Obama Ad Omits Lobbyist Reference

Obama's latest ad raises questions about the candidate's position on lobbyists.

ByABC News
December 29, 2007, 9:49 AM

Dec. 29, 2007 — -- 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."