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Out of the closet: John "Stepford" Edwards

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--- Quote ---Edwards Announces Presidential Bid in New Orleans

By Dan Balz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, December 28, 2006; 9:42 AM

NEW ORLEANS, Dec. 28 -- Former North Carolina senator John Edwards officially jumped into the 2008 presidential race this morning in this flood-ravaged city, sounding a populist call for citizen action to reduce the U.S. troop presence in Iraq, combat poverty and global warming and help restore America's moral leadership in the world.

"I'm here to announce I'm a candidate for president of the United States," Edwards told NBC's "Today Show" shortly after 7 a.m. "I've reached my own conclusion this is the best way to serve my country."

Edwards, the Democratic vice presidential nominee in 2004, unveiled his candidacy with a multimedia barrage that symbolized the changing nature of political communication. Using a neighborhood devastated by Hurricane Katrina as his backdrop, Edwards said New Orleans symbolizes not only the theme of two Americas --- haves and have-nots --- that was the underpinning of his 2004 presidential campaign, but also the power of ordinary citizens to take responsibility for their own futures.

His announcement included a YouTube video, an overnight email message to supporters, a round of early morning television interviews and a 9 a.m. session with reporters in New Orleans's badly damaged 9th Ward.

"It's not like we don't know what needs to be done," Edward said during the informal news conference. Standing near a group of youngsters who had worked with him to repair a house, clad in jeans and a dark blue work shirt with a white undershirt peeking out underneath, Edwards called on people throughout the country to conserve resources, fight poverty and get their "hands dirty" in trying to improve their country.

"This is not rocket science. Everyone in America who is listening to me right knows what we need to do," Edwards said. "We can't wait for someone else to do this for us. There is just too much at stake."

From the setting to the words, Edwards is using the day to signal that he intends to run a grassroots, insurgent campaign with an anti-Washington flair. He directly criticized Arizona Sen. John McCain, seen as a leading candidate for the Republican nomination, for recommending that more troops be sent to Iraq to help quell the violence there.

"We need to reject this McCain doctrine of surging troops and escalating the war in Iraq," he said in his campaign video, recorded on Wednesday. "We need to make clear we're going to leave and we need to start leaving Iraq."

Today, Edwards said he thought as many as 40,000 U.S. troops should be quickly withdrawn from Iraq, with the United States pressing Iraq's fragile government to do more to quell violence and launching a broad international effort to secure a diplomatic resolution to the ongoing conflict.

"There is not military solution to whats happening in Iraq right now," Edwards said in an interview with CNN. "We need to tell the truth of how we got there . . . we need to be honest about the situation we have now."

The pre-New Year's announcement highlighted the very early start to the 2008 campaign. Edwards became the third Democrat to announce his candidacy, joining Iowa. Gov. Tom Vilsack and Rep. Dennis Kucinich (Ohio). Edwards picked what is traditionally a slow news week to declare his candidacy, hoping to draw even more attention to what is often a well-scripted ritual totally lacking in suspense. And by moving early, Edwards also avoided being overshadowed later by the anticipated entries of the two Democrats who are generating the most notice -- New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Illinois Sen. Barack Obama.

Both Clinton and Obama have been recruiting staff and consulting with Democratic activists and fundraisers around the country. Neither has made a final decision, but most Democratic strategists believe both are likely to signal their intentions to run sometime in January.

Despite the celebrity appeal of Clinton and Obama, Edwards begins the campaign well-positioned to compete for the nomination. He tops public opinion polls of Democrats in Iowa, which will hold the first caucuses of 2008; retains a base in South Carolina, whose primary he won in 2004; and has built good relationships with organized labor in Nevada, which is scheduled to hold the second caucus next year.

The one question mark among the early states is New Hampshire, which holds the nation's first primary. Edwards finished fourth there in 2004, but aides claim he has improved his standing in the nearly three years since. Another question surrounding Edwards's candidacy is whether he will be able to compete against Clinton and Obama in fundraising.

In his announcements today, Edwards highlighted a series of global and domestic issues and issued a call to action for his supporters. The issues include restoring the nation's moral leadership around the globe, beginning in Iraq with a drawdown of troops; strengthening the middle class and "ending the shame of poverty"; guaranteeing health care for every American; fighting global warming; and ending what he called America's addiction to oil.

"We need to ask Americans to be willing to be patriotic about something beyond war," Edwards said. "Instead of staying home and complaining, we're asking people to help. All of us have so much to contribute. Americans can make a huge difference here."

Edwards said wealthy Americans should lose some of the tax breaks they received from the Bush administration, and all Americans should work to conserve energy, take steps to slow or reverse global warming and volunteer to rebuild New Orleans or otherwise aid the poor.

"That's not just my vision - it's our vision," he said in his email to supporters. "And we can't wait for the next President to take office to begin fundamentally changing our country."

Edwards has been steadily running for president since he and Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) lost to President Bush and Vice President Cheney in 2004. He made his first post-2004 trip to New Hampshire in February 2005. He set up a poverty institute at the University of North Carolina and used the aftermath of Katrina, which exposed the plight of the underclass to the nation, to call for renewed efforts to eliminate poverty.

He sought to strengthen his foreign policy credentials -- a notable weakness in his first campaign -- through the Council on Foreign Relations, and he campaigned around the country for other Democrats and on behalf of minimum wage ballot initiatives, road-testing a populist economic message that proved successful for many House Democratic challengers in the 2006 midterm elections.

Perhaps most significantly, he recanted his original support for the war in Iraq, writing an op-ed column in The Washington Post in which he said of his vote for the 2002 resolution authorizing Bush to go to war: "I was wrong." His new position gives him the opportunity to appeal to the party's anti-war activists, many of whom remain wary of Clinton because of her long support for the war.

Edwards, 53, made millions of dollars as a successful trial lawyer in North Carolina, then entered politics in 1998. He won a Senate seat that year, defeating incumbent Republican Sen. Lauch Faircloth. He established a reputation as a quick study, a shrewd and tough questioner and one of the party's rising stars -- prompting him to run for president after just four years in public life.

His 2004 campaign lagged for most of 2003, but he caught fire in the final weeks before the Iowa caucuses, finishing second to Kerry. He parlayed that success into a victory in South Carolina a few weeks later and became Kerry's last and most significant rival for the nomination.

Edwards's performance in the primaries and his skills as a campaigner earned him a slot on the Democratic ticket, although a number of top Bush advisers said after the election ended that he proved to be a less substantial opponent than they had expected.

Shortly after the 2004 election, Edwards's wife Elizabeth was diagnosed with breast cancer. She underwent treatment and is reported to be in good health, publishing a book that made the best-seller list earlier this fall. Elizabeth Edwards did not join her husband in New Orleans this morning, but she will appear with him at a rally in North Carolina this weekend that concludes his initial tour as candidate for president for the second time.
--- End quote ---


--- Quote ---Tomorrow Begins Today!

This campaign is about each of us taking responsibility for our country's future -- and ensuring America’s greatness in the 21st century.

It is a campaign not just about what we can do in the White House -- but what we can do on the way.

We all must take responsibility and take action now to:

Provide moral leadership in the world
Strengthen our middle class and end poverty
Guarantee universal health care for every American
Lead the fight against global warming
Get America and other countries off our addiction to oil
If we want to live in a moral and just America tomorrow, we cannot wait until the next President is elected to begin to take action.

Tomorrow begins today
--- End quote ---

Oh my god. I used to like this guy!

I like him more now.  Sure, it looks mega-cheesy, but Nawlins was first desecrated by our government (Brown, Bush, etc.).  Anything that brings the current conditions back into the limelight is OK with me. 

These sort of disturbingly heavy-handed photo-ops make me cringe. Could he rescue a kitten from a tree, instead? Or feed a hungry baby? I guess you're right though -- bringing some attention back to N.O. is a good thing. I think it'd be a lot better if he didn't tell the media or bring a photo brigade. Just help out for a few days until someone is, like, "Hey! It's Edwards!" That'd be cooler, even if he intended it to go down that way.

Then again, he was a trial lawyer noted for his dramatic flair in prosecution, winning insane amounts for injuries. So I guess we can expect this sort of theater from him.


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