In Iowa, a Complicated Threesome, as Edwards Aims at Obama


John Edwards has generally gone easy on Barack Obama. His wife Elizabeth in August did call Obama “holier than thou.” Edwards has gently questioned Obama’s commitment to establishing a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq, and he has wondered aloud about Obama’s willingness to fight special interests and lobbyists, citing Obama’s talk about bringing people together and rising above the political fray. But following a key rule of politics, Edwards has shot most of his arrows at front-running Hillary Clinton. That may be changing.

Obama has taken the lead in the most recent poll in Iowa, a do-or-die state for Edwards, who lags in third place behind Clinton. So today Edwards, who just last week was defending Obama from an Clinton’s mockery, took direct aim at Obama. In a statement, Edwards denounced Obama’s health care plan:

We need true universal health care reform that covers every single man, woman, and child in America. It is wrong to leave anyone without the care they need. A universal system will work better for all of us – delivering better care at lower cost. Barack Obama’s plan leaves out 15 million people. The truth is that some people will choose not to buy insurance even though it’s affordable, knowing that the rest of us will pay for their emergency room visits.

Edwards is jumping into the fight that has been going on between Clinton and Obama regarding their respective health care proposals. It’s not a tremendous blast. But is this a sign that Edwards will be gunning for Obama and that the Democratic race, as the Iowa caucuses approach, will turn into a circular firing squad–which is what’s been happening on the Republican side? In politics, as in much of life, a threesome can get quite complicated.

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  • David Corn

    David Corn is Mother Jones' Washington bureau chief and an on-air analyst for MSNBC. He is the co-author (with Michael Isikoff) of Russian Roulette: The Inside Story of Putin’s War on America and the Election of Donald Trump. He is the author of three New York Times bestsellers, Showdown, Hubris (with Isikoff), and The Lies of George W. Bush, as well as the e-book, 47 Percent: Uncovering the Romney Video that Rocked the 2012 Election. For more of his stories, click here. He's also on Twitter and Facebook.