Edwards Says Voters Want Answers to Hard Questions, Not Planted Ones

Democrat John Edwards said Sunday that voters expect the presidential candidates "to stand in front of them and answer their hard questions," not planted ones.

Edwards' reference was to a recent admission by rival Hillary Rodham Clinton's campaign that an aide gave a question to a Grinnell College student, who was then called on to ask it a recent event in Iowa.

"What George Bush does is plant questions and exclude people from events and I don't think that's what Democrats want to see," he told reporters after a Veterans Day speech.

Edwards said people attending campaign events in states that vote early, like Iowa, "expect you to stand in front of them and answer their hard questions, and they expect it to be an honest process."

In response, Clinton spokesman Mark Daley said the events are open "and Iowans can ask any question of Senator Clinton they want."

Another rival, Chris Dodd, also criticized Clinton's campaign.

"These house parties and town hall meetings, these are terrific vehicles. You've got to sit down and people want to drill down into you," the Connecticut senator said on ABC's "This Week."

"They really want to know your views on various issues. If they discover in a sense that these are orchestrated events, then I think that's going to upset people here," Dodd added.

Edwards said that while New York Sen. Clinton may say voters know where she stands on issues, he does not.

"She says she's for ending the war, but she'd continue combat missions in Iraq. She say she's for standing up to Bush on Iran, but she votes with Bush on the Iranian Revolutionary Guard," he said, referring to a Senate vote designating the group as a terrorist organization.

He also said Clinton gave one answer to a Social Security question in public, and a different response privately shortly afterward.

"I stand and answer questions, and I think that's what presidential candidates are responsible for doing," said Edwards, a former North Carolina senator.

Edwards also had words for rival Barack Obama, who says he is the candidate best suited to unite the parties to solve problems.

"I think it is not realistic to think that these entrenched interests that exist in Washington that have billions and billions of dollars invested in not seeing change are not going to fight for their position." Edwards said. "I think they will, and I think they have to be beaten."

Edwards, Obama and Clinton are in a competitive three-way race in Iowa, which kicks off the presidential nominating season on Jan. 3.

To demonstrate his transparency with voters, Edwards' campaign released an 80-page booklet, "Plan to Build One America," outlining his policy proposals on health care, rural America, trade and the economy, organized labor and immigration reform. A section on foreign policy covers the Iraq war, Sudan and Uganda.

Copies will be distributed to more than 100,000 Iowa caucus-goers during the next few weeks, the campaign said.

"Over the course of the last year, I have offered detailed, honest plans and specific forthright proposals," Edwards told an audience at the State Historical Building. "But I don't want anyone in Iowa to have to take my word for it, so I've gone and put it all on paper ... I'm not afraid to stand here and answer your questions, and to tell you where I stand."