Iowa Tests Appeal of Populism

Will anti-business rhetoric work for Huckabee, Edwards?
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 3, 2008 9:37 AM CST
Supporters reach out to touch Democratic presidential hopeful John Edwards during the last stop of his 36 hour bus tour around Iowa on Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2008 in West Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Evan...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – Tonight's Iowa caucuses are the first test for the aggressively populist message of Mike Huckabee and John Edwards; even if the candidates falter, writes the Wall Street Journal, their stridently anti-business message—"corporate greed is squeezing the middle class," Edwards declared yesterday—has played well in Iowa, and might continue to influence the campaign.

While Edwards' populism is in line with a Democratic tradition, Huckabee's attack on CEO wealth and Wall Street riches represents a challenge to traditionally pro-business Republicans. His proposal of a sales tax to replace the income tax has little respect among economists but has won praise in Iowa. Other candidates are now joining the populist bandwagon: yesterday, Hillary Clinton called Bush the president of "the wealthy and the well-connected."