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Edwards says he won't hire lobbyists if elected

From NBC/NJ's Tricia Miller and NBC's Mark Murray
WASHINGTON, IA -- Edwards told a crowd at a library this morning that he would not hire any former corporate or foreign government lobbyists in his administration.

"I want to make an announcement today, which is that when I am president of the United States, no corporate lobbyist or anyone who has lobbied for a foreign government will work in my White House," he said.

Following the town hall, Edwards reiterated to reporters that that means he will not hire anyone who has ever been registered as a federal lobbyist in Washington, DC. He said that would include "people who have lobbied, been registered lobbyists in Washington on behalf of corporate interests at the federal level ... corporate lobbyists, those who've lobbied against the interests of the American people, those who've lobbied on behalf of foreign governments."

Asked whether that would include federal lobbyists who have worked on behalf of interests like labor that he champions, Edwards replied, "This will be a judgment I'll make. But my view is that anybody who has been lobbying on behalf of big corporations are part of the problem, because corporate greed is at the heart and soul of what's stealing the future of our children and what's killing the middle class in our country."

He said his announcement has nothing to do with other candidates' choices. "I think it would be a great thing for America if the other Democrats would commit to the same thing, but this is about my presidency," he said.

In response to these comments, Obama spokesman Bill Burton said, "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 in an attempt to distract attention from the fact that outside groups are exploiting campaign finance loopholes to spend millions of dollars to benefit his campaign. But the truth is, in his six years as a US 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."