"Lincoln Bedroom is Not For Rent"
MANCHESTER, N.H. -- So far, most of the Democratic presidential candidates have avoided taking swipes at Bill Clinton as they campaign against his wife. But John Edwards broke the taboo on Thursday.
"The American people deserve to know that their presidency is not for sale, the Lincoln Bedroom is not for rent," Edwards said, invoking the scandal that erupted when it was discovered the Clintons had let campaign donors stay in the Lincoln bedroom of the White House during the 1990s.
Howard Wolfson, the Clinton communications director, shot back that "angry attacks on other Democrats won't improve Senator Edwards' flagging campaign or help American achieve the change we need."
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton has faced few questions about the controversies of her husband's two terms in office as she runs for president herself. She has brought her husband--still a highly popular figure within the Democratic party--out on to the campaign trail, and frequently reminds voters about the economic successes of the 1990s (reminders that Edwards derisively referred to as misguided "nostalgia" in his Thursday speech).
Will other Democrats begin to take on the former president more directly? Sen. Barack Obama has talked about the polarizing effect of the Clinton years, frequently framing the election as more of the same (the Clintons) versus change (himself). When his wife, Michelle, recently said candidates should clean up their own homes before trying to run the White House, it triggered speculation that she was referring to the Clintons' marital problems.
Edwards' speech sounded like a laundry list of comparisons between himself and the Clintons. Still, he didn't utter the Democratic front-runner's name. "It is a choice between looking back and looking forward," he said. "A choice between the way we've always done it and the way we could do it if we dared. A choice between corporate power and the power of democracy. Between a corrupt and corroded system and a government that works for us again. It is caution versus courage. Old versus new. Calculation versus principle."
--Anne E. Kornblut
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