From NBC/NJ's Aswini Anburajan
DES MOINES, IA -- Obama this morning questioned whether Edwards really had no influence in preventing a 527 group from advertising on his behalf.
Speaking with reporters, Obama said that if Edwards wanted to, he could use his influence to stop his former campaign manager -- who is now running a 527 backed by the SEIU -- from running pro-Edwards advertisements in Iowa. Starting Wednesday the 26th, Alliance for a New America, will begin running $769,000 in pro-Edwards television advertising across Iowa.
"That this is somebody who worked for John Edwards -- for who knows how many years. He's a good friend and colleague of Edwards who's now running a 527 that's running ads on behalf of John Edwards. You're telling me that he has no influence on him that's just not true," Obama said.
Late in the day yesterday, Edwards' campaign did issue a statement saying that they wanted all 527 advertising stopped.
Asked if this was an indication of Edwards' inability to lead, if he couldn't stop the advertising, Obama said, "Well, you know, he said yesterday he's going to ask him to do it. And my attitude is: If you can't get your former campaign manager and political director to do what you like, then it's going to be hard to get the insurance companies and the drug companies to do what you like."
Obama also pledged to ask any 527s that might advertise on his behalf to discontinue advertising. But he would not pledge to disavow 527 advertising in the general election, saying he didn't want to "endanger the Democratic Party's ability to win races by letting the other side outspend us by two to three million dollars." He did say that if his Republican opponent agree to do so as well, he would abide by the public financing.
Obama today also backtracked on the claim that more foreign policy experts from the Clinton Administration were supporting him rather than Senator Clinton. A list sent out by the Obama campaign had listed 47 former Clinton advisers, while Clinton's list cited 83 -- though some of the names were ambassadors and others who wouldn't ordinarily be classified as foreign policy experts.
"Well, look, this was based on, what I said is "one could make" the argument, that was based on an argument that had been made by James Traub in an article the New York Times. We, I have not done a systematic headcount," he said.
The Traub article that Obama referenced said that there were around 200 current "thinkers" on foreign policy who had worked for the Clinton Administration who were supporting Obama rather than Clinton.