Barack Obama's campaign says the candidate is beyond labels but the senator's critics think they've found one that fits: liberal. The McCain campaign has branded the candidate an "old-style liberal," while the Clintonites say Obama's positions could alienate moderates—and wonder how the candidate National Journal rated as 2007's most liberal senator could be a unifier.
The liberal tag has sunk Democratic hopefuls before—most recently John Kerry—but many think Obama is the right candidate for a race where the old labels don't quite cover the issues. "What's conservative about invading Iraq? What's conservative about a $400 billion deficit?" asked 1988 Democratic nominee Michael Dukakis, also branded with the L-word. "The terms have lost their meaning."