KEOKUK, IOWA -- Barack Obama often says that his opponents think he is a "nice guy" but he's now showing his other side. At events in Burlington, Ft. Madison, and Keokuk, Obama has been quick to name names and go after both Democrats and Republicans.
"There's one Democrat who beats every Republican potential opponent and that's me," Obama said while addressing the issue of electability. He says polls show that he can beat all of the Republican nominees. "I beat Giuliani, I beat McCain, I beat Thompson, I beat Huckabee, I beat who ever else they are planning to throw at me, Giuliani, I beat 'em."
Obama said his Democratic opponents do not fare as well as he does when pitted against the Republicans in hypothetical matchups. In Fort Madison he prefaced his argument with an "I want to be fair." However in Keokuk, Obama cited what he believes are problems with his opponents.
"Part of the problem that John [Edwards] would have in the general election is that the issues that he's talking about now are not the issues or the things that he said four years ago, which always causes us problems in general elections."
"And Senator [Hillary] Clinton doesn't beat all five of them because you start off with half of the country not wanting to vote for her"
As the January 3rd caucuses approach, Obama is making a more concerted effort to distinguish himself from Clinton and, particularly, Edwards. Obama's tone is more populist than it has been in the past and the issue of lobbyists is at the forefront of his message.
"I am the only candidate in this race who has actually done something to take power away from lobbyists," Obama argues. "It's very important for all of you as you are making decisions in these last few days to ask yourself, where have people been not just what they say on the campaign trail."
Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick is campaigning with Obama today. While speaking to reporters on the press bus, Patrick said he understands the issues that Obama is coming up against.
On race, Patrick said he believes that race will not overshadow Obama's campaign. "The hunger for a positive campaign and a fresh direction will overcome those issues," Patrick, an African-American, said.
"We get the government we deserve, we get the leadership we deserve," Patrick added.
"And if we want change we can bring that change but it's not going to be up to a candidate or a campaign, it's going to be up to individual voters taking a chance on their own aspirations."