Senator Clinton silenced a room of approximately one thousand progressive bloggers and activists Saturday when she told a crowd at the annual YearlyKos convention, "Yes I will" continue to accept money from lobbyists. Lobbyists, Clinton argued, "represent real Americans."
Senator Clinton's admission came during a raucous debate on the subject that started with Senator John Edwards' challenge to Democrats and Republicans to stop accepting money from lobbyists. Senator Edwards had shouted earlier to loud applause, "Your money is no good here, and we're not going to take it anymore." The Edwards campaign issued a press release immediately after the challenge, emphasizing that the Senator is the only presidential candidate who has not taken money from federal lobbyists or political action committees.
Senator Clinton's rivals were quick to jump on her admission. Senator Obama, whose campaign has returned lobbyists' money and committed to not accepting additional donations, said, "I disagree that lobbyists don't have disproportionate influence." They are spending money, Obama stated, because "they have an agenda." Senator Obama has been criticized recently for contradicting his rhetoric by taking money from lobbyists in the past.
Senator Edwards asked the audience members to raise their hands if they have a Washington lobbyist working for them. Only three hands were seen to rise.
Senator Clinton tried to clarify her statement by asking the audience to look at her history. "I don't think that based on my 35 years fighting for what I believe in, that anybody thinks I'm going to be influenced by a lobbyist." And in a reference to the pressure put on YearlyKos political attendees and sponsors, Senator Clinton ended her explanation by saying, "This gives us a real sense of reality with my being here."