— From NBC/NJ's Tricia Miller
LISBON, Iowa -- In his first event of the day in eastern Iowa, Edwards responded to an attack from Obama. This morning in Oskaloosa, Iowa, Obama criticized Edwards on
the advertising a 527 group run by Edwards' former campaign manager is
running in the first caucus state.
"You've got these
outside groups that are helping out candidates," Obama said, "and it's a way of
getting around the campaign finance laws. So [Edwards] said he's
opposed to them -- we found out today that there is an outside group
spending $750,000, just bought three quarters of a million dollars
worth of television time, and the individual who's running the group
used to be John Edwards' campaign manager. So you can't say yesterday you don't believe in 'em, and
today, you have three-quarters of a million dollars being spent for you."
Nick Baldick, who managed Edwards' 2004 campaign and advised
his current campaign until April 2007, now runs the Service Employees
International Union's 527 branch. Many state chapters of the SEIU have
endorsed Edwards, including the Iowa chapter.
Edwards insisted after his Lisbon town hall he still believes
527s should be banned, adding that he found out about the ads through
the media and is not allowed by law to coordinate with the groups.
"The campaign's not allowed to be involved, I'm not allowed
to be involved," he said. "I found out about this probably after most
of you did, through the news media. I didn't know anything about it."
Edwards avoided questions about whether he would issue a
public appeal to stop the ads and strived to emphasize that he would be
the candidate, who could fight against corporate interests in the White
House. Edwards said the criticism was proof that Obama recognized that
Edwards had the momentum in Iowa.
"First, you know,
I guess he's seeing the same thing on the ground that we're seeing," Edwards said,
"which is why he's started talking about me, which is that we're
Edwards went from Lisbon to Coralville
for another event, but canceled tonight's event in Clinton, Iowa,
because of nasty weather.
*** UPDATE *** Obama campaign responds: "It's not change when you decry the influence of money in politics but
then stay silent when your former campaign manager exploits the biggest
loophole in the law to benefit the Edwards' campaign with millions of
dollars in ads from an unregulated political fund whose donors are
undisclosed. John Edwards can and should call on his former advisor to
stop this effort."