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No More Mr. Nice Guy

John Edwards greets a fan on the trail in Iowa. (AP)

Former Sen. John Edwards is stepping up his anti-Washington rhetoric -- and trying to rope Sen. Barack Obama into the debate.

The Edwards campaign on Wednesday sent Obama a letter asking him to co-sign a statement to Democratic party leaders asking them to stop accepting campaign contributions from federal lobbyists. Obama has made his refusal to accept such donations a signature part of his changing-Washington campaign.

And at a visit to the state fair the same day, Edwards drew loud applause when he called for a shift in the way business is done inside the Beltway. "I want to make it clear to America that we are not the party of Washington insiders," Edwards said. Later, talking to reporters, Edwards took a subtle shot at Obama, saying that being gentle with corporate interests -- drug companies, insurance companies, oil companies -- is not the way to effect change.

Obama, while promising to end the cozy relationship between lobbyists and lawmakers, has done so in a relatively conciliatory tone -- saying lobbyists can have a seat at the table, but not buy the entire table. His campaign issued a statement in response to Edwards' appeal saying Obama "appreciates what John Edwards is saying about lobbyists" but that it is not enough to just refuse money from them. "We have to curb their influence," the statement said.

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, by contrast, defended lobbyists during a recent Democratic debate.

But Edwards did not go so far as to sign onto recent criticism of Clinton by departing Bush political adviser Karl Rove, who described Clinton as a "fatally flawed" candidate on Wednesday.

"I agree with almost nothing that Karl Rove says," Edwards said. "It will be for our caucus goers to decide what they believe."

--Anne E. Kornblut

By Washington Post editors  |  August 16, 2007; 8:15 PM ET
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at the Fair

Next: Giuliani's Gaza Analogy


please peter, why don't you enlighten this "average citizen" with what obama's "reform" has done? Maybe Rezko can fill us in.

Posted by: J33Edwards | August 17, 2007 5:03 PM | Report abuse

In response to an earlier comment about banning all lobbyists, I might suggest that while refusing (or banning even) gifts and contributions from lobbyists is an admirable position for a politician to take, banning lobbyists altogether is not. For busy politicians with a lot of intellectual material on their plates, listening to lobbyists on two sides of an issue is one of the best ways to learn about it. The caveat is that it shouldn't be money that secures that audience with the politician, and it shouldn't be money that informs the position he or she arrives at. Edwards is attempting to take the leadership crown from Obama on an issue for which they share each other's position, despite Obama's substantive legislative record on the subject. And in response to J33Edwards, I don't know that the effects of any ethics reform package in a state legislature would be immediately observable to the average citizen.

Posted by: certop | August 17, 2007 1:54 PM | Report abuse

Once again Democrats take turns sniping at each other over issues that do not resonate with the American People. Leaving time and space for a Republican to take the lead on issues that mean the most to peoples lives. It's only a matter of days not months before some one on the other side of fence comes up with something akin to "A new Day in America" filled with promises of peace, wealth and health and the Democrats will still be arguing over lobbyist money. I mean who would rather listen to the Guys telling why everything is wrong or the person telling about the new brighter days to come? I know Republicans won't deliver the goods but they always create wonderful menus of promises

Posted by: jsanderson2 | August 17, 2007 1:52 PM | Report abuse

julieds says:

"Also, Obama got ethics reform pushed through the illinois state legislature and co authored the ethics reform bill they're debating in the senate right now."

do you live in Illinois? I do and Obama's claim of reforming our legislature and passing ethics bills is all talk, it accomplished nothing here.

Posted by: J33Edwards | August 17, 2007 10:46 AM | Report abuse

Notice how two D candidates now keep firing shots at Obama. He returns them readily when given, but is not the one to launch them in the first place.

The only Edwards supporters I know personally are humorless perspectiveless hyperliberals. Of course I do not know everyone in the United States of America, but for what it is worth.

Posted by: sickofspam | August 17, 2007 9:43 AM | Report abuse

Hey, nosubstituteforvictory, are you a communist? Because otherwise why does John Edwards personal wealth make any difference in terms of his public advocacy? Do you think someone can advocate for the poor without being a communist? I do.

Posted by: chessvariants | August 17, 2007 5:21 AM | Report abuse

Edwards has always shown leadership on the issue of lobbying money, since he first ran for president. I remember seeing him in debates saying, not just that he would refuse to accept money from lobbyists, but that he would ban lobbyists altogether.

Posted by: chessvariants | August 17, 2007 4:59 AM | Report abuse

Oh come on John, you are so full of it... your demagougery is not catching on over in wacko dean land - maybe its because of the fact that you live in a 15 million dollar mansion and work for a hedge fund. get over your ego, dude, you are not going to be el presidente. and call off your kamikaze wife too.

Posted by: nosubstituteforvictory | August 17, 2007 4:46 AM | Report abuse

The Million Dollar Round table, a distinguished group of Plaintiff trial attorneys back when I was practicing law [over 20 years ago] now needs to be renamed the Billion Dollar Round table and restricted to class action plaintiff attorneys, or renamed for those lobbyists who have donated over a million dollars to Congressmen and Senators. LOL

Posted by: brucerealtor | August 17, 2007 3:04 AM | Report abuse

I think Edwards is just about finished with his bid for Prez 08, although he probably will stay around awhile for appearances sake. I am thinking of him as a top choice as Atty Gen., with his expierence as a plantiffs atty, this would be a good spot for him.

Posted by: lylepink | August 17, 2007 1:23 AM | Report abuse

I am looking forward to casting my vote for John Edwards in 2008. He is the only Democratic candidate who has the ability to restore my faith in our government.

Unlike the frontrunners, Edwards is not an "empty suit" or a spouse riding on the coattails of her husband -- a beloved former president. Edwards has answers and ideas, whereas others offer only blank stares and empty promises.

The race for the White House should not be a popularity contest, as the stakes are too high.

Posted by: ojfrogman | August 17, 2007 1:05 AM | Report abuse

Julieds, thanks for your comment, because it allows me a chance to clear up a misconception. The mandate of health insurance is not just going to leave people hanging in "violation of the law."

There is a government funded plan, which will compete with private plans. Nobody gets left out. That's the point of a universal health plan.

Edwards has thought it through, to a greater extent than any other candidate. You can read his plan for healthcare here:

Posted by: dailykos1 | August 17, 2007 12:47 AM | Report abuse

Obama has not, contrary to public opinion, stopped taking money from lobbyists. He HAS stopped taking money from lobbyists registered in Washington, but is continuing to take money from Illinois lobbyists. Illinois is the nation's fifth most populous state, and home to the nation's third largest city. Illinois lobbyists, therefore, represent a lot of large, multinational corporations. For example, Obama has been a great friend of Archers Daniel Midland, one of the global giants of the agribusiness industry. It seems to me that his often-drawn claim not to accept contributions from Washington lobbyists is a bit disingenuous, but I'm sure all of you can draw your own conclusions.

Posted by: isaac.howley | August 17, 2007 12:26 AM | Report abuse

Edwards has all these grand ideas he doesn't think through. There's this one (point made in my previous post) and then that healthcare plan of his....

His plan doesn't give us healthcare, it MANDATES that we all buy health insurance. (like car insurance)

So then, folks who can't afford health insurance still stress out cuz they can't afford insurance, but then they also get to stress out that they'll get caught breaking the law.

Obviously Edwards has never been a hard-working-but-poor person.

Posted by: julieds | August 16, 2007 11:47 PM | Report abuse

Edwards isn't leading squat.

Obama already stopped accepting lobbyists' and pac money.

Also, Obama got ethics reform pushed through the illinois state legislature and co authored the ethics reform bill they're debating in the senate right now.

Furthermore, i believe eliminating all lobbyists should be the ultimate goal, but it would be foolish for other democrats (who are not running for prez) to stop taking lobbyists money, unless the repubs stop too. You want all the dem seats to go to the repubs? That's what will happen if dems can't fund their elections.

Posted by: julieds | August 16, 2007 11:43 PM | Report abuse

That's a great challenge by Edwards, as they say, lead, follow, or get out of the way. Edwards is choosing to lead, you can draw your own conclusions about his competition.

Posted by: sfmandrew | August 16, 2007 11:04 PM | Report abuse

Hillary Clinton has a lot of good qualities, she's knowledgeable and safe, but her only executive experience amounts to a failed attempt at healthcare, and she was wrong on the war. She would strongly polarize this nation at it's weakest time in decades. A LOT of republicans HATE her. Obama could unite and strengthen our nation, and its image around the world.

Posted by: markdmorris | August 16, 2007 10:58 PM | Report abuse

Edwards showing leadership on yet another issue.

Posted by: creeley | August 16, 2007 10:47 PM | Report abuse

Democrats should take it easy on the circular firing squad formation, and concentrate on constructive ideas for pulling our nation out of the deep hole that Bush-Cheney-Rove (the new 'Axis of Evil') have pushed our USA down into.

I*ve notice that although Obama can respond forcefully, he does not fire the first shot at a fellow Democrat.

Posted by: cwh2 | August 16, 2007 10:28 PM | Report abuse

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