June 14, 2004
Ryan is already hitting him on taxes and guns, contending Obama has supported huge tax increases on businesses, turned his back on gun owners and espoused other views that are far too liberal for Illinois. […]A voting record is generally a two-edged sword: on the one hand it does hold Obama accountable to various political positions that could be unpopular, but on the other it reminds us that he has a record, and that Ryan has no similar experience. But I have to believe that in this race, the latter edge is a lot sharper than the former. Primary voters rewarded Obama in large part for being the candidate who has skin in every deal, putting his political life at risk to take the stances he believes in. It demonstrates his integrity. It establishes trust with the voter. "Hypocrite" or "flip-flopper" are not words you'll hear anyone use to describe Obama. How can Ryan prove to Illinoisians that he's a man of his word, that he's a politician who will put his constituents interests above his own? To what record can he point?
Obama acknowledges he has had to make some tough decisions on measures that may go over well in his inner-city legislative district but not elsewhere. But he says he has tried to maintain a consistent voting record — something Ryan, a political newcomer, hasn't dealt with.
"I think it's one of the things that differentiates me from Mr. Ryan, who can say a lot of things but isn't accountable for anything he says," Obama said. "Nothing's easier than standing on the sidelines and trying to score cheap political points."
This race is not a referendum on Obama's voting record, because he's not the incumbent U.S. Senator. This race is about who is more qualified to legislate for the interests of Illinois. Ryan's campaign will have to work very hard to convince the undecided that he deserves this distinction more than Obama.