Political reporter Adam Nagourney and anti-Wal-Mart specialist Michael Barbaro team up to cover the Democrat's latest campaign tactic - a coordinated attack on Wal-Mart. After teeing off with Sen. Joe Biden laying into the company at a speech in Des Moines, they continue:
"Among Democrats, Biden is not alone. Across Iowa this week and across much of the country this month, Democratic leaders have found a new rallying cry that many of them say could prove powerful in the midterm elections and into 2008: denouncing Wal-Mart for what they say are substandard wages and health care benefits."
The Times insists on casting the anti-Wal-Mart crusade as a "populist," not a liberal, campaign, even though the Democrats are pushing typical big-government ideas like hiking the minimum wage as part of their solution.
"The focus on Wal-Mart is part of a broader strategy of addressing what Democrats say is general economic anxiety and a growing sense that economic gains of recent years have not benefited the middle class or the working poor.
"Their alliance with the anti-Wal-Mart campaign dovetails with their emphasis in Washington on raising the minimum wage and doing more to make health insurance affordable. It also suggests they will go into the midterm Congressional elections this fall and the 2008 presidential race striking a populist tone.
"Some Democrats expressed concern about the direction the party was heading, saying it could turn back efforts by such party leaders as former President Bill Clinton to erase the image of the party as anti-business and scare off corporations that might be inclined to make contributions.
"Still, what is striking about this campaign is the ideological breadth of the Democrats who have joined in, including some who in the past have warned the party against appearing hostile to business interests."
The text box also claims that there is "An offensive from across the ideological spectrum."
That spectrum apparently spans from unlabeled liberals like Ned Lamont and Sen. Hillary Clinton all the way to...Sen. Evan Bayh of Indiana, whose lifetime American Conservative Union rating of 21 out of 100 isn't all that centrist (by comparison, Sen. Clinton's rating is 9).
"Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York, who was a member of Wal-Mart's board when she lived in Arkansas, the corporation's home state, returned a $5,000 campaign contribution from the company last year. Mrs. Clinton said she did so to protest Wal-Mart's health care benefits, and she has continued to distance herself from the policies of a company she was close to when she was the first lady of Arkansas....'It's not anti-business,' said Senator Evan Bayh of Indiana, a former head of the moderate Democratic Leadership Council, appearing at an anti-Wal-Mart rally on Tuesday. 'Wal-Mart has become emblematic of the anxiety around the country, and the middle-class squeeze.'"