Ed­wards con­firms plan to run for White House

The Washington Times Weekly - - National - By Charles Hurt

For­mer Demo­cratic vice pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee John Ed­wards on Dec. 28 made his first pub­lic an­nounce­ment that he will again seek his party’s nom­i­na­tion for pres­i­dent.

The one-term sen­a­tor from North Carolina, who made a hefty for­tune as a per­sonal in­jury lawyer, chose as the back­drop of his speech the squalor left in New Or­leans by Hur­ri­cane Ka­t­rina more than a year ago.

“New Or­leans, in so many ways, shows the two Amer­i­cas that I have talked about in the past and some­thing that I feel very per­son­ally,” he said Dec. 28, touch­ing on the theme of class di­vi­sion that de­fined his 2004 pri­mary cam­paign. “It also ex­em­pli­fies some­thing that I’ve learned since the last elec­tion, which is that it’s great to see a prob­lem and to un­der­stand it; it’s more im­por­tant to ac­tu­ally take ac­tion and do some­thing about it.”

Asked by a re­porter whether he was an­nounc­ing from the now-fa­mous9thWard­to­helpNewOr­leans or so that New Or­leans could help his po­lit­i­cal ca­reer, Mr. Ed­wards replied, “Yeah, well I hope so.”

“In the worst-hit ar­eas of New Or­leans, as ev­ery­one in New Or­leans knows — they cer­tainly don’t need me to tell them — you don’t see much change,” he said. “So if we can help bring Amer­i­cans to New Or­leans to help re­build this great city and get peo­ple to pay at­ten­tion to what’s ac­tu­ally go­ing on here, I feel like we’ve done a good thing.”

Mr. Ed­wards faces a field dra­mat­i­cally altered from the one he faced lead­ing up to the 2004 pres­i­den­tial elec­tions. Then, he was a fresh face who was still sit­ting in the Se­nate. He held a great deal of prom­ise as a Demo­crat from the South who might help break the Repub­li­can stran­gle­hold on Dixie.

To­day, he is no longer a fresh face and has spent the past two years out of of­fice run­ning a poverty cen­ter in North Carolina. Also, he proved in­ef­fec­tive at mak­ing in­roads in the South, fail­ing even to de­liver his home state to the 2004 Demo­crat ticket headed by Sen. John Kerry of Mas­sachusetts.

Still dom­i­nat­ing the field are two po­ten­tial can­di­dates who haven’t even an­nounced their in­ten­tions: Sen. Hil­lary Rod­ham Clin­ton of New York and Sen. Barack Obama of Illi­nois.

Mr. Ed­wards had planned to an­nounce his can­di­dacy Dec. 28, but a com­puter mishap that put his cam­paign Web site on the In­ter­net on Dec. 27 forced his team to say that day that he was run­ning. He also sent an e-mail to sup­port­ers Dec. 27 night to that ef­fect.

Mr. Ed­wards has an­other ob­sta­cle in his path to the White House: He voted for the Iraq war.

“My vote was a mis­take, and I should never have voted for this war,” he said Dec. 28. “I do think it’s im­por­tant to note for any­body who voted for the war that we didn’t con­duct the war. [Pres­i­dent] Bush, [Vice Pres­i­dent Dick] Cheney, those peo­ple — [for­mer De­fense Sec­re­tary Don­ald H.] Rums­feld — they con­ducted the war, and they’ve been an ab­so­lute dis­as­ter in the con­duct­ing of the war. But none of that changes or af­fects my re­spon­si­bil­ity. I’m re­spon­si­ble for what I did, and I be­lieve that my vote was a mis­take.”

He also said he op­poses any in­crease in the num­ber of troops serv­ing in Iraq.

Mr. Ed­wards also took the op­por­tu­nity Dec. 28 to crit­i­cize the Bush ad­min­is­tra­tion for its han­dling of the post-hur­ri­cane res­cue ef­forts, cleanup and re­build­ing in New Or­leans.

“I think if the pres­i­dent of the United States had come to New Or­leans, spent some time here — I mean, the pres­i­dent has a lot of re­spon­si­bil­i­ties, he can’t stake him­self out for the long term in New Or­leans — but he should have spent a pe­riod of days here, saw what was ac­tu­ally hap­pen­ing on the ground and then de­manded ac­tion,” Mr. Ed­wards said.

Hur­ri­cane Ka­t­rina hit dur­ing the fi­nal days of Au­gust last year.

On Sept. 15, Pres­i­dent Bush de­liv­ered a prime-time ad­dress to the na­tion af­ter re­view­ing the dam­age.

Getty Images

For­mer Sen. John Ed­wards, hold­ing a press con­fer­ence in the 9th Ward of New Or­leans, con­firmed his 2008 plans.

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