By Mike Dorning
KEOKUK, Iowa—In the closing weeks of the campaign, Barack Obama has concentrated more on winning over voters wavering between him and John Edwards. On Saturday, Obama grew more pointed in criticism of Edwards as the Illinois senator argued he is the best-equipped agent of change in rallies in small towns across southeastern Iowa.
Obama suggested that the moderate, sunny campaign Edwards waged unsuccessfully for president four years ago undercuts the credibility of the populist campaign he is now waging as a fighter of moneyed special interests.
“Part of the problem John would have in the general election is that the issues he is taking on now are not the issues or the things that he said four years ago, which always causes problems in general elections,” Obama said at a rally in an elementary school gymnasium in Keokuk, Iowa.
Campaigning in Washington, Iowa, Edwards announced that he would bar anyone who has done lobbying work for a corporation or a foreign government from working in his White House. Edwards spokesman Eric Schultz said the ban would apply for lobbying work going back up to five years.
“We will not replace corporate Republicans with corporate Democrats,” Edwards said.
As part of an ethics plan Obama released earlier in the year, he has proposed more limited restrictions on hiring former lobbyists for his White House. Obama has said he would ban White House staff who have lobbied in the prior two years from doing work on regulations or contracts relating to the industries they had represented.
Obama spokesman Bill Burton derided Edwards’ proposal as a last-minute ploy in a statement e-mailed to reporters.
“Early in this campaign, Barack Obama introduced the furthest-reaching lobbying reform proposal of any candidate in this race, and we appreciate that John Edwards is now following his lead," Burton said. "The truth is, in his six years as a U.S. Senator, John Edwards did not propose or accomplish a single thing to reduce the power of lobbyists while Barack Obama passed the most sweeping lobbying reform since Watergate."