While Iowans struggle with health costs, outside groups are spending millions to stop change, including false attacks on Barack Obama's health plan. But experts say Obama's plan is "the best." It "guarantees coverage for all Americans."
Putting "pressure on insurance and drug companies," his plan cuts costs more than any other - saving twenty five hundred dollars for the typical family.
The same old Washington politics won't fix healthcare. But we can.
America is listening. Not just Democrats, but Republicans and Independents who've lost trust in their government but want to believe again.
I am in this race to tell the corporate lobbyists that their days of setting the agenda in Washington are over.
I have done more than any other candidate in this race to take on the lobbyists, and I have won. They have not funded my campaign, and they will not drown out the voices of the American people when I am president.
I am in this race to take those tax breaks away from companies that are moving jobs overseas and put them in the pockets of hard-working Americans who deserve them.
I want to stop talking about the outrage of 47 million Americans without healthcare and start actually doing something about it.
That's why I'm running, Iowa.
Your future is our future, and our moment is now.
In the closing days of the Iowa presidential campaign, Barack Obama is walking a strategic tightrope, highlighting his upbeat message of ending political bickering -- while stepping up attacks on his principal rivals.
"It's a very fine line to walk," says David Axelrod, chief political strategist for the Illinois Democratic senator. "We don't want to get rolled by anyone but on the other hand, we don't want to get bogged down in extraneous arguments."
When he takes his jabs, Mr. Obama rarely calls out his targets by name. But it is clear he is intent on casting John Edwards, and particularly Hillary Clinton, as inflexible, establishment candidates who don't have the capacity to end the internecine sniping that keeps Washington in gridlock.
Iowa voters are famously averse to negative campaigning. They have punished practitioners such as former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, whose rhetoric during the 2004 presidential campaign appeared to crater his high-flying Iowa effort. The Obama camp goes farther: they agree that his campaign of optimism and change -- he often mocks himself in political rallies as a "hope peddler" -- makes him even more vulnerable than rivals.
Obama is laying it all out there. I like that. Bush was never shy about laying it all on the line, and was rewarded for doing so.
As Mr. Obama notes in a sly dig at Mrs. Clinton's "Turn up the Heat!" campaign chant, "There's no shortage of anger or bluster or bitter partisanship out there. We don't need more heat, we need more light."
This strategy of getting in his licks even as he seems to take the high road has become a feature of Mr. Obama's stump rhetoric, especially as Iowa girds for its caucus Thursday. It was on display this past week when Mr. Obama took a shot at the New York senator so subtle that her spokesman felt compelled to point it out, even when most of the media didn't.
"They've been secretive in the past, they'll be secretive as president," Mr. Obama said at a recent rally, without saying who "they" were. "If they haven't been all that strong on lobbyists in the past, [it] doesn't matter what they say in the campaign. They won't be that strong about it when they are president."
To understand the slap, a listener needs to know that Mrs. Clinton is alone among the three frontrunners in directly accepting money from lobbyists, and that she has often been taken to task for the secretive way she handled an abortive effort to fix the nation's health-insurance system when her husband was president.
In an email to reporters, Phil Singer, Mrs. Clinton's national media spokesman, decried Mr. Obama's "negative attacks" during the final sprint in Iowa. He followed it up the next day with an email saying "now is not the time for political attacks, it's time to pick a president who can give us a new beginning in a time of war and a troubled economy."
The Clinton campaign has set up an "Attack Timeline" on its Web site, chronicling reported criticisms from Messrs. Obama and Edwards during the past few months, with a link encouraging readers to contribute to Mrs. Clinton.
The Clinton campaign itself hasn't been averse to what is seen as negative campaigning, raising Mr. Obama's admitted teenage drug use, and criticizing him for everything from his stance on negotiating with enemies such as Cuba and Iran to his presidential ambitions, which the Clinton campaign recently claimed, to much catcalling from political pundits, stretched back to kindergarten.
"I know that some people have been checking my kindergarten papers but I really haven't been plotting that long," Mr. Obama recently told supporters in Nevada, Iowa, prompting sniggers from many in the crowd.
These understated attacks -- Mr. Obama often flashes a mischievous smile when he trots out what have become at least a score of them -- have become an increasing frustration for the Clinton campaign in particular, which has strained in recent weeks to curb its attacks on rivals and present the softer side of its candidate, even as she slips in voter surveys.
One political operative with a rival campaign says she may be taking her cues from internal polling. He said his own campaign's surveys consistently show that many potential Iowa voters view Mrs. Clinton as the source of most of the negative campaigning this political season, far more than the other two frontrunners.
Mr. Edwards, once the most combative candidate in the Democratic field, has also started to temper his attacks. These days, the former North Carolina senator rarely mentions his rivals at all, save for an occasional limp slap at Mr. Obama, who has pledged to reformulate the nation's health-care system with the help of insurance companies and pharmaceutical firms.
Mr. Edwards favors going to war with the industries. In a subtle riposte, Mr. Obama notes that any health-care overhaul will need the support of the insurance industry. They will get a seat at the table, Mr. Obama says, "I just won't let them buy all the seats."
In the closing days, the Obama campaign has stepped up its own criticism of rivals. His campaign manager recently blasted Mr. Edwards and Mrs. Clinton for currying support from independent political committees, asking backers to contribute money to counter the effort. In a chat with reporters, Mr. Axelrod subtly linked the recent assassination of former Pakistan Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto to the vote both Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Edwards cast to authorize the Iraq war, saying the conflict has distracted Washington from the real global threat of Islamic extremism.
And an Obama radio advertisement in heavy rotation in Iowa criticizes Mrs. Clinton for being critical, in particular, for making last-minute attacks on his health-care-overhaul program. Mr. Obama doesn't speak in the ad, other than to say that he approves it.
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