Obama Pokes at Edwards Over Advocacy Group's Ads
By Perry Bacon Jr.
WINTERSET, Iowa -- As former North Carolina senator John Edwards and Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.) battled this weekend over economic matters, addressing what has become the biggest issue of the race in Iowa, they also squabbled over the role in the Democratic campaign of independent advocacy groups called 527s.
One such group called Alliance for a New America, being advised in part by 2004 Edwards campaign manager Nick Baldick, has been running ads on Edwards's behalf throughout Iowa, and on Saturday, Obama blasted his rival for not calling for the ads to be taken down.
"John said yesterday, he didn't believe in these 527s," said Obama. "We found out today there's a group buying three-quarters of a million dollars worth of television, and the individual running the group used to be John Edwards's campaign manager."
Edwards said he had not known about the ad buy until learning of it through news reports. He added, "Let me be clear: I am asking this group and others not to run the ads. I would encourage all the 527s to stay out of the political process."
Obama aides said their candidate attacked Edwards on this point because it showed an inconsistency, but in the final days of the Iowa campaign, the two camps are competing for many of the same voters who aren't with Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.).
Meanwhile, Edwards urged the federal government to do more to assist states and localities prop up flagging budgets. He called for an initial investment of $25 billion, which would devote more federal funds toward Medicaid and offering laid-off workers more weeks of unemployment insurance. He said he would consider another $75 billion program, which would include tax cuts for low- and middle-income individuals, to help the economy.
"Our economy is slowing under the weight of stagnant wages, a major housing crisis and a spike in energy costs," Edwards said in a statement. "And now, leading economists are saying there's a substantial risk we could enter a recession."
Obama spent the day complaining about international free trade agreements, an issue that Edwards focused on first but has seen his rivals join in the criticism. Obama debuted an ad in Iowa called "Enough" that said, "We've got to stop giving tax breaks to companies that are moving overseas and give those tax breaks to companies that are investing right here in Iowa."
"When I'm President, we'll make sure our trading partners live up to their agreements," Obama said on the stump. "When I'm president, we'll give you training before you lose your job if there's a good chance it will be shipped overseas."
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