We SUPPORT and ENDORSE JOHN EDWARDS, HILLARY CLINTON , Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Dennis Kucinich, Tom Vilsack, Bill Richardson, Chris Dodd, John Kerry , Wesley Clark and their SUPPORTERS AND OTHER DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES




Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Edwards Likely to Try for Democratic Presidential Nomination

Edwards Likely to Try for Democratic Presidential Nomination

Published: December 27, 2006

By Marie Horrigan and Bob Benenson, CQ Staff

John Edwards is expected to announce his second try for a Democratic presidential nomination, during a scheduled appearance in New Orleans Thursday. If he does, he will stand out as a national figure in a field of official party contenders currently made up of three much lesser-known figures: retiring Iowa Gov. Tim Vilsack, Ohio Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich and former Alaska Sen. Mike Gravel. Daily E-mail CQ’s 2006 Election Forecast Map CQ Midday Update from Capitol Hill Edwards, a 53-year-old former senator from North Carolina, would enter the race with substantial national name ID from his run as the 2004 Democratic vice presidential nominee on the ticket with Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry, which followed Edwards’ emergence as the strongest challenger to Kerry for that year’s presidential nomination.
His tour on the ticket that lost narrowly (51 percent to 48 percent) to President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney has not made Edwards the heir apparent for the 2008 Democratic presidential nod; in fact, Kerry has not yet clarified whether he will make a second try himself.
And Edwards’ turn as the star of the field may be short-lived. He has received much less buzz among politics watchers than the Democrats’ two leading subjects of presidential speculation: New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, wife of former President Bill Clinton, fundraising juggernaut and perceived front-runner in the Democratic nominating contest; and Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, who has skyrocketed to political celebrity since his moving keynote address at the 2004 Democratic convention and his subsequent election that year as the only current African-American senator.
In choosing the unusual “slow news” period between the Christmas and New Year’s holidays, Edwards is attempting to steal a march on Clinton, whose candidacy is regarded as most observers as a near-certainty, and Obama, who is expected to announce a determination early in the new year about whether he’ll run or not. Edwards may also be hoping to preempt some of the obsessive media attention given to those other top-tier candidates.
Still, despite the publicity imbalance to date, the handsome and personable Edwards has an opportunity to pursue a sizable niche as an alternative for Democratic voters worried about the electability of Clinton — who carries the baggage of controversies that surrounded her and her husband during their White House years — or Obama, who bears the burden of proof that the nation is prepared to elect a black president, and whose mere two years in the Senate would raise questions about whether he had sufficient experience.
Experience, in fact, was an issue that dogged Edwards in 2004. He ran for national office at the end of his one and only six-year term in the Senate (unlike Obama, who previously was an Illinois state senator, wealthy trial lawyer Edwards never held public office before or after his short U.S. Senate stint).
With the nation at war in Iraq and Afghanistan, four-term Sen. Kerry and other opponents for the nomination questioned whether Edwards had the requisite foreign policy and national security credentials.
Since the 2004 campaign, Edwards has taken steps to address that issue. On the signal foreign policy issue of the day, he has been an outspoken critic of the Bush administration’s handling of the war in Iraq. He also has sought to draw attention to an overseas crisis that is far less visible to the American people: ongoing civil strife in Uganda: He edited the recently released book “Home: The Blueprints of Our Lives,” which includes reflections from politicians, actors and others on their childhood residences, with the proceeds dedicated to relief efforts in Uganda.
Yet the core of his political activism, and a central theme of his prospective 2008 campaign, is combating poverty and inequality in American society. It’s no coincidence that Edwards reportedly has chosen to hold his Thursday event in New Orleans’ Lower Ninth Ward, a mostly African-American and largely lower-income community struggling to recover from the sweeping devastation that followed Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
In 2005, he signed on to head the new Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (where he earned his law degree), and was visible in post-Katrina reconstruction in Louisiana.
This is not a new cause for Edwards, who often refers to his background as the son of a mill worker and as the first member of his family to go to college. His 2004 bid for president also focused on poverty and his portrayal of “two Americas,” one prosperous and the other struggling economically. He projects a vision of “one America” through social equality on issues including health care coverage, increased minimum wages and other efforts to reduce poverty.
Edwards’ political action committee, which has been the platform to keep him in the public eye, is called the One America Committee. Since it was formed in 2001, the PAC has raised $2.7 million and spent $2.6 million, according to the committee’s filing with the Federal Election Commission.
Edwards’ focus on economic issues has attracted interest from some elements of organized labor.
Reflecting on the 2004 campaign, which some analysts said was stymied by Kerry’s lack of charisma, Edwards said on MSNBC’s Hardball Dec. 12 that he “wasn’t crazy about” running for vice president.
“Your job, basically, is to advocate for the presidential candidate,” he said, giving him little leeway to speak openly about his own opinions.
But Edwards said that experience campaigning has informed his approach for this cycle. “Running before makes you focus on something different instead of focusing on how crowds respond to you and what everybody seems to love of you,” he said .
“That’s not the test for being president,” he continued. “The test for being president is are you the best person to occupy the Oval Office and be the leader of the free world? Because literally the future of the world is at stake here. This is not about popularity and excitement.”
Edwards would not head into the 2008 presidential campaign alone: His wife, Elizabeth, whom he met when they were attending law school, has been an active participant in his political campaigns.
Her own public profile has been raised by a book she authored earlier this year. Titled “Saving Graces: Finding Solace and Strength from Friends and Strangers,” it focuses on how she dealt with the death of a teenage son in a 1996 car accident and with her own battle with breast cancer, with which she was diagnosed on Nov. 3, 2004 — the day after the election in which the Kerry-Edwards ticket was defeated.
© 2006 Congressional Quarterly

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