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"They'll Promise You Anything," Says Obama of Rivals

Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) and Pittsburgh Steelers owner Dan Rooney walk to a photo op, after Obama spoke to the Alliance for American Manufacturing on the challenges facing manufacturers in the U.S., in Pittsburgh, Pa., April 14, 2008. Rooney endorsed Obama this morning. (Reuters)

By Perry Bacon Jr.
PITTSBURGH -- Campaigning in Indiana on Saturday, Hillary Clinton downed a shot of whiskey at a bar as her supporters cheered. Today, her rival took a less literal shot of his own at a forum in Pittsburgh on manufacturing.

"Around election time, the candidates can't do enough for you," Barack Obama told a crowd of several hundred here. "They'll promise you anything, give you a long list of proposals and even come around, with TV crews in tow, to throw back a shot and a beer."

"But if those same candidates are taking millions of dollars in contributions from the PACs and lobbyists" he continued, "ask yourself, who are they going to be toasting once the election is over?"

Obama's speech, at an event hosted by the United Steelworkers, differed little from the themes Clinton has articulated on manufacturing issues: criticism of China for not opening up its markets sufficiently for U.S. goods, opposition to free trade agreements like the North American Free Trade Agreement and attacks on U.S. companies who ship jobs overseas.

But Obama said he would be a stronger advocate for U.S. workers because he does not take money from lobbyists, meaning he would more readily favor employees over large corporations if their interests collide.

"The fact that I don't know owe them anything ... they didn't get me to where I am, you did, means you can count on me," Obama said. (As The Post noted last week, Obama, particularly at the start of his candidacy, actively courted and won many big donors who were important to establishing him as a rival to Clinton.)

He continued his criticism of the Clinton administration for its backing of trade deals. Clinton has done the same, but Obama implied this is less than genuine. (As The Post's Michael Fletcher wrote last week week, in many ways both candidates are wrong; most economists say NAFTA has been a net benefit for the economy.)

"You can't spend the better part of two decades campaigning for NAFTA and [permanent normal trade relations] for China, and then come here to Pennsylvania, and tell the Steelworkers you've been with them all along," Obama said. "You can't say you are opposed to the Colombia trade deal, while your key strategist is working for the Colombian government to get the deal passed."

Neither candidate's rhetoric on trade has been perfectly in line with their current ardent opposition. Clinton attended meetings in the White House in the 1990s to rally support for NAFTA; Clinton's top two political advisers for most of her campaign, former chief strategist Mark Penn and her husband, the former president, have both backed the trade agreement with Colombia that she opposes. And Canadian officials said that one of Obama's top economic advisers implied the Illinois Senator's anti-trade talk was merely political rhetoric.

"Not every job that has left is coming back. And not every job lost is due to trade -- automation has made plants more efficient so they can make the same amount of steel with few workers. These are the realities," Obama said. "I also don't oppose all trade deals. I voted for two of them because they have the worker and environmental agreements I believe in. Some of you disagreed with me on this, but I did what I thought was right."

By Web Politics Editor  |  April 14, 2008; 11:21 AM ET
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Next: McCain Calls Obama's Comments 'Elitist'


Judicial Watch calls on FEC to investigate Elton John fundraiser for Hillary

"Sir Elton John is not a citizen of the United States and is therefore prohibited from making any contribution to Senator Clinton's presidential campaign."

I am sure Clinton will lie and say she didn't know that.

Posted by: Mike Brown | April 15, 2008 4:23 AM | Report abuse

Can anyone honestly say they are prepared to trust and unleash Bill around a fresh batch of White house interns?

Posted by: Hillarwinsky | April 15, 2008 4:18 AM | Report abuse

That's right Senator Obama. The Clintons will promise anything to get what they want. They and their surrogates(look at Penn) have been busy promising things to the Chinese, Colombian, Mexicans and who knows?

Anybody who knows the a b c of economics can tell it is the Clintons who began to sell out Coporate America to China. Why do you think the Fox News which is owned by Rupert Murdoch, who is married to a Chinese, is trying sooo hard for Clinton to win ? You should wonder why.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 15, 2008 3:54 AM | Report abuse

How can Elton John give HIllary $2.5 million when according to 2 U.S.C. § 441e, "Contributions and donations by foreign nationals," it is illegal for any foreign national to "make a contribution or donation of money or other thing of connection with a Federal, State or local election." The Washington Times reported March 27, 2008, that a "1981 FEC decision prohibited a foreign national artist from donating his services in connection with fundraising for a U.S. Senate campaign."

Posted by: Anonymous | April 15, 2008 3:52 AM | Report abuse

Will HIllary denounce the Pope and boycott his visit to the U.S.A. due to his Anti-Gay and Anti-Abortion stances which she so strongly believes in. Will she ask for Women priests and equal woman's rights in the Catholic church. Why is it, only Blacks are held responsible for what Black religious leaders say?
Obama mis-spoke ... Hillary LIED !!!

Posted by: Mike Brown | April 15, 2008 3:36 AM | Report abuse

I call upon HIllary to denounce the Pope and boycott his visit to the U.S.A. due to his Anti-Gay and Anti-Abortion stances. Sounds ridiculas? Why is it then, that every Black leader is called upon to denounce the Farrakhans and Rev. Wrights as well as be held responsible for what another Black person says? Enough of this double standard already.

Posted by: Mike Brown | April 15, 2008 3:24 AM | Report abuse

Wow, imagine that: Accusing politicians of promising ANYTHING to voters.

Uh, yeah, Mr. Obama I think that's why it's called politics.

Why is this news?

Posted by: Duh | April 14, 2008 5:14 PM | Report abuse

RE: "This 3-ring circus is hilarious. None of the so called front runners are worthy of anyones vote for president. It doesn't matter if your a Republican or Democrat. There is absolutly nothing there to vote for. "

Apathy creates inferiority. The focus ought to be to find the best solution - vs. a useless default position that requires no effort. This comment serves no constructive purpose. A vote for no one is a default vote for the winner.

Why log in and comment that the best answer is nothing. That is further from reality than any of the candidates misstatements. One of these candidates will almost certainly be the next president. There is a website out there for apathetic voters - but it is so typically American to complain about what is, but not be willing to do anything about it.

Regardless, Obama is even willing to hear your voice and give you an honest response. Hillary and McCain only care if you fit a special interest group, or demographic that they are targeting.

Posted by: DonJulio | April 14, 2008 3:51 PM | Report abuse

Barack is right...since when did telling the truth... become a bad thing. Hillary has promised so many people so many's ridiculous. Her attempt at the Faith Forum last night to push the "bitter" comment.... was deplorable. She's shameless and will do anything and say anything to win. She will NEVER get my vote.

Posted by: Dian | April 14, 2008 2:17 PM | Report abuse

Hillary Clinton '08


When it comes to poverty I know what I'm talking about. See, its not on my website or in my book because I don't like to boast, but I was on the board of Walmart for six years. No company has done more to advance the cause of poverty around the world than Walmart and who better to get people out of poverty than the people that put them there in the first place. [flash strained smile]

Hillary Clinton! She's in this for you!

Solutions for the American Corporation

Posted by: UncleRemus | April 14, 2008 2:00 PM | Report abuse

Polls, schmolls. These poll results change every time someone sneezes. The only relevant poll will take place on April 22, 2008. A thousand more [insert-scandal-name-here]-gates will have come and gone before Next Tuesday.

Posted by: Poll My Finger | April 14, 2008 1:53 PM | Report abuse

April 9, 2008 -- A new InsiderAdvantage/Majority Opinion poll shows Sen. Hillary Clinton regaining some ground she'd previously lost to Sen. Barack Obama in the Pennsylvania Democratic presidential primary race.

Here are the results of our new poll:

Clinton 48%
Obama 38%
Undecided 13%*

Posted by: Anonymous | April 14, 2008 1:38 PM | Report abuse

Obama has some nerve accusing his rivals of taking money from special interests. When is the MSM going to call him on his fundraising lies? He claims to get the majority of his money from small donors, but a visit to the FEC website disputes that. Instead of taking money from PACs, he has tens of thousands of coporate lobbyists and shills donating $2300 each.

A visit to this website is also an eye-opener.

This man is the biggest phony that ever hit the political arena.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 14, 2008 1:35 PM | Report abuse

And Barrack won't say anything to get elected? Calling his grandmother a racist wasn't sufficient?

Posted by: DCDave | April 14, 2008 1:31 PM | Report abuse

OK, all you poll watchers: Obama has INCREASED his lead over Clinton in the past 2 days since his "bitter" comments:

Obama: 50%
Clinton: 40%

So much for Clinton's attempt to knock out Obama... a swing and a miss.

Posted by: egc52556 | April 14, 2008 1:18 PM | Report abuse

I thought the purpose of the comments section was to comment on the article. Not for the keyboard warriors to fight their battles!

Posted by: Morris | April 14, 2008 1:15 PM | Report abuse

"Obama is now getting frantic. What happened to his golden toungue and calm demeanor. Now he has really resorted to attacks and name calling. Maybe he should throw back a shot and a beer. Oh wait, that's for us "bitter" working class. We spend our lives shooting our guns, going to church and hating everyone not like us. Not like Mr. Obama who regularly attends church and listens to Reverend Wrights sermons on brotherly love, fellowship and compassion, not vile, hatefilled and unamerican in the least. What a charlatan!"

you are a tool, way to take it way out of context. I love how repubs and hillary supporters (why do these 2 go hand in hand so well..?) totally take what he said out of context.

Posted by: ... | April 14, 2008 1:05 PM | Report abuse

This 3-ring circus is hilarious. None of the so called front runners are worthy of anyones vote for president. It doesn't matter if your a Republican or Democrat. There is absolutly nothing there to vote for. You would think after eight years of the Bush Syndicate, that people would have learned their lesson. Apparently not. Bitter? No. A realist. All three of these clowns will just continue where Bush left off.

Posted by: Lost_All_Hope | April 14, 2008 1:01 PM | Report abuse

All you need to know of Hillary and her support for working class Americans is captured on tape when she was on the Baord of Wal Mart. As Wal Mart labor relations attorney ripped labor left and right, called them blood sucking pigs etc., Hillary, the supposed champion of Pennsylvania workers sat quietly and never voiced her displeasure and dd not leave the Wal Mart Board becaause of it. Unlike what she thinks, we do not owe her the Presidency of the United States and she is not protecting the Democratic Party from certain defeat in the Fall. Go away Billary, we have had enough of your lies!!!

Posted by: US Citizen | April 14, 2008 12:54 PM | Report abuse

Obama has been promising everything & anything to everybody & anybody.

"We Want Change".."We Can Do It" ..."Yes We Can"...All bluff and no substance. Only kids brought up on Barney can fall for his slick empty slogans.

Posted by: Dr. Dave | April 14, 2008 12:53 PM | Report abuse

Hillary lies. McCain deson't know his you know what from his elbow when it comes to economics or sunnis and shiites.

That isn't news.


Posted by: jeffp | April 14, 2008 12:44 PM | Report abuse

All this flap over what Obama said about people being bitter is ridicuous. And the media is mostly at fault for incomplete reporting and not presenting the word of Obama in context. Instead, the media is promoting the distorted comments of Clinton and McCain. The media will do anything for sensationalism including being a party of a lynch mob. Obama has clarified his statement and what he said is correct even if he didn't choose the best words. At least he didn't lie about being shot at in Bosnia and could very well have been fatigued from the rigors of the campaign when he "misspoke."

The media should be ashamed of its self for not being professional and responsible, knowing they sway the minds of people. How about the truth; unadulterated truth; for a change. And how about some reporting on the fraud charges against the Clintons in California?

Posted by: zoots | April 14, 2008 12:44 PM | Report abuse

On the one hand, I'm glad to see Obama breathe a little fire himself. On the other, I am sorry that the campaign environment requires it.

I really don't want to see him meet her on her level, which for my money is corrupt and worse than dishonest. The dishonesty is all strategic, which makes it a conscious choice, which means it is worse than "I misspoke."

No, it is more like if I say this lie loud and long enough it will destroy you. Really! That's what Obama's not. But he's definitely getting slimed by it.

Posted by: Gaias Child | April 14, 2008 12:42 PM | Report abuse

If Hillary's employer fired her way back when, and would not give her a recomendation,what does that say about her character,This lady has not changed at all she has just gotten shrewder.
Hillary's supporters are a manfestation of our moral and value system that has gone down the tube.
Even when caught in a bald faced lie, Hillary's supporters are still defending her,claiming that she is the best one to run this country.
I wonder if her people mean that she is the best liar they have ever seen so she should be president.

Posted by: DM,CA. | April 14, 2008 12:41 PM | Report abuse

If I had to swig a shot of Hillary's Kool-Aid, sip from McCain's Prune Juice, or take some tough medicine in Obama's prescription for Americans to join in, pull up our bootstraps and participate in creating the change we all desire, then I will drink up his dose of reality every time.

Obama has come from hardship and adversity to build a successful life for himself, while many of us are content to sit on the couch and become armchair commentators. He's motivated all of us to respond here - dialogue is a big part of his program.

Posted by: DonJulio | April 14, 2008 12:41 PM | Report abuse

Obama is feeding people crap.

According to the WSJ "Mr. Obama has also made much of his campaign's pledge not to accept money from political action committees, raising the majority of his funds from small private donations. PACs typically make up less than 1% of overall election donations to Presidential candidates, so that's no sacrifice."

He's got a world class bundling operation set up to handle the significant contributions from his corporate donors. Find out more at

In addition, he has collected far more than his competitors from corporations in several industries. From the WSJ April 11:
"Industry PACs may not give directly to his campaign, but employees of industries may do so, and many of his contributors have come from executives and their spouses. For example, Mr. Obama leads all candidates in donations from the pharmaceutical industry and commercial banks, among other industries. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks fundraising in elections, Mr. Obama has received $528,765 from people in the pharmaceutical industry and $1,380,108 from commercial banks. He comes in second to Mrs. Clinton in donations from lawyers with $13,690,170, just over a million shy of her total."

Guess he's thinking that typical, bitter people don't read the papers.

Posted by: typical white woman | April 14, 2008 12:41 PM | Report abuse

Obama is now getting frantic. What happened to his golden toungue and calm demeanor. Now he has really resorted to attacks and name calling. Maybe he should throw back a shot and a beer. Oh wait, that's for us "bitter" working class. We spend our lives shooting our guns, going to church and hating everyone not like us. Not like Mr. Obama who regularly attends church and listens to Reverend Wrights sermons on brotherly love, fellowship and compassion, not vile, hatefilled and unamerican in the least. What a charlatan!

Posted by: willygoo46 | April 14, 2008 12:38 PM | Report abuse

This guy is a tool. Like he does not say stuff people want to hear? He is a politician jus like the rest of them...
It is becoming more and more apparent the disdain Obama and his wife have for their country and their fellow Americans...whom he wants to lead.

How many more "misspoken" words must be heard before people get the message... They don't think much of us.

Hillary 08
Keep drinking the Obama kool aid Obamadrones.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 14, 2008 12:38 PM | Report abuse

That stupid Nafta dustup was disputed -in writing-by Goolsbee, AND the freakin' Canadian Governmnet!!!

Wash. Post, why are you still pushing a debunked story?

Posted by: julieds | April 14, 2008 12:35 PM | Report abuse

The latest poll from Pennsyvania was released this morning and it shows Clinton up 20% on Obama, a huge swing from last week's poll. Full analysis and numbers:

Posted by: Daniel | April 14, 2008 12:33 PM | Report abuse

Hillary misleads voters. Hillary Clinton has made statements unequivocally trumpeting NAFTA as the greatest thing since sliced bread. The Buffalo News reports that back in 1998, Clinton attended the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, and praised corporations for mounting "a very effective business effort in the U.S. on behalf of NAFTA." Yes, you read that right: She traveled to Davos to thank corporate interests for their campaign ramming NAFTA through Congress. On November 1, 1996, United Press International reported that on a trip to Brownsville, Texas, Clinton "touted the president's support for the North American Free Trade Agreement, saying it would reap widespread benefits in the region." The Associated Press followed up the next day noting that Hillary Clinton touted the fact that "the president would continue to support economic growth in South Texas through initiatives such as the North American Free Trade Agreement." In her memoir, Clinton wrote, "Senator Dole was genuinely interested in health care reform but wanted to run for president in 1996. He couldn't hand incumbent Bill Clinton any more legislative victories, particularly after Bill's successes on the budget, the Brady bill and NAFTA."

Who is the elitist? Hillary cares more about the health care industry than the health of people. Nobody can argue that the biggest problem with health care in the United States are pharmaceuticals and insurers. Hillary Clinton became the second largest recipient in the Senate of health care industry contributions. "As she runs for re-election to the Senate from New York this year and lays the groundwork for a possible presidential bid in 2008, Mrs. Clinton is receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from doctors, hospitals, drug manufacturers and insurers. Nationwide, she is the No. 2 recipient of donations from the industry, trailing only Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, a member of the Republican leadership." Raymond Hernandez and Robert Pear, "Once an Enemy, Health Industry Warms to Clinton," New York Times, July 12, 2006. Lastly, her vote for the Iraq war was the greatest error in judgement for the health of thousands of U.S. men and women in uniform. Not to mention the health of millions of Iraqis.

Posted by: Matt | April 14, 2008 12:20 PM | Report abuse

Because of attacts such as these and the millions of adds Obama is spending Hillary has all the right in the world to defend herself. When Obama spewed his condescending remarks to all those millionaires in San Francisco he directly accused the Clinton administration for "small town folks" clinging to religion and guns. If he accuses the Clinton years as the reason for their bitterness then why shouldn't Hillary strike back? WHY? She kept quiet when the Wright controversy erupted. She made only one comment. "Wright would not be my pastor." That was it. But this "bitter/clinging" issue is pure politics, it's about policy, honesty. Its goes straight to the reason why democrats have lost the last two elections. It is fair to argue Obama's condescension to the small town folk because it goes directly to issues like religion, xenophobia, gun ownership and culture.

Posted by: Floridian Lady | April 14, 2008 12:20 PM | Report abuse

Wow, a candidate that actually tells it like it is. Never thought I'd see that.

Hillary's resume is amazing. A regular super-hero. lol, after she loses, she can join the Hall of Justice with Superman and the Green Lantern.

Posted by: Pete | April 14, 2008 12:20 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Bacon,

If you are going to mention that Canadian officials said that one of Sen. Obama's political officials met with Canadians about NAFTA please present both sides of the argument. Your article is misleading, if you don' mention that the said Canadian official later said that it was the Clinton campaign that called the Canadian Government and said to take their rhetoric with a grain of salt. It has came out and been reportedly on repeatedly. Your failing to report fair is another case of media basis for self interest of keeping this story and confrontation alive in this primary.

Please report the story fairly or not at all.

Posted by: Walter | April 14, 2008 11:52 AM | Report abuse

Right, as long as you keep your campaign promises as VAGUE as possible, with no concrete proposals, or copy your proposals on what is already put there, its OK.

"Change" and "hope" resonates well for his campaign since they are both really vague terms, and he has no plans on how to accomplish it, regardless of the fact he has no experience in working with Republicans on anything of substance, right Barak?

Posted by: Vic | April 14, 2008 11:42 AM | Report abuse

Obama does take money from PACs, etc. He just gets them to donate it through bundlers so he can find some reason to bash his opponents.

And it's safe for the man with no political history or experience to criticize his far more experienced opponents for their past records. He has no real record because he's a) inexperienced and b) has refused to vote on so many issues. Of course, he doesn't want to be called out on his 20 year record of being mentored by Rev. Wright.

Meanwhile, his supporters grow ever more bitter that the rest of America isn't ready to just hand him the presidency because he's got the audacity to want it, even though he doesn't have the experience or ability to handle it.

Posted by: Lynn | April 14, 2008 11:40 AM | Report abuse


The man is so slimy, he's part eel

Posted by: trey | April 14, 2008 11:38 AM | Report abuse

So now Hillary is a drinker. What is next? a farmer? She makes me sick.

Posted by: silverspring | April 14, 2008 11:24 AM | Report abuse

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