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. R.C. Granke, Madison, WI

    Keep up the good work John! This country desparately needs you for its next president.

    December 31, 2007 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  2. John C. Randolph

    One empty-suit candidate takes a mild cheap shot at the other empty-suit candidate. Slow news day, huh?


    December 31, 2007 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  3. Corey, Detroit

    Barack Obama is one of the most trust-worthy politicians I have ever seen, and that is why I will be voting for him. Policies and ideas are all fine and good, but keep in mind that the president is surrounded by advisors, many of whom would be the same regardless of the president elected, and kept on a short leash by congress. The president isn't the brains behind the operation, but he/she is the force which can push those ideas to fruition. Obama seems like he will be more willing to compromise and work with people (both allies and enemies, foreign and domestic) in order to bring about the most stable, safe, and prosperous environment for us and for the rest of the world.

    December 31, 2007 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
  4. ava

    The Biden campaign just ripped Edwards on his electability argument. See below for the link to the memo they sent out. Edwards is doing the same thing he did in 2004 where he bragged that, as a southerner, he’d be able to deliver southern states. The Kerry/Edwards ticket didn’t win even ONE southern state. They didn’t even win Edwards’ home state of North Carolina. Heck, they didn’t even win his home COUNTY.

    December 31, 2007 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  5. Jes, Bethesda, Maryland

    Edwards has no chance of winning the general election and he will bring more partisan bickering to Washington.

    Clinton is just old and stale.

    Obama is a nice guy but he's also quick and intelligent. From an objective viewpoint Obama has the best chance of getting things done in Washington. He is also a very good speaker and would be a good role model for young black youth.

    December 31, 2007 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
  6. GG, Frisco, Texas

    What's with the "Barack Hussein Obama, crap?" He didn't plan the 9/11 attack! He's an American and a Christian. Lets stop this nonsenses. But it obvious that Obama is very strong and definitely smart enough to stand ALONE for what he believed in by being against the Irag war when both JE & HC voted for it.

    WE TOOK OUR EYES OFF THE BALL, while 900 soliders have died in 2007 and things are getting worst as far as death of American soliders in Afghanistan. And now Congress gave $555 billion dollars to Bush while this country is struggling. What gives here?

    I like Edwards and I liked and pulled for him in 2004 but he's not strong enough and not clear on his message. i have been watching this Cancus for over a year and I'm noticing something very strong and very positive on the Obama side so the media are trying to balance this thing out so there will be a real race so that it can be interesting. While CNN tries to keep Obama and Edwards divided while Clinton doestn't talk with the's all a game.

    I think communication can resolve so many things including saving lives but I think that Obama would be tough if communication isn't working but it won't hurt to try.

    December 31, 2007 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  7. Trang, Fremont CA

    Well, Edwards is passionate about his cause, no doubt about it.

    However, since Hillary proposed her universal health care in secret and failed, I want to bring the issue to the public and let the public take a vote on it as Obama suggested. If that failed, then maybe Edwards is the way to go.

    I hate to see we beat each other over this. So, I want change but pursue the way that is the least damaging, and Obama is the way.

    I don't want to alienate people or beat up anyone, including the corporate. That's the last resort. Unlike Edward, I think there's still room to work this out peacefully.

    If Edward doesn't see how to pursue his goal peacefully, then I give Obama a shot at it. War/Conflict is the last resort.

    That's my image of Edward – a man with a club and he is going to beat you up if you don't listen to him. I understand his cause, but this is not the way to proceed.

    December 31, 2007 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  8. michael guinn

    It's TIME for some "niceness" in the White House! The smirky, negative, and down-right hateful politics of the current administration and some of the candidates in this election is what has gotten us into this mess! We need a change we can believe in! OBAMA 08!

    December 31, 2007 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  9. Rob

    Edwards-the women who like him need a man in their life and the men who like him need a set.

    December 31, 2007 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  10. Rob

    PS Same for Hillary

    December 31, 2007 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
  11. AJ, IL

    Edwards is trying to portray Obama as soft by implying that he is "too nice". Edwards is "re-running" on a populist platform (i.e. fighting corporate interest and influence and helping the poor). Many Edwards supporters look at only his 2008 Presidential campaign stump and not his political record or personal history.

    Edwards is a trial lawyer by profession and that is how he amassed his multi-million dollar fortune. Much of Edwards anti-corporate message as well as his disdain for Congress comes after he is longer about the establishment. In his time in the Senate, Edwards co-sponsored 203 bills.[ Among them was Lieberman's 2002 Iraq War Resolution (S.J.Res.46) which he co-sponsored along with 15 other senators which authorized the President to wage war in Iraq. Up until the 2004 Presidential election, Edwards vigorously defended his vote and position. But after he and Kerry lost the election and shortly before deciding to run for president in 2008, Edwards started apologizing for his vote.

    Edwards not only voted in favor of the Patriot Act, but was one of the senators selling it to Congress and the American public. Then after the 2004 election loss and shortly before announcing his 2008 candidancy, he starts claiming his Patriot Act vote was a mistake.

    Sorry John you have made too many major mistakes to get my vote to be President. I accept his apology, but my advice to him would be to focus more on spending time with his ill wife and young family as opposed to wasting time and effort running for president. I mean common on, where is his true priorities, politics over family?!?!?!

    December 31, 2007 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  12. Leslie

    Edwards is the only one out of the three with specific plans.
    Also he is electable. He is smart. He is honest. He is real.
    He has the best message.
    I am disappointed with CNN that they have excluded him
    from so much of their online news.

    December 31, 2007 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
  13. Damon Albarn

    Obama is the most turstworthy candidate.

    How on earth can people trust Clinton?

    How on Earth can they trust this power hungry snake?

    December 31, 2007 08:46 pm at 8:46 pm |
  14. Jaime Scottsdale,AZ

    Quoting..almost...from Edwards at the NV Dem debate..and this goes to Rob's comment...."Cute Robbie." (Actual quote was "Cute Denny" responding to Dennis K.) Now that is burley!

    December 31, 2007 08:53 pm at 8:53 pm |
  15. Lee, Greensboro, NC

    Edwards all the way!! I tire of reading all the smears some of you have written. He's a nice family North Carolina man!

    December 31, 2007 08:57 pm at 8:57 pm |
  16. Jenn

    Remember Obama hasn't taken any money from special interests therefore he owes no favors. Thats really persuasive in his argument that he can deal with them.

    December 31, 2007 09:11 pm at 9:11 pm |
  17. Jake, California

    Everything from you on this site is ridiculously negative against senator Obama.
    Most of the time hatred doesn't do it all. If you just get raid of hatred, you'll think clearly.
    Let me remind you that negative comments like those you make don't convince any sensible person to vote for Hillary or whomsoever you support.

    About half the country doesn't like Hillary and so wasting your time to get her selected as the Democrat Nominee is going to be another four years of Republican government crap to put up with

    Obama is the only democratic candidate that beats all 5 Republicans. If we miss out on this man, we're done. The Republicans will rule for another 4years.

    December 31, 2007 09:15 pm at 9:15 pm |
  18. Ava

    Edwards’ problem is electability. A poster on another blog by the name of “Phil J. in Iowa” said it very well (and I will paraphrase a bit).

    “The issue with you is electability, Mr. Edwards. You couldn’t even carry your own state in 2004 for Kerry.

    By foolishly accepting public financing instead of foregoing it, you will put yourself in a tremendous disadvantage with the GOP candidate who will be able to outspend you 3-to-1.

    Your argument suggesting that running even with Clinton and Obama after being outspent by them is an “accomplishment” is ridiculous, especially since you have been running for president in Iowa for over 7 years. You should be winning this caucus by a much wider margin than you are. You won’t, unfortunately, have 7 years to campaign in Ohio, Florida, Michigan, Missouri and other battleground states. You’ll have to campaign there on the airwaves, and by accepting public financing, you’ve compromised your entire general election campaign.”

    December 31, 2007 09:31 pm at 9:31 pm |
  19. Jim Bremer

    John "Ambulance" Edwards vs. Barack "Osama" Obama

    December 31, 2007 10:37 pm at 10:37 pm |
  20. Yermal

    We live in perilous times with Islamic "Jihadists" operating from numerous countries threatening our way of life. At home, the economy is facing threat from the national debt overload, growing trade gap, and the weakening dollar. At this critical time, we need an experienced leader ready to tackle the varied problems facing the country. I do not think Obama has the track record to lead the country now. It is no surprise that Obama is slipping in polls with Edwards gaining momentum in Iowa.

    December 31, 2007 10:58 pm at 10:58 pm |
  21. xtina chicago IL

    Edwrds' problem is that he's a socialist. He actually is saying "i'll TAKE AWAY the power of capitalism. " And people cheer for this!!

    December 31, 2007 11:22 pm at 11:22 pm |
  22. Leslie

    Hillary Clinton is not Bill Clinton. Do we even know who she
    is? Anyone familiar with married people knows that they
    are very different individuals. Bill Clinton is a person who
    listens to the people and truly empathizes with them. I am
    not sure that Hillary has this trait. She is too stoic for me
    to tell.
    Also, I am afraid that people in other areas of the country
    where Hillary is popular do not realize how deeply disliked
    she is in some other parts of the country. I believe that there
    are Southern Democrats who will vote for anyone but
    Hillary. I am not sure where the deep dislike ( understatement)
    comes from. I suspect that it is some kind of unconsious
    woman thing. Like thinking that all assertive women are evil
    or some such nonsense. That is still huge down here unfortunately.
    There is still alot of plain ignorance.
    Obama is just too inexperienced. I love Oprah but all
    her backing has concerned me. How many times do we
    see Oprah fall head over heels over the next interesting
    person-at least once a week! For example , I like the Secret DVD but I
    would not want those ideas running the country. The
    idea of Obama IS naive. He is black and smart and interesting
    but please not presidential material!!
    This leaves Edwards. It is so obvious. Go Edwards!!!!
    We have to be smart on this . That is where we have failed
    in the past. We need our person in office or we are in terrible

    December 31, 2007 11:27 pm at 11:27 pm |
  23. Leslie

    Nice means a doormat – naive in this situation. So many people are making
    Obama some kind of a dream person instead of looking at him

    Like someone said, if candidate does not show some anger now
    they are out of touch.

    I too do not understand why a vote for John Edwards is a vote for

    December 31, 2007 11:42 pm at 11:42 pm |
  24. YW

    Edwards has just become an angry populist. I voted for him in the 2004 Democratic primary, but I'm going with Obama this year. I'm tired of all this anger and lashing out at everyone. I'm tired to people who attack others and tell you they are the only ones who can help you, like Bush and Cheney consistently did.

    December 31, 2007 11:48 pm at 11:48 pm |
  25. Janel, St. Paul, MN

    So. . .a president shouldn't be "nice?"

    I'm proud to support a "nice" person who is extremely intelligent, caring, articulate, and will be a powerful witness to the rest of the world that we Americans are "free thinkers," and not about to again buy into the Bush-Clinton-Bush-Clinton dynasties.

    Go Obama, Go!!!

    December 31, 2007 11:49 pm at 11:49 pm |
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