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John Edwards on Principles & Values

2004 Democratic Nominee for Vice President; Former Jr Senator (NC)


Campaigning on equality & ending poverty that King stood for

Q: If Martin Luther King were alive today, why should he endorse you?

A: I met with Martin III in Atlanta and he was very kind about me pushing the single biggest issue--two biggest issues that Dr. King stood for, which are the issues of equality and ending poverty. I’ve been on at least part of his poor people’s campaign. I was in Marks, Mississippi, among other places. I have been pushing this issue as aggressively and as loudly as I possibly can and I will do it as long as I’m alive, because it is central to what I believe. He also worked very hard for the Voting Rights Act and he would look at an America today where almost half of our people don’t vote. They’re disenchanted. They feel disengaged. What we need is a president of the US who actually believes to their core in equality, who’s willing to fight for that equality, who’s willing to do things that may not be politically popular. Fighting to end poverty may not get you any votes, but it is the right thing to do.

Source: 2008 Congressional Black Caucus Democratic debate Jan 21, 2008

Focus on the Iraq War, healthcare, and global warming

I will end the Iraq war, I’ll close Guantanamo, and I’ll begin the process of fighting for health care reform, universal health care, attacking global warming, but none of those things are going to happen unless we have a president who calls on the American people to join together to take this democracy and take this country back. We have a small group of entrenched interests, corporate powers, corporate greed, the wealthiest people in the US who are controlling what’s happening in the democracy.
Source: 2007 Des Moines Register Democratic Debate Dec 13, 2007

Op-Ed: more populist or perhaps more redistributionist

The mainstream press depict Edwards as the Southern New Democrat who left the fold of the Democratic Leadership Council to take up a populist cause. After a day on the New Hampshire campaign trail with Edwards in February, ABC’s Terry Moran declared, “He’s different this time around. In 2004, when he was a relative unknown, Edwards was a cheerful moderate populist.

Now, in what some critics call a convenient conversation to woo liberal Democrats, Edwards is tougher, staking out positions on healthcare, national security, and the environment, much further to the left than he advocated in 2004.

Convenient or not, the idea of Edwards’s “conversion” is buoyed not only by his own rhetoric but also by attacks from conservative critics. “He is a redistributionist, another word for socialist,” Cal Thomas wrote in USA Today. “His populist jargon is nothing but class warfare, the 2007 version.” Statements like these are enough to set progressive hearts beating.

Source: The Contenders, by Laura Flanders, p.117 Nov 11, 2007

Positioning as a populist who stands with struggling masses

Edwards himself seems to like being called a populist. “If the word populist means that I stand with ordinary Americans against powerful interests, the answer’s yes,” he told USA Today, “but that phrase is sometimes used in an old, backward-looking way.” By contrast, his populism is “very forward-looking.”

Thirty years after the Reagan Revolution, when merely talking about the plight of the poor is a novelty, just such modest reforms as Edwards is proposing--raising the minimum wage, extending health insurance, supporting college tuition--may indeed sound almost radical. And Edwards himself may be the closest thing to a populist who has a chance of making it to Super Tuesday with double-digit support.

Edwards’s effort to position himself as the race’s true populist--the man who understands and empathizes with the struggling masses--has gotten a leg up from his own life story.

Source: The Contenders, by Laura Flanders, p.122-125 Nov 11, 2007

Founding member of the Senate New Democrat Coalition

Edwards says he was never a card-carrying member [of the DLC, the centrist Democratic Leadership Council]. But while in Congress, Edwards was a founder of the New Democrat Coalition, itself an affiliate of the DLC, which greeted news of this organization on March 13, 2000 with this statement: “Though US Senators have always played a key role in the DLC and the New Democrat movement, we’re pleased to see that nine senators have taken the formal step of organizing a New Democrat Coalition to work with the existing 64-member NDC in the House.“

In 2002, he was a featured speaker at the DLC’s ”National Conversation“ in New York. He cozied up to the DLC--and implied, through his use of the first person plural, that he was one of them: ”A decade ago, the DLC said we should expand opportunity and demand responsibility. Mr. President, if you’re not going to use that word ‘responsibility,’ we’d like to have it back.“

Source: The Contenders, by Laura Flanders, p.128-129 Nov 11, 2007

The government should help those hit by natural disasters

We’ve lived with this in North Carolina because we’ve been regularly hit by hurricanes, and I’ve spent an awful lot of time in New Orleans. When families are hit by natural disasters, it is for the national community to be there for them. That’s our joint responsibility as a national community to be there for them. It’s absolutely heartbreaking to see what’s happened there. Because this is a perfect example of a government that’s a mess and the American people who are absolutely extraordinary.
Source: 2007 Democratic debate at Drexel University Oct 30, 2007

We can’t negotiate change; must take from those in power

We were out of power in Congress for 13 years. In Nov. 2006, Democrats took over Congress again. I think there was a reason for that. Because the Democrats in Nov. 2006 stood for change. America wants change in the most serious way. And if we become the party of status quo in 2008, that’s a loser. If we maintain the momentum of change, yes, we will win again in 2008. The real question for Democratic caucus-goers & voters across this country is, “Who’s most likely to bring about change?”

I don’t believe you can change this country without taking on entrenched interests in Washington, including lobbyists, that stand between us & the change America needs. And I don’t believe you can do it by sitting at a table, negotiating with them & trying to bring them together. These people will never give away their power voluntarily. We have to take their power away from them. This is what I’ve been doing my whole life, and that is why I believe I am the candidate who can bring change to this country.

Source: 2007 Democratic primary debate on “This Week” Aug 19, 2007

Stand up to hate-mongering by Republicans

Q: When you were the vice presidential nominee in 2004, many gays and lesbians felt that they were being used as scare tactic by the right wing and the Republicans, and that the Democrats didn’t do anything to defend them. Why should the gay community think that it will be defended this time by you?

This is only one area where the right wing uses scare tactics to divide the American people. And the truth is, both in a presidential campaign and in governing, it is so important that we reject this hate-mongering. I have seen hate-mongering with language used when I was growing up in the segregated South. And if you stand quietly by and let it happen, it takes hold, and then people begin to believe it’s okay to use that kind of language, and it’s okay to use hate-mongering to separate us. We have to stand up for what’s right and fair and just, and we have do it with passion and strength. It is bad for America for us to let anybody speaking to the American people use these issues to divide us.

Source: 2007 HRC/LOGO debate on gay issues Aug 9, 2007

Don’t change one group of insiders for different insiders

The fundamental question is, who’s going to bring about the change that has not occurred over the last three or four decades in Washington DC? My belief is we don’t want to change one group of insiders for a different group of insiders. We need to give the power in America back to you and back to working men and women all across this country. And I do not believe we will see the kind of change that we need unless WE begin to lead that change.
Source: 2007 AFL-CIO Democratic primary forum Aug 7, 2007

Doesn’t want your vote if you won’t vote for blacks or women

Q: Editorials about Clinton and Obama never fail to mention the issue of gender and race, respectively. How will you address these critics?

OBAMA: You know, when I’m catching a cab in Manhattan--in the past, I think I’ve given my credentials But let me go to the broader issue here. And that is that race permeates our society. It is still a critical problem.

CLINTON: Well, I couldn’t run as anything other than a woman. I am proud to be running as a woman. And I’m excited that I may be able, finally, to break that hardest of all glass ceilings.

EDWARDS: Anybody who’s considering not voting for Senator Obama because he’s black or for Senator Clinton because she’s a woman, I don’t want their vote. I don’t want them voting for me.

Source: 2007 YouTube Democratic Primary debate, Charleston SC Jul 23, 2007

Doing something about the two Americas is cause of my life

One of the things that I want all of you to know is doing something about the two Americas is the cause of my life. It will be as long as I’m alive and breathing. Not just talking about the problems, but trying to find solutions, so that we can actually have one America that all of us can be proud of, not just one America where everybody does great and another America where everybody struggles.

I’m trying to create a spotlight on the other America, the poverty that exists all around this country. I’m going to start in New Orleans on Monday morning. I’m going to be traveling through MI, through AR. We’re going to travel to KY, to OH, to PA, to VA, because we want America to see the other America that seems to have been forgotten. We want America to understand the struggles that are going on in big cities all over this country, the struggles that are going on in poor rural areas all over this country, and not just to talk about the problems, but to talk about what we can do about it.

Source: 2007 NAACP Presidential Primary Forum Jul 12, 2007

Biggest professional mistake was voting for Iraq War

Q What is the most significant political or professional mistake you have made in the past four years? And what did you learn from this mistake which makes you a better candidate?

A: I was wrong to vote for this war. Unfortunately, I’ll have to live with that forever. And the lesson I learned from it is to put more faith in my own judgment.

Source: 2007 South Carolina Democratic primary debate, on MSNBC Apr 26, 2007

We must fight multiple causes of poverty in US

The causes of poverty are complex, entrenched, and powerful. Our will to address them and restore the promises of equality and social justice must be just as strong. It means addressing education, jobs, health care, housing, predatory lending, and personal responsibility. Stand up to eradicate poverty in America.
Source: Campaign website, johnedwards.com Feb 1, 2007

We need a new spirit of activism and leadership

Former vice presidential nominee John Edwards declared his candidacy Thursday for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination, saying the United States needs a new spirit of activism and leadership for an unstable, chaotic world.

Clad in blue jeans, an open-necked shirt and with his sleeves rolled up, Edwards chose the backyard of a victim of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans’ devastated Ninth Ward for his unorthodox announcement. “We want people in this campaign to actually take action now, not later, not after the next election,“ the former North Carolina senator said, sounding as much like a recruiter as a presidential campaigner.

Edwards, 53, is calling for an increase in community service and cuts in poverty, global warming and troops in Iraq. He also said the country should provide universal health care for all and end its dependence on foreign oil. He said he would tax oil company profits and eliminate President Bush’s tax cuts to pay for his priorities.

Source: Nedra Pickler, Associated Press, in NOLA news Dec 28, 2006

Campaign slogan: “Tomorrow begins today”

Edwards’ campaign got a little ahead of itself Wednesday and announced his intentions online a day early. His Web site briefly featured the logo “John Edwards 08” and its slogan, “Tomorrow begins today”--literally, in this case-- before aides quickly removed them.

In his message to supporters, Edwards listed his priorities to change America. Among them:

Edwards has been working to build his campaign ever since he & John Kerry lost a close race to the Bush-Cheney ticket in 2004. The campaign could pit Edwards against his former partner on the Democratic ticket. Kerry has not said yet whether he will run, nor have other big names like Hillary Clinton & Barack Obama, but Edwards did not wait to find out who will be his competition
Source: Nedra Pickler, Associated Press, in NOLA news Dec 28, 2006

One America PAC about Raising the States

There are two different Americas in our country today - one for those at the top who get everything they want, and another for everybody else who struggles just to get by. John Edwards understands this, and knows that if we want to build one America, we need a change in our country’s leadership.

At the One America Committee, we believe that a Democrat should never lose an election simply because he or she doesn’t have the funds needed to compete. That’s why earlier this year Sen. Edwards launched Raising the States, a grassroots campaign that supports Democrats around the country who are running for state legislature.

It’s clear by now that reforms will not come from the federal level. They must come from the state level. Through Raising the States we put Democrats in a position to push through these much-needed reforms - reforms that would lift millions of Americans out of poverty. Through Raising the States, we put power in the hands of those who will use it for good.

Source: PAC website, www.OneAmericaCommittee.com, “Action” Nov 17, 2006

Maintains PAC, One America Committee

Many experts believe that it is a certainty that John Edwards will run for President again in 2008. Those experts cite Edwards keeping his political action committee, the One America Committee, open and also the fact that Edwards has given many speeches in such key states as Iowa, New Hampshire, and Wisconsin as reason to believe he will be running for President in 2008. Many people view Edwards as one of if not the main contender to go up against early favorite Hillary Clinton, thanks especially to his change of position on the Iraq War. It is believed that Edwards may face Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh, Delaware Sen. Joe Biden, former NATO General Wesley Clark, New York Sen. Hillary Clinton, former South Dakota Sen. Tom Daschle, Connecticut Sen. Christopher Dodd, Wisconsin Sen. Russ Feingold, former running mate John Kerry, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, Iowa Gov.Tom Vilsack, former Virginia Gov. Mark Warner, and possibly others for the Democratic Party nomination.
Source: 2008 speculation in Wikipedia, “2008 Presidential Race” Jun 25, 2006

Take on the special interests to bring about change

I’ve been fighting these people, these irresponsible corporations. There are good corporations and good employers. Costco and AT&T are now working to help unionize some of their offices and to bring jobs back. There are differences between us about how we fight for the future of the middle class. You have to be willing to take on these entrenched special interests. If you’re not willing to do it, it is impossible to bring about the change that the country needs.
Source: 2008 Facebook/WMUR-NH Democratic primary debate Jan 6, 2006

Judge values based upon deeds, not words

Where I come from, you don’t judge someone’s values based upon how they use that word in a political ad. You judge their values based upon what they’ve spent their life doing. When a man volunteers to serve his country and puts his life on the line for others, he represents real American values. He’s prepared to keep the American people safe, to make America stronger at home and more respected in the world. Kerry knows the difference between right & wrong. He wants to serve you. Your cause is his cause
Source: Acceptance speech to the Democratic National Convention Jul 28, 2004

Ensure tomorrow will always be better in our one America

We are Americans and we choose to be inspired. We choose hope over despair, possibilities over problems, optimism over cynicism. We choose to do what’s right even when those around us say, “You can’t do that.” We choose to be inspired because we can do better, because this is America where everything’s still possible. What we believe is that you should never look down on anybody. We should lift people up. We don’t believe in tearing people apart. We believe in bringing them together.
Source: Acceptance speech to the Democratic National Convention Jul 28, 2004

Lawyers help people, lawmakers help many people

[Edwards won the Howard case, which awarded punitive damages against a trucking company for an accident by one of its drivers], who was induced to drive unsafely because of incentive pay. Trucking firms in the state of North Carolina were soon placing greater emphasis on driver safety training, and they were equipping more and more of their vehicles with governors to regulate driving speed. Some companies even abandoned the practice of paying drivers by the mile.

Unfortunately, the insurance company also did what many powerful businesses do, lobbied the state legislature. Soon a bill was passed disallowing punitive damage awards against a company as a result of an employee’s actions, unless that particular action was specifically ratified by corporate officers.

Yes, our lawsuit had sent a message, and that message ultimately was: if you don’t like the law, change it. The message to me was: If you can’t help enough people being a lawyer, consider being a lawmaker.

Source: Four Trials, by John Edwards, p.157-8 Dec 1, 2003

Every person should get opportunity they’re entitled to

The reason I want to be president of the United States is to change the course of America, to make sure that everyone in this country gets the opportunity that they’re entitled to, no matter where they live or what they color of their skin, what family they’re born into. That’s the America I want to be build as president. And I think those of us on this stage have an obligation, not just to the Democratic Party, but to the American people to make sure we do that.
Source: Debate at Pace University in Lower Manhattan Sep 25, 2003

Government should honor values that built America

Edwards believes that the way we strengthen America is to have a government that honors our values. Edwards understands that hard work, responsibility, faith, and family are the values that built America, and they are the values we should rely on to shape our future. Edwards’ plan offers real solutions for America. His plans will renew our economy by rewarding work and providing tax breaks for working Americans to build their wealth. He has a detailed plan to restore fiscal discipline, return responsibility to corporate America, and rebuild confidence in our markets. He will keep manufacturing jobs in America, and revitalize our small towns and rural economies. And for the first time in history, every child will have health care, and he will bring down the high costs of health care. John Edwards believes that every American should have the same opportunities to reach his or her God-given potential, and believes that this plan is the right plan for America.
Source: Real Solutions For America, campaign booklet by John Edwards Aug 6, 2003

Fight for values of people and workers over privilege

The president says he wants to have a debate about values. The basic bargain that we make with the American people [is] if you work hard, if you act responsibly, you can build a better life for yourself and for your families. This is the bargain that George Bush is breaking every single day. He comes from a place where wealth is inherited, not earned. He comes from a place where opportunity is hoarded, not shared.

This is going to be a debate about values, Mr. President. It’s going to be a debate about the future of America and the kind of country we want. They, the Republicans and George Bush, they honor wealth. We honor the work that produces wealth. They fight to expand special privileges fore special interests. We fight for opportunity for everybody. We believe in taking responsibility. They believe in passing the buck to somebody else.

This is a fight for the working people of America. It is a fight for our values, and it is a fight we will win.

Source: AFSCME union debate in Iowa May 17, 2003

Career spent fighting for the working people

Q: People say you don’t have the policy experience it takes to become president.

EDWARDS: First, what people are looking for in a president is someone who has the qualities of leadership: strength, character, conviction, good judgment. I’m happy to have people judge me on that basis.

Second, they want somebody who understands their lives. I come from a family where my dad worked in a mill. My mother worked in the post office. I was the first in my family to go to college, and I spent almost 20 years after I worked my way through college and then law school fighting for the same people that I had grown up with.

This is what I have done my entire life, fight for working people, the people I’ve known all my life. I did it first for 20 years as a lawyer and an advocate, and I’ve been doing it in the US Senate, and I will be a champion for those very same people in the White House. And the American people want somebody who will stand up for them and stand up to big corporate America.

Source: Democratic Debate in Columbia SC May 3, 2003


John Edwards on 2004 campaign

I’m the same as in 2004; America & world have changed

Q: US News ran an article entitled, “The Evolution of John Edwards”:
“Edwards has changed considerably from the happy-face centrist who refrained from attack politics in ‘04. His appeal today is based in large part on his sharp-edged anti-war stand.”
The AP ran another entitled, “Is Edwards Real or a Phony?”:
“Edwards ran as a moderate Democrat for the Senate in 1998 & the White House in 2004, calling universal healthcare policies irresponsible & impractical. Now he’s more liberal, shifting to the left along with Internet-fed forces within the Democratic Party.“
Q: Have you shifted your views for political expediency?

A: I’m exactly the same person that I was in 2004. I do believe that there’s been some changes both in America and in the world. The war in Iraq is much worse than it was in 2004. Our healthcare situation is dysfunctional. Global warming is now a crisis. These problems cannot be solved with small incremental change. We need big, bold ideas

Source: Meet the Press: 2007 “Meet the Candidates” series Oct 7, 2007

We shouldn’t use the Constitution to divide the country

I believe that marriage is between a man and a woman, and so does John Kerry. I also believe that there should be partnership benefits for gay and lesbian couples in long-term, committed relationships. But we should not use the Constitution to divide this country. No state for the last 200 years has ever had to recognize another state’s marriage. This is using the Constitution as a political tool, and it’s wrong.
Source: Edwards-Cheney debate: 2004 Vice Presidential Oct 5, 2004

Halliburton paid millions in fines for false financial data

The company that Cheney was CEO of, that did business with sworn enemies of the US, paid millions of dollars in fines for providing false financial information. It’s under investigation for bribing foreign officials. The same company that got a $7.5 billion no-bid contract, the rule is that part of their money is supposed to be withheld when they’re under investigation, as they are now, for having overcharged the American taxpayer, but they’re getting every dime of their money.
Source: Edwards-Cheney debate: 2004 Vice Presidential Oct 5, 2004

The Bush administration has flip-flopped on many issues

The Bush administration was first against the 9/11 Commission; then they were for it. They were against the Dept. of Homeland Security; then they were for it. They said they were going to put $2 trillion of the surplus when they came into office aside to protect Social Security; then they changed their minds. They said that they supported the troops; & then while our troops were on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan, they went to the Congress and lobbied to have their combat pay cut. They said that they were going to do something about health care in the US. And they’ve done something: They’ve made it worse. They said that they were going to fund their No Child Left Behind; $27 billion short today. Over & over, this administration has said one thing and done another. Bush said at his 2000 debate saying: I’m for a national patients’ bill of rights. McCain & Kennedy and I wrote it, got it passed in the Senate. We don’t have a patients’ bill of rights because of Bush. They’ve gone back & forth.
Source: Edwards-Cheney debate: 2004 Vice Presidential Oct 5, 2004

Halliburton got a $7.5 billion no-bid contract in Iraq

EDWARDS: I mentioned Halliburton in connection with the $87 billion. This is relevant, because he was pushing for lifting sanctions when he was CEO of Halliburton. Here’s why we didn’t think Halliburton should have a no-bid contract. While he was CEO of Halliburton, they paid millions of dollars in fines for providing false information on their company, just like Enron & Ken Lay. They did business with Libya and Iran, two sworn enemies of the US. They’re now under investigation for having bribed foreign officials during that period of time. Not only that, they’ve gotten a $7.5 billion no-bid contract in Iraq, and instead of part of their money being withheld, which is the way it’s normally done, because they’re under investigation, they’ve continued to get their money.

CHENEY: The reason they keep mentioning Halliburton is because they’re trying to throw up a smokescreen. They know the charges are false. If you go to factcheck.com, you can get the specific details with respect to Halliburton.

Source: Edwards-Cheney debate: 2004 Vice Presidential Oct 5, 2004

Would consider an Edwards-Kerry ticket

Q: Have you heard anything that either one has said that would make it impossible for you to run together as a ticket if it came to that? Would you run with John Kerry?

EDWARDS: I think an Edwards-Kerry ticket would be powerful.

Q: Are you saying that if you get this nomination, you will ask him to join you?

EDWARDS: He certainly should be considered. He’s a very, very good friend.

Q: And where does Edwards stand in your thinking?

KERRY: I want to thank him for the consideration. I appreciate it.

Q: Is he on your list?

KERRY: I don’t have a list. I’m running for the nomination.

Q: But do you see any view that would make it impossible?

KERRY: I take nothing for granted in this effort. And if I win the nomination, then I’ll sit down and think about who I ought to run with.

Q: What quality-and his hair and smile don’t count-does Edwards possess that you wish you had?

KERRY: I think he’s a great communicator. He’s a charming guy. He’s a good friend of mine.

Source: Democratic 2004 primary debate at USC Feb 26, 2004

Two Americas: one does the work, the other reaps the reward

Today, under George W. Bush, there are two Americas, not one: One America that does the work, another America that reaps the reward. One America that pays the taxes, another America that gets the tax breaks. One America that will do anything to leave its children a better life, another America that never has to do a thing because its children are already set for life. One America -- middle-class America - whose needs Washington has long forgotten, another America - narrow-interest America - whose every wish is Washington’s command. One America that is struggling to get by, another America that can buy anything it wants, even a Congress and a President.

2004 is a make-or-break election because we need to create one America again. And that is the one thing George Bush will never do. Dividing us into two Americas - one privileged, the other burdened - has been his agenda all along.

Source: Speech in Des Moines, Iowa, “Two Americas” Dec 29, 2003

Make America an ownership society

    Under my plan, every American will have the chance to be an owner - to buy a home, save for college, or put money aside for a secure retirement. The ownership society should look like American society, not George Bush’s secret society.
  1. We’ll give struggling families a chance to realize the American dream, with a $5,000 tax credit toward the down payment on their first home. There is no better way to build a strong, secure nest egg, and get ahead for the long haul than owning a home.
  2. I want to make college affordable with my College for Everyone plan. For those young people who are willing to work 10 hours a week and can get into a university-you’ll go tuition free for the first year.
  3. We need to reward family. We can start by offering a family leave newborn child tax credit of up to $2,500.
  4. When the time comes for Americans to retire, I want to help families who can’t afford to put money away now by giving them a helping hand, a match of up to $1 for every $1 they save.
Source: Speech in Des Moines, Iowa, “Two Americas” Dec 29, 2003

Democrats should address values of ‘guns, God, and gays’

Edwards criticized Howard Dean for advocating a strategy of winning votes in the South by forcing the debate beyond “guns, God and gays.” Dean has argued that Democrats lose in the South because the debate often centers on controversial social issues, such as gay rights, rather than economic issues. Edwards began attacking Dean earlier this month for seeking to “duck the values debate,” which Edwards said is important to Southern voters. “Some in my party want to duck the values debate,” Edwards said in a recent speech. “They want to say to America, ‘We’re not interested in your values; we want to change the subject to anything else.’ That’s wrong,” he said. “You can’t tell voters what to believe or what to vote on. Where I come from, voters are looking for answers, not attitude.”

Although Edwards has expressed strong support for gay civil rights issues, his latest comments could be seen as a coded message, distancing himself from gay rights as the campaign approaches the Southern primaries.

Source: Lou Chibbaro Jr., SouthernVoice.com Dec 26, 2003

Son of a mill worker can beat son of a president

This election is about what kind of America we are. It’s about what kind of America we want to be. It’s about taking the power in our democracy out of the hands of that handful of insiders giving it back to the American people. I believe in an America where the family you’re born into and the color of your skin should never control your destiny. I believe in an America where the son of a mill worker could actually beat the son of a president for the White House. That’s the America I will fight for.
Source: Congressional Black Caucus Institute debate Sep 9, 2003

Will not seek Senate re-election, to focus on presidency

In a letter sent to the North Carolina Democratic Party, Edwards wrote, “I will not seek re-election to the US Senate, in order to devote all of my energy to running for president. Be assured that I will help in any way I can to ensure a Democratic victory in the fall of 2004.”

The decision appears to end an issue that had become an albatross on Edwards’s presidential bid at a time when his campaign is looking to break away from the middle of the pack of nine candidates. Edwards’s refusal to state his plans for the seat had fed an impression among some party leaders and voters that he was not in the race for the long haul. Some national Democratic leaders have said they believe that Edwards, 50, a political novice who was elected in 1998, should sit out this presidential race because of the importance of keeping his Senate seat in Democratic hands.

Source: CNN.com, Randal C. Archibold Sep 8, 2003

Never hesitate to question Bush about any issue

Q: How will you demand the truth and an end to this conspiracy of deceit of Bush?

A: The Intelligence Committee, on which I serve, has begun an investigation into the intelligence surrounding the war in Iraq. The bill Bush signed allows the income of corporations not to be taxed at all because of tax shelters in places like Bermuda. It wasn’t about double taxation-it was about shifting the tax burden away from the wealth of the wealthy. We need to have the courage and backbone to stand up to Bush.

Source: MoveOn.org interview Jun 17, 2003

Give this White House back to the American people

I’m running for president because I believe this president has betrayed people like my parents and the people I grew up with. People who work hard everyday, try to do the right thing, act responsibly, and build a better life for themselves and their families. Just because you speak the language of regular Americans, does not mean your agenda is not the agenda of corporate America. Just because you walk around on a ranch in Texas with a big belt buckle doesn’t mean you understand and stand up for rural America.

I believe we can build a better life for our families, families like the family I grew up with. But it has to be based on the values of hard work and responsibility, not accounting tricks and corporate greed. I want to bring your values, the values of main street America to Wall street and then to Pennsylvania Avenue. I want to give this White House back to the American people.

Source: Democratic Debate in Columbia SC May 3, 2003


John Edwards on Personal Life

Prays daily; but prayer doesn’t prevent bad things

Q: Do you believe that, through the power of prayer, disasters like Hurricane Katrina could have been prevented?

A: I have prayed most of my life; pray daily now. But the answer to the question is: No, I don’t--I prayed before my 16-year-old son died; I prayed before Elizabeth was diagnosed with cancer. I think there are some things that are beyond our control. It is important to look to God for guidance & for wisdom. But I don’t think you can prevent bad things from happening through prayer.

Source: 2007 Democratic primary debate on “This Week” Aug 19, 2007

Decisive moment: father self-educating by watching public TV

Q: Presidential biographers are always looking at the turning point in a life, the moment where an ordinary person went on the path to the presidency, the decisive moment. What’s the decisive moment in your life?

A: When I was a young boy, I came downstairs one morning. It was still dark outside. My father, who worked in mills all his life, was sitting at the kitchen table. The television was on. He was watching public television. And he’d never been able to go to college. And he was trying to learn from public television so he could get a better job in the mill. And I worked in the mill, myself, part-time, when I was younger. And I made the decision then, whatever I did with my life--didn’t know that I’d be running for president--but whatever I did with my life, those are the people that I would fight for, as long as I was breathing.

Source: 2007 Democratic primary debate on “This Week” Aug 19, 2007

In it for the duration, despite wife’s breast cancer

Q: Regarding Mrs. Edwards’ illness: you are trying to do two all-consuming things here at once, and that however positive the course of this treatment turns out to be, there are going to be a lot of personal ups and downs for you over the next year and a half. How are you going to be able to manage both of those? Will you be in this race for the duration?

A: Oh, I’m definitely in the race for the duration. This is not the first challenge like this Elizabeth and I have been through. We lost our son eleven years ago now. And we’ve gone through Elizabeth’s first round of breast cancer treatment. We went through those together. So we know what it’s like to function in a very difficult environment. And there is a focus and a maturity that I think is required to be able to do that, but I know, because I’ve done it in the past, that we can do it. One of the reasons that I want to be president is to make sure that every woman and every person in America gets the same kinds of health care that we have.

Source: SEIU Democratic Health Care Forum in Las Vegas Mar 24, 2007

Mill-town job persuaded him to get college education

In high school, the ambitions I had were vague; I only wanted to please my parents. And they wanted me to do things that would make me happy. At first I didn’t understand why they had such a strong ambition for me to find a life beyond the mill town. But at one of my early summer jobs in a weaving room, I began to understand how genuinely hard the life of my parents-and so many other people-really was. And why they wanted something different for me.

The weaving room was massive, with great throbbing looms and a big system of ducts that pulled as much dust as possible out of the generally foul air. The noise was deafening, the ducts poorly lit, and the lint that stuck to them was black and wet. I was sixteen, and my job was to clean those ducts. At night I would come home caked with sweat and covered with some obscure residue, and my mother’s face would always grow tense as she opened the door and I walked into her clean house. “Now you see,” my dad would say, “why you need to go to college.”

Source: Four Trials, by John Edwards, p.122 Dec 1, 2003

On birth of 1st son, thanked wife for what he always wanted

[In July 1979 Edwards’ wife went into labor.] Elizabeth was wheeled into X-ray. Our obstetrician read the X-ray and recognized that the baby would not be able to fit through the pelvis, and so he prepared for a cesarean delivery. Hospital policy being what it was in 1979, I was left at the delivery room door.

While the anesthesiologist hovered over Elizabeth, she strained to listen to her obstetrician and heard him say, “It’s dead.” The stillborn baby [from a previous pregnancy] fresh on her mind, she was frantic. Elizabeth did not know that they were talking about the cauterizing machine, which had lost power. It was nearly midnight on July 18 before she was finally relieved by the sight of our son, alive, healthy, and loud.

When they brought him to me, fresh from delivery, he was discolored and bruised. He was also the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen. All I could say to Elizabeth was “Thank you for giving me what I always wanted.”

Source: Four Trials, by John Edwards, p. 49-50 Dec 1, 2003

Makes most speeches from notes, not a prepared text

Today I give speeches on the Senate floor much as I presented my closing arguments as a trial lawyer. I don’t read from a prepared text. Instead, I organize a body of ideas and then distill them down to a short series of points that I write out on a piece of paper, barely legible, even to myself. This approach doesn’t always yield the most flowing rhetoric, but it allows me to speak to the jurors from the heart. The struggle to earn and keep credibility begins the first time the jury sees you, and it does not end until the jury door closes. An artful and beautifully constructed closing argument read from a sheaf of papers is, in my view, just like the defense’s parade of nurses each reciting the same speech. The perfection of it was alluring but does not have the ring of truth to it. If I spoke directly and plainly to the jury, I could convey, however imperfectly, what I truly believed. And that is what I needed to do.
Source: Four Trials, by John Edwards, p. 96-97 Dec 1, 2003

Climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro with his teenage son

In the summer of 1995, [my 16-year-old son] Wade and I decided to climb Mount Kilimanjaro with 2 friends.

By the fifth night, before the six-hour push to reach the summit by dawn, I was feeling as helpless as a child. When a harsh chill set in around midnight, I simply couldn’t go on. [My climbing partner] asked, “What do you want out of this trip?” I said weakly, “for Wade to make it to the top.” And so we agreed: the other three would go on, while I would stay behind with one of the porters.

They made the summit just after dawn. My son said, “I never would have thought I would have been able to do something so hard.” The three began the 14-hour journey downhill. Just then, a battered sight came into view. It was me--numb toes, pounding headache, and all. They joined me for the short ascent to the summit.

It took months for two of my toes to regain their feeling. But that wasn’t what mattered. That trip to Africa with my son is worth a book in itself. It was worth everything.

Source: Four Trials, by John Edwards, p.165-8 Dec 1, 2003

Lost teenage son in a traffic accident

No one loved the refuge [of our beachhouse] on the Carolina coastline more than [my son] Wade. On April 4, 1996, [when he was almost 17], Wade was behind the wheel of his Jeep Grand Cherokee with his friend Tyler in the passenger seat. Wade took care, as he always did.

I cannot tell you why such care was not enough that afternoon. I can only say that there are crosswinds on certain stretches of that interstate, and one of them swept my boy off the road. Tyler walked away. Wade was dead.

My son Wade remains as alive in my heart today as he was alive in my heart then. Nothing in my life ever hit me and stripped everything away like my son’s death.

At the funeral service, our house was filled with friends and family. Then it was not. For many weeks, we felt nothing in that house but Wade’s absence.

But we were not about to let go of our son, and it was that determination that brought us out from the paralysis of grief. Elizabeth and I formed the nonprofit Wade Edwards Foundation.

Source: Four Trials, by John Edwards, p.172-3 Dec 1, 2003

Favorite song: John Cougar Mellencamp, “Small Town”

Source: Congressional Black Caucus Institute debate Sep 9, 2003

Religious affiliation: Methodist.

Edwards : religious affiliation:

The Adherents.com website is an independent project and is not supported by or affiliated with any organization (academic, religious, or otherwise).

What’s an adherent?

The most common definition used in broad compilations of statistical data is somebody who claims to belong to or worship in a religion. This is the self-identification method of determining who is an adherent of what religion, and it is the method used in most national surveys and polls.

Such factors as religious service attendance, belief, practice, familiarity with doctrine, belief in certain creeds, etc., may be important to sociologists, religious leaders, and others. But these are measures of religiosity and are usually not used academically to define a person’s membership in a particular religion. It is important to recognize there are various levels of adherence, or membership within religious traditions or religious bodies. There’s no single definition, and sources of adherent statistics do not always make it clear what definition they are using.

Source: Adherents.com web site 00-ADH7 on Nov 7, 2000

Supports Hyde Park Declaration of "Third Way" centrism.

Edwards adopted the manifesto, "A New Politics for a New America":

As New Democrats, we believe in a Third Way that rejects the old left-right debate and affirms America’s basic bargain: opportunity for all, responsibility from all, and community of all.