A new television ad released Friday by the campaign of Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., uses excerpts from a well-received November speech by the candidate in which he attacked corporate lobbyists.
But the campaign notably excised from the excerpt one mid-sentence clause in which Obama promised to ban lobbyists from working in his White House -- a pledge the Illinois Democrat seemed to have backed off from earlier this month.
The ommission, first reported by ABC News Saturday morning, provided an opportunity for Obama's rival, former Sen. John Edwards, D-N.C., to make that very pledge to ban lobbyists from working in his White House on Saturday afternoon.
The Obama campaign insisted the cut was made purely for time, and not because the senator had been called out on over-reaching rhetoric.
"It was a 30-minute speech and a 60-second ad, so of course we had to make cuts," Obama spokesman Bill Burton said. "Sen. Obama has the strongest record and the furthest reaching proposals when it comes to curbing the influence of special interests and lobbyists of any candidate in this race."
By making that cut, however, the Obama campaign, in the last week before the crucial Jan. 3 Iowa caucuses, risks focusing attention on an issue that can be used to portray the senator as just another politician.
After the ommission was reported on ABCNews.com, Edwards pounced. Sensing an opportunity to differentiate himself from Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., and in particular from Obama, with whom he is competing for Iowa caucus-goers, Edwards called a press conference in which he made the pledge Obama seemed to have backed away from.
"When I'm president of the United States, corporate lobbyists or anyone who has lobbied for a foreign government will not be permitted to work in my White House," Edwards said. "And this is a continuation of my belief that we need to reduce the influence of special interests and lobbyists, which I believed the entire time I've been in pubic life."
On Nov. 11, Obama delivered a rousing address at the Iowa Democratic Party's annual Jefferson-Jackson Speech in Des Moines, Iowa, a stem winder that seemed to revitalize what had seemed to some political observers to have become a campaign in need of a jolt.
"I am in this race to tell the corporate lobbyists that their days of setting the agenda in Washington are over," Obama said, bringing the crowd to its feet.
"I have done more than any other candidate in this race to take on lobbyists -- and I have won. They have not funded my campaign, they will not get a job in my White House, and they will not drown out the voices of the American people when I am president."
That entire section of the speech except for the words "they will not get a job in my White House" is included in the new campaign ad. The ad also includes other parts of that address.
The excising of the clause comes two weeks after Obama took some heat for having told crowds that lobbyists "won't work" in his White House when his actual proposal on lobbying reform is far more permissive, disallowing for two years a lobbyist for a specific industry to work at the White House on contracts or regulations pertaining to that industry.