As John McCain hammers Barack Obama daily on his willingness to talk to leaders of objectionable regimes, Obama is hitting back on McCain and lobbyists in the upper reaches of his campaign.
“Now, we need a president who sees the government not as a tool to enrich friends and high-priced lobbyists, but as the defender of fairness and opportunity for every American," Obama said at a rally today in Tampa, Fla.
He said that McCain proposed a bill a decade ago to ban a candidate from paying registered lobbyists.
“Well, I’ll tell you that John McCain then would be pretty disappointed with John McCain now, because he hired some of the biggest lobbyists in Washington to run his campaign," Obama continued. "And when he was called on it, his top lobbyists actually had the nerve to say, 'The American people won't care about this.' Well, I think the American people do care about it and I know they have a clear choice in this election: we can either have a election in which we are taking on the root causes of special interests dominated politics in Washington or we can ignore the problem and we can wake up four years from now and still be talking about an energy crisis and still be talking about a healthcare crisis and still be talking about a tax code that's not fair to you. I don't want to wake up that way, neither do you.”
McCain has forced out several top campaign officials who were also lobbying and also put in place a new conflict of interest policy for his campaign.
But USA Today reported today that as recently as last November, McCain's top foreign policy advisor, Randy Scheunemann, was lobbying McCain's Senate office on behalf of the republic of Georgia at the same time he was working for the campaign.
Tucker Bounds, a McCain campaign spokesman, responded to Obama: "Despite his own campaign’s ties to lobbyists, nothing comes between Barack Obama and a partisan political attack.
"In Senator Obama’s world, lobbyists can raise money and advise his campaign on policy issues, their families can contribute but supposedly they have no role," Bounds continued. "It’s absurd, despite his own rhetoric, Senator Obama still refuses to disclose the list of lobbyists advising his campaign. What is Senator Obama hiding? John McCain has an unmatched record of fighting the influence of special interests in Washington. The McCain campaign has implemented the strictest policy against lobbyists in presidential campaign history, and we challenge Senator Obama to meet our standard.”
About Political Intelligence
Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.