01:06 PM ET
14 years ago

Edwards hits Obama: Too 'nice'

John Edwards campaigns in Iowa Sunday. (Photo Credit: AP)

(CNN) - Democrat John Edwards suggested to an Iowa audience Sunday that presidential rival Barack Obama is too 'nice' to battle Washington's special interests.

Speaking on the stump in Boone, Iowa, Edwards didn't mention the Illinois senator by name. But as he related his familiar campaign mantra of battling interest groups inside the beltway, he implied that Obama just wasn't up to the task.

"I hear people say you can sit at a table with these people, negotiate with them, and they will volunteer their power away," Edwards said. "That is a complete fantasy. You can't ‘nice’ these people to death."

Obama often says he has ability to bring people together while forging compromises, making the idea a major cornerstone of his campaign's 'change' theme.

Special interests " will never give their power away," Edwards said Sunday. "The only way we are going to get their power away, is we are going to take their power away from them, and we have an epic fight in front of us. …"You’d better send somebody into that arena who’s ready for the fight."

Edwards' jab is part of a days-long back-and-forth between the presidential rivals as they battle to be the ‘Clinton-alternative’ in Iowa. Several recent polls show the Democratic race there continues to be deadlocked between the two men and New York Sen. Hillary Clinton.

Meanwhile, Obama hit Edwards on his record over the weekend, suggesting the former North Carolina senator has changed his position on several key issues.

"We are less likely also to win an election with somebody who had one set of positions four years ago and has almost entirely different positions four years later," he said. "We've been through that."

Related video: Edwards appears on CNN's American Morning Monday

- CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney

Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • Hillary Clinton • Iowa • John Edwards
soundoff (135 Responses)
  1. Janet

    Well.......we've tried Edwards' and Hillary's fighting and partisan bickering and posturing for political profit - and it's accomplished NOTHING.
    By contrast, Obama passed the most meaningful ethics legislation in 25 years in Congress!
    Obama is the only candidate who can UNIFY this what's right for America (rather than the narrow goal of what "looks good" for the next election, as Hillary and Edwards have as their inbred motivation).
    Polls repeatedly show that Barack draws massive Independent votes and even some reasonable Republican support - and is best able to give us the REALITY of a win in the GENERAL ELECTION NEXT NOVEMBER.......not just something that makes us Democrats feel "tough" in the primary among ourselves.....and then once again, find a way to "rescue defeat from the jaws of victory".
    BARACK OBAMA is the one candidate who can INSPIRE us to once again become "one nation" - and then actually WIN in November.........AND THEN GET MEANINGFUL REFORMS ACCOMPLISHED ONCE IN OFFICE!
    I think it's interesting that Barack has surged to the top from way back in the two states where voters have had the opportunity to actually get to KNOW all the candidates "up close and personal" and form an instinctive impression of who we can TRUST: Iowa and New Hampshire voters are going to propel Obama to a UNIFYING presidency! Thanks, Janet

    December 31, 2007 11:59 pm at 11:59 pm |
  2. GreyWolf

    It's not what they say. It's not what their appearance or personal pecadillos are. What have they done, what will they do? What can you read between the lines. Nearly 50% voted for Bush because they paid attention to a nice guy with nice catch phrases (like Romney!). So as USA approaches a time similar in dire situations to 1899 or 1929, which of the candidates can oppose huge and extremely wealthy established powers and accomplish progressive change like Teddy or Franklin Roosevelt, or, though being very intelligent, well-meaning, and stubborn, be a near total failure on many issues like Carter?

    January 1, 2008 01:39 am at 1:39 am |
  3. Aware

    Obama isn't too nice. He is just a typical UCC universalist with a slippery tongue.

    January 1, 2008 03:25 am at 3:25 am |
  4. BuhrmGotti

    Okay theres a HUGE difference between Edwards and Nader... EDWARDS actually shows up in polls, and EDWARDS actually shows up on top.... oh and by the way, hes the ONLY Democrat whos polled to beat ANY Republican candidate while Obama and Hillary have many opponents who they could potentially lose to.

    January 1, 2008 04:32 am at 4:32 am |
  5. Ajay Jain, Garland, TX

    "Former" Senator Edward can honk/attack and suggest ALL the Poverty programs all he wants from the "outside" and Hillary will get things done from the inside by becoming our President in 2009!

    Thats called a polite political SLAP in the FACE Mr Edwards! Edwards can try all the issues, raise any objection, run all the 527 third party ads, but with public money he is no match for Hillary and/or Obama in 2008.

    Go Hillary44 08!

    January 1, 2008 08:03 am at 8:03 am |
  6. Liam

    Edwards could not handle Dick Cheney in the 2004 debate, but now we are supposed to believe, after he has done nothing for the last four years, that he is going to dictate to the entire ruling class, and change Washington for ever.

    Do you believe in fairy tales!

    January 1, 2008 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  7. calling all toasters

    I, too, am tired of all the anger. Why can't we just let the Iraq War, Katrina, FISA, the wreck of the Justice Department, torture, etc., go? We need a nice, soothing, candidate like Obama so that these will never trouble us again. He will make us all feel good–he gives us hope! And we won't have to do all that partisan bickering required to change the system–Obama is so awesome it's just not necessary! I want my Obama-soma!

    January 1, 2008 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  8. TwoCentsWorth

    If "nice" in this context means the same as "naive" then I have to agree with Sen. Edwards on this one. Sen. Obama's view of how things get done is either intentionally disingenuous or else seriously lacking in depth and complexity–not the kind of person I really want at the negotiating table. Obama has essentially been giving the same speech for twenty years. He is full of the rhetoric of "change" and "hope" and spends a lot of time attacking opponents, but his current speeches seem very short on specific content about objectives and methods. Change what? How? By contrast, Sen. Clinton speaks with a strong, confident, and competent voice about specific issues and makes no secret of her proposed solutions. As to changing positions–and this applies to both Clinton and Edwards–I've nothing but respect for legislators who are willing to make decisions on what they know, but who are capable of changing and evolving as information, experience, and context evolve. Obama wants "change" but he criticizes change; he denigrates involvement in Iraq, but he is willing to bomb Pakistan, our ally and a country struggling to achieve a higher level of democracy!
    Sen. Edwards has a good, clean image and an applicable record, but I believe this election is not his time as yet. I hope he will position himself to be Sen. Clinton's vice-presidential running mate. I think that would clinch the election for the Democrats, and also put him in line for President in 8 years.

    January 1, 2008 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  9. Liam

    Edwards could not handle Dick Cheney in the 2004 debate. Was he "too nice" or was he just not up to the job? Since then, he had done nothing but run for president and run his mouth.

    Now we have the absurd situation where John Edwards is telling people why the should not vote for Senator Obama, while, at the same time, John Edwards' wife is complaining about Mrs. Obama telling a single voter why she should not vote for John Edwards.

    The Edwards are trying to have it both ways. The want to tell people to vote against Obama, but also claim that the Obamas should not tell people to vote against John Boy. Can you say hypocrisy, Boys and Girls?

    January 2, 2008 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  10. Bucklaw

    A vote for Edwards is a vote to end the war, a vote to free our children, a vote to end the corporate entities that are given more rights than people.

    In the Kucinich case, we heard of "first amendment rights of the corporation," that is a fallacy, always was, the clerk overseeing the case put that on the title page, to describe the case and the case had nothing to do with giving corporations personhood. So as Americans rights are being drained away, corporations get more rights. Was the Constitution written for Corporations? The system is rigged.

    Are you sure enough to be unsure about Obama and Hillary? Put America back on track vote Edwards.

    January 18, 2008 01:22 am at 1:22 am |
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