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Obama, McCain camp trade barbs over issue of lobbyists

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May 22, 2008

As John McCain hammers Barack Obama daily on his willingness to talk to leaders of objectionable regimes, Obama is hitting back on McCain and lobbyists in the upper reaches of his campaign.

"We need a president who sees the government not as a tool to enrich friends and high-priced lobbyists, but as the defender of fairness and opportunity for every American," Obama said at a rally yesterday in Tampa.

He said that McCain proposed a bill a decade ago to ban a candidate from paying registered lobbyists, but now has "hired some of the biggest lobbyists in Washington to run his campaign."

"And when he was called on it, his top lobbyists actually had the nerve to say, 'The American people won't care about this.' Well, I think the American people do care about it and I know they have a clear choice in this election," Obama continued.

McCain has forced out several top campaign officials who were also lobbying and also put in place a new conflict of interest policy for his campaign.

But USA Today reported yesterday that as recently as last November, McCain's top foreign policy advisor, Randy Scheunemann, was lobbying McCain's Senate office on behalf of the republic of Georgia at the same time he was working for the campaign.

Tucker Bounds, a McCain campaign spokesman, responded to Obama: "Despite his own campaign's ties to lobbyists, nothing comes between Barack Obama and a partisan political attack. . . . It's absurd, despite his own rhetoric, Senator Obama still refuses to disclose the list of lobbyists advising his campaign."

FOON RHEE

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