Iowa -- Barack Obama and John Edwards separately castigated Democratic front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton for defending lobbyists and portrayed her as the consummate Washington insider with special interest ties.
"If you don't think lobbyists have too much influence in Washington, then I believe you've probably been in Washington too long," Obama said Monday. Added Edwards in an Associated Press interview: "Democratic candidates, and for that matter all candidates, should just say we're not taking these peoples' money anymore because it's the way to take their power away from them, and it's the way to bring about the change that this country needs."
On Saturday, the New York senator drew boos and hisses from liberal bloggers when, unlike Edwards and Obama, she refused to forsake campaign donations from the special interest industry. Instead, she said: "A lot of those lobbyists, whether you like it or not, represent real Americans, they actually do."
Neither Edwards nor Obama accept money directly from federal lobbyists but both take contributions from people who work at firms with lobbying operations.
Clinton opened the door with her defence of lobbyists, which presents a grand opportunity for her rivals to paint her as the "inside the beltway" candidate, detached from ordinary America. The other day I commented on Clinton's gaffe free campaign. I would now like to amend that comment, because this is an issue that resonates, could cause lasting damage and provide a coherent theme from which her opponents can attack. Clinton will never win the complicated question of lobbyists, because the kneejerk impression- they compromise the country's greater interests and convey an element of corruption, compromise through influence. This issue has legs.
Edwards wasn't done attacking Clinton, in a indirect attack, he criticizes the former Clinton administration:
Democratic presidential contender John Edwards on Monday criticized former President Clinton, arguing that he allowed corporate insiders to shape the 1993 North American Free Trade Agreement that has cost U.S. jobs...
``It's time that the president stood up and fought for American workers,'' Edwards told a crowd of about 300 people at a union hall in Cedar Rapids. ``It's time to have a president that always puts the interests of the American people first.''
While Edwards' speech did not mention the name Clinton, the object of his complaint was obvious. Edwards criticized the presidential leadership during the 1993 passage of NAFTA, which was started by President George H.W. Bush and pushed through by Clinton. He said the trade agreement between the United States, Mexico and Canada was ``written by insiders in all three countries.''
The Clinton campaign released a statement, framing the attacks as a sign of desperation and a reaction to Hillary's national polling surge. Probably true, but Edwards has woven two seperate examples into a unifying theme. We now have a anti-Hillary rallying cry, let the games begin.