HENDERSON, Nev. — The legacy of Ronald Reagan was invoked in the Democratic nominating race on Thursday when John Edwards attacked Senator Barack Obama for remarks he made to a Nevada newspaper suggesting praise for Reagan
Mr. Obama made the comments in an interview with the editorial board of the newspaper, The Reno Gazette-Journal. He said Reagan had “changed the trajectory of America in a way that, you know, Richard Nixon did not and in a way that Bill Clinton did not.”
“He tapped into what people were already feeling, which was, ‘We want clarity, we want optimism, we want, you know, a return to that sense of dynamism and entrepreneurship that had been missing,’ ” Mr. Obama, of Illinois, said.
Speaking at an event on Thursday, Mr. Edwards told the crowd that Mr. Obama used Reagan “as an example of change,” a description with which Mr. Edwards strongly disagreed.
“When you think about what Ronald Reagan did to the American people, to the middle class, to the working people,” Mr. Edwards said, adding that Reagan was intolerant of unions and the labor movement, he “created a tax structure that favored the very wealthiest Americans and caused the middle class and working people to struggle every single day.”The remarks were made as Mr. Edwards tried to be heard in a race that has increasingly focused on the winners of the two Democratic contests so far, Mr. Obama in Iowa and Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton in New Hampshire.
“This president will never use Ronald Reagan as an example for change,” Mr. Edwards added, referring to himself.
Bill Burton, a spokesman for Mr. Obama, said Mr. Edwards was mischaracterizing Mr. Obama’s remarks.
“Obviously, Obama strongly disagreed with a lot of what Ronald Reagan did,” Mr. Burton said. “He was simply acknowledging Reagan’s ability to change the political landscape.”
Mr. Edwards has been campaigning heavily in Nevada this week, but is not running television commercials as he marshals resources for later contests. The state’s caucuses will be held on Saturday.
On Friday, he will depart on a tour to include Oklahoma, Missouri, Georgia and South Carolina, among the next states to vote.