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. JJ, Ca

    How many of you supporting Obama notice that media has already abandoning Obama and rallying around Edwards all of a sudden? Democrats should careful enough to see through this right-wing conspiracy. All they want is to stop Clinton, and it doesn't matter to them whether that person is Obama or Edwards.
    Also Bloomberg is considering running as a third party candidate if the democrat nominee is either obama or edwrads and republican is Huckabee. This shows what kind of a weak status they give to anyone other than Clinton.
    Republicans hate Clinton, at the same time they fear her. They know that they can't mess with the Clintons. We democarts should understand this challenge and work to send the strongest candidate Clinton to the front.

    December 31, 2007 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  2. Bradley S.

    You kidding me, Edwards? Since when was being a nice guy a bad thing? Personally, I'd rather have a genuine smiling face in the white house than some warmongering lunatic.

    December 31, 2007 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  3. stanz

    Barack's likeability results on Bill O'Reilly have been more than double Edwards and more than triple Hillary's. Check out his website. These results are the same 7/07 to 12/07. The significance is that the viewers are ultra conservative. Democrats will need Republican votes. Furthermore, Edwards’s numbers fall when he goes on the offensive, but Barack's climbed. Remember the Nevada Democratic debate? Edwards’s numbers fell and Barack's went up. The media kept saying how Iowa punishes a negative campaign. Barack was punished for lies about his faith. Barack has always been a Christian and those lies wouldn't hold up under national scrutiny. This is about ability, not survivability (experience). I read that Iowa's SAT scores were highest in the nation.What if Iowa’s SAT scores were discounted? They say nothing about experience but everything about ability. What if Iowa’s sports teams had to forfeit the game before it started to the more experienced team?

    December 31, 2007 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  4. Jerry,DENVER,CO

    Be part of the solution, vote for OBAMA!!!

    December 31, 2007 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  5. Lynn, Reno, NV

    I would say instead that Edwards is too angry to be President. He would never get the cooperation of 60 Senators to get anything done, and why do we want a hothead running our foreign policy and the military.

    December 31, 2007 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  6. TTJ

    Obama, FTW!!!!

    Prediction: Obama wins Iowa by more than 5 pts.

    December 31, 2007 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  7. Bill

    I'm an Obama supporter, but I wouldn't mind too much if Edwards won Iowa and eventually got the nomination. He doesn't seem very smart, but he does seem authentic. He also doesn't have that cutthroat mentality of Hillary... his knock on Obama was that he is "too nice", for goodness sakes.

    Obama-Edwards '08, for a better America

    December 31, 2007 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  8. Mel

    one of powerful countries: Russia changed because of Reagan. Reagan called old Russia ruler to attend his meetings number of times. Old Russia ruler did.

    I believe in Obama and he can change for better if he asks anyone to attend his meetings.

    Edward is silly!

    December 31, 2007 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  9. John

    There is enough anger in Washington, there is no need for more heat. We need more transparency and light in Washington. Obama wants to do this by shining light in washington and bringing people in to the government to watch and superwise the process of healthcare and energy reform. That is the most effectve way to do this. I don't think those who use too much rhetoric can deliver ther promises, as Bush has not been deliver any success despite all his rhetorics.

    December 31, 2007 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  10. Mike

    Let's go Edwards supporters.

    We need you on board to defeat Hillary.

    If BO and JRE teamed up......... unstoppable.

    Get on board folks!

    Obama/Edwards 08

    December 31, 2007 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  11. Lynn, Reno, NV

    Of course, Clinton has been "fighting" the Republicans for 30 years. Why would she get any cooperation from them to get her programs passed. She wouldn't. She would not be able to govern effectively. Half the country doesn't like her. It will just be battle, battle, battle and gridlock. She is the worst choice for the Dems.

    December 31, 2007 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  12. Mati

    Hillary would be my first choice but I like Edwards too.

    The only clear thing is that I don't like Obama who continues to disappoint me with his lack of substance doubled by aggressive attacks on rivals, and this cheap/popular style (language, manners). I don't believe one word of his promises to change the world.. in what direction? Sorry, I don't think we should aim toward an Obama-like world. Someone has to do real work in this world and he is a lazy talker.

    December 31, 2007 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  13. jeremy

    I would rather have somebody in office that actually gets people together for discussion compared to somebody that starts off with threats. I think the last 8 years has showed us what threats do. NOTHING but harm.

    Obama is a man of integrity and is capable of having intelligent discussions/negotiations with parties that disagree. The time of no communication brought our country and the world nothing but trouble.

    All of the great leaders of this country have been communicators. To communicate you must create conversation that is meaningful and not full of one sided threats.


    December 31, 2007 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  14. Robert Bell

    Let's see, a personal injury attorney running for President.

    That's not "nice" at all.

    He should know...

    December 31, 2007 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  15. Lynn, Reno, NV

    I think we need someone with and even head and an even temperament to be our President in these crucial times. Obama has those qualities that we need to steer us through all the important choices ahead of us. He also has the political skills to inspire the country and work with Congress to get something actually done.

    December 31, 2007 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  16. JC

    Found written on the wall in Mother Teresa's home for children in Calcutta:

    People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.

    If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.

    December 31, 2007 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  17. Tom Flagstaff, AZ

    We're going to hate having Hillary as President. She lies whenever it's in her interest. She's in bed with special interests. John Edwards is the special interests' worst nightmare. If we really want to take this country back, vote for Edwards. I hope he wins big in Iowa with Obama in a healthy second place finish, and with Hillary far behind.

    December 31, 2007 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  18. msCiara

    I have no problem with people with different opinion's but have some respect. Michele and Barack Obama worked there way up. Neither was given anything. Your disrespect of them is sad. We should be proud of people who beat the odds and achieve; If YOU have done half of what they have achieve THEN you judge them ! They do not come from a rich or famous family, or have millions of dollars.They ARE US ! More so them most of the other people running for President. Barack's wrote and worked his way up. You may hate him and his wife, but you should respect what he has achieved. I am so sick of reading hate filled poss on CNN. Really America what have WE become ?

    December 31, 2007 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  19. X, Madison WI

    JJ from CA, I've seen your exact same post elsewhere – go home and get a job. If you think you're doing HRC a favor, you're not. Obama is going to sweep IOWA and there's nothing the Clinton machine can do about that.

    OBAMA 08

    December 31, 2007 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  20. Let the Leaders Lead, Arcadia, Iowa

    Barak Hussein obama is a nice and gentle man who just got his college loans paid off. I have two sons under 35 and they both have paid off their student loans. Obama is a great Vice Presidential candidate. John Edwards is the next leader of this country. Hillary will contine with a successful Senate Career and when John is done Obama will be the next president. Lets think long term here. The Democrats have a chance at 16 years of leadership. Do what is right for now, vote John Edwards on January 3.

    December 31, 2007 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  21. Brad, Charleston, SC

    Edwards/Obama '08
    What a team!

    December 31, 2007 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  22. Christian, Tampa FL

    Since when is Edwards the grand messiah of the battle against special interests?

    Obama is nice, and that's a good thing. I highly doubt that his niceness would keep him from being a good president or fighting special interests; it might just help.

    December 31, 2007 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  23. Christine

    Sooooooo – being nice is a BAD thing now? Edwards is threatened by Obama and is pulling at strings here. Obama is the man for the job. He's the fresh, honest face that Washington needs.

    December 31, 2007 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  24. john adkisson

    A president must be decisive but not coarse and angry. Nor should a president be alienating or imprisoned by the ways of Washington. Only Obama, a tough veteran of Chicago politics who has retained his grace and inclusive attitude, can meet the standards of our truly great presidents.

    Edwards and Clinton want to reign over an angry 51% majority. Obama can unite a real working majority for change.

    December 31, 2007 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  25. Steve, Thousand Oaks, CA

    Edwards is the only candidate to come out against media consolidation. He was the first major candidate to come out with a Universal Healthcare plan. He is the only candidate talking about poverty and economic inequality in this country. That is LEADERSHIP, something sorely lacking in Washington these days. Vote for Edwards if you believe, as I do, that the only way to take back our country is to rip it from the hands of those running it into the ground.

    December 31, 2007 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
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