By Sasha Issenberg, Globe Staff
WASHINGTON, Iowa -- As John Edwards and Barack Obama tangle over who would be more successful in ridding the capital of lobbyist influence, Edwards today made a new promise for how he would govern -- and challenged his rivals to do the same.
"No corporate lobbyist or anyone who has lobbied for a foreign government will work in my White House," Edwards told a packed crowd in a small room at a public library here.
Yet the standard would be a looser one than Edwards currently applies to his campaign donors and fund-raisers. The former North Carolina senator proudly announces at the outset of his speeches that he has never taken money from lobbyists or political action committees.
Edwards told reporters afterwards that the rule on White House employment would apply only to those who had been federal lobbyists for corporate interests. When pressed to say how he would separate corporate interests from other causes that retain lobbyists -- including labor unions he often champions -- Edwards said, "This will be a judgment I make."
Obama had been offhandedly making a similar pledge in speeches that lobbyists would not work in his White House, before pulling back. Now he promises only that lobbyists won't "run" the place.