Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Obama: "I've fought harder against special interests"

Des Moines Register:
Spencer, Ia. — Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama said today he was the most credible champion of curbing special interest influence in Washington.

The Illinois senator directly challenged rival John Edwards for the mantle during a campaign stop in Spencer, during a two-day swing through northwest Iowa.
"Nobody in this race has worked harder and been more successful at reducing the special interests' influence in Washington," than himself, Obama told more than 200 people, including a number of high school students, at Spencer High School.

"Senator Edwards, who is a good guy, he's been talking a lot about 'I'm going to fight the lobbyists and the special interests in Washington,' " Obama said about Edwards, a former North Carolina senator. "Well, the question you have to ask is: Were you fighting for (citizens) when you were in the Senate?"

Obama pointed to campaign disclosure legislation he supported in the Illinois Senate. He also referred to legislation he backed in the U.S. Senate which barred lobbyists from providing meals, gifts or providing transportation to members of Congress. The latter was passed after Edwards left the Senate in 2005.

Edwards has said he would bar corporate lobbyists from talks about health care reform if he were president. He has also criticized Obama for being willing to allow lobbyists from drug and insurance companies to participate in discussions on expanding health care coverage.

"Actually, it's John Edwards who rejected PAC and lobbyist contributions from day one," Edwards campaign spokesman Dan Leistikow said. "He's the only candidate in the race who has never taken a dime of their money. And in the Senate, he took on the lobbyists and special interests head on by leading the charge to pass a patients' bill of rights through the Senate."

Obama has said he would convene public talks with the various groups affected by health care, including medical professionals, hospital administrators, patient advocates and insurance and drug companies.

Obama plans to spend the day in northwest Iowa, with stops also planned in Storm Lake, Cherokee, Le Mars and Sioux City.

He plans to end his 22-city bus tour of Iowa Tuesday in Des Moines.

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