Edwards Evening News Roundup: Happy News Year Edition!

The sprint to the end had begun! We all know that Edwards is workaholic. He's worked very hard for this nomination. He came prepared with plans, ideas, goals and ATTITUDE. This dude knows how to fight. He has been outspent by millions and millions of dollars by two celebrity candidates and he's STILL in the race. That goes to a testament of how strong his message is and how much people are to take their country back. AGGRESSIVELY. He didn't come to the table as entrenched insider and he brought a lot more than something and flighty and wishy-washy than hope. He came prepped with the plans and the fight to actually give REAL hope to millions of Americans.

1. 36-Hour Marathon Begins

The marathon has begun. Get out your stop-clocks and sneakers. And water. Lots of water. Are you all ready!!??

Over 36 hours, Edwards discusses 36 bold ideas for strengthening the middle class
Des Moines, Iowa – This morning, Senator John Edwards kicked off a 36-hour "Marathon for the Middle Class." Edwards will spend the next 36 hours before the Iowa caucuses talking to thousands of Iowa caucus goers about his 36 ideas to strengthen the middle class. As he makes his closing argument to Iowans, Edwards will highlight his bold plans to stand up to the powerful special interests and give hard working, middle class families a voice in Washington. Edwards heads into the final days before the caucuses with growing momentum as more and more Iowans respond to his positive vision of America — an America where everyone can work hard and build a better life for their children.

"Over the next 36 hours, I'm looking forward to meeting with Iowans across the state who are as restless as I am for change – and who understand that making change happen is going to take a fight," said Edwards. "Middle-class families are working harder and harder every day just to get by – and they need a president who will fight on their behalf. Together we can take on the corporate greed and powerful interests that are corrupting Washington and stealing our children's future, and make our government start working again for middle-class families."

Edwards begins the marathon today with a New Year's Day event in Ames, followed by events in Fort Dodge, Des Moines, and Council Bluffs. At midnight, Edwards will attend an event with core supporters in Atlantic followed by an event at 2:15 AM at the home of another supporter in Creston. The marathon continues Wednesday with an early breakfast in Centerville, a visit to a campaign office in Ottumwa, and events in Fairfield, Mount Pleasant, Burlington, Iowa City, Cedar Rapids and Grinnell. The marathon will end with a "This Is Our Country" rally in Des Moines with John Mellencamp.

During each hour of the 36-hour marathon – at events and on www.JohnEdwards.com/Iowa – Edwards will highlight one specific step to strengthen the middle class. The first idea that Edwards is highlighting is raising the minimum wage. Effective today, Iowa's minimum wage was officially raised to from $6.20 to $7.25 an hour. While Edwards applauds Governor Culver and the Iowa Legislature for taking this important step, he believes the federal government has to show leadership. Edwards has called for raising the minimum wage to $9.50 by 2012 to help millions of low-wage workers earn a decent wage -- and then having the minimum wage go up automatically after that.

In addition to his minimum wage proposal, the first eight hours of the marathon, Edwards will be discussing his other plans to create more good jobs by investing in new clean energy infrastructure. As president, Edwards will also support American ingenuity by investing in education and technology, strengthen labor laws, ban the permanent replacement of strikers, protect prevailing wage laws, cut taxes for working families and strengthen the safety net for workers struggling to find jobs.

In the following five hours of the marathon, Edwards will focus on his proposals for helping families save and get ahead. In hours 14 through 17, Edwards will focus on his plans to pass true universal health care so that every man, woman and child in America can get the care they need.

From hours 18 to 30, Edwards will highlight his plans to strengthen our schools, followed by his proposals for smart trade policy and to help working families. In the last six hours of the marathon, Edwards will talk about his proposals to restore rural communities by investing in rural America, and he'll close the marathon with a discussion of his plans to help America achieve energy independence.

Edwards has outlined his bold solutions for change in an 80-page policy book, "The Plan to Build One America." Further details on Edwards' 36 bold ideas to strengthen the middle class can be found on the Edwards website – .

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2. Sprint to the Finish!

Sprinting! Breathe. Now steady. Now SPEED!!

Momentum

via AP

AMES, Iowa (AP) -- Democrat John Edwards embarked Tuesday on a marathon 36-hour campaign, focusing on pocketbook issues while launching a new wave of advertising on the airwaves and in print.
He dismissed recent polls showing him trailing Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama.

Edwards campaigned with his family and Mari Culver, wife of Iowa Gov. Chet Culver and a backer of his candidacy.

"There's so much energy and excitement in the campaign," said Edwards. "I don't need a poll to tell me that we're moving and moving in the right direction every single day."

Edwards opened his campaign with a rally before about 500 people jammed into a ballroom at the student union at Iowa State University, and the theme of his overnight drive was energizing backers and delivering them to precinct caucuses. He planned a rally in Atlantic at midnight and had a stop at 2:15 a.m. in Creston and an early breakfast in Centerville at 5:15 a.m.

At the same time new television and newspaper ads focused on his populist message, with the TV spot featuring a worker who lost his job when the Maytag factory in Newton closed. Edwards makes the case that he is most likely to fight to get his job back.

"I am rolling up my sleeves, traveling with the campaign," Mari Culver said. A trial lawyer before her husband was elected governor, Culver has long ties with Edwards and said she's a pragmatist with a simple reason for backing Edwards.

"I know John Edwards can win," she said.

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3. Edwards Continues to Amp Up The Rhetoric

MES, Iowa -- John Edwards continues to raise the rhetorical stakes in his bid to win the Democratic nomination, taking a clear swipe at Barack Obama by insisting that any candidate who preaches political conciliation is not in touch with political reality.

"Anybody who thinks this fight is not going to happen is living in never-never land," said Edwards at the first stop of a 36-hour campaign marathon aimed at highlighting issues important to the middle class.

Later, the candidate dismissed the idea that sitting down across the table from entrenched interests could bring about real change, calling such a notion a "complete and total fantasy," adding: "That will never happen." Sticking to the combative tone, Edwards also said, "The tough going is coming. You can't be naive about this."

Edwards's sharp rhetoric is aimed at peeling away undecided voters from Obama in the final hours of the Iowa campaign. The two men are competing for a similar strain of voters -- people who have decided they won't be voting for Hillary Rodham Clinton but remain undecided about whether Edwards or Obama is the real change agent in the race.

As we've written before, that choice is more about style than substance. Edwards is passionate (or angry), the man ready to fight for your rights. Obama is the sometimes somber force, insisting that change is about bringing people together rather than pulling them apart.

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The key question, which we don't know the answer to just yet, is how many Iowans remain undecided about the Democratic field AND how many of them will actually turn out to caucus Thursday night.

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4. The Final Iowa Push

Reporter on the beat with JRE canvassers looking for undecided voters.

For months, Iowa caucus voters have been inundated with mailings, phone calls and door knocks. In the final days before the Jan. 3 event, they are getting one last heavy dose of personal attention that will last until the moment before votes are tallied. I was a part of this blast 30 miles outside of Des Moines with three United Steel Workers members in their 20s who had driven 11 hours from Arkansas to join the cause. Their union has endorsed Edwards and all three wore navy blue T-shirts that read Steelworkers for Edwards.

The campaigns in both parties are using any bodies they can find to fan out across the state, trying to make one last pitch to those who have not made up their mind or who need "a little bit of extra touch," as one Edwards staffer put it. If a voter needs a ride, his walk shoveled, or a babysitter so that he can make the 6:30 p.m. caucus time, the campaign will provide it.

Iowa voters are late deciders. Exit polls from 2004 showed that 21 percent of Iowans made up their minds in the last week and 21 percent made up their minds in the last three days. That appears to be the case this time, too. In Vinton, one week before the big day, Barack Obama asked the crowd of several hundred how many had yet to choose a candidate. Nearly half the hands went up. When Ron Odlman, in a Minnesota Vikings sweatshirt, opened the door to the Edwards volunteers, he said of Edwards, Obama, and Clinton, "I like all three of them. I guess I'm just waiting for one of them to make a mistake." (Many people in Iowa spend their Sundays wearing NFL sweatshirts.)

Odlman noticed the union shirts and said his postal carrier union had also joined Edwards. Campaigns would prefer to have Iowans talk to Iowans, but the union affiliation allowed the volunteers to play on that tie instead. A woman who said "caucusing isn't my kind of thing," was nevertheless anxious to point out that her husband had been in the union at the Firestone plant and that her plumber son was in a union, too.
Rhonda Carber held back her barking dog and explained that, "Every time I think I've made up my mind I change it." For her, the choice was between Clinton and Obama. The Edwards volunteers gave her his policy book. "He was the first out there with detailed plans," said one of them, Amanda Boulden. The pitch is not supposed to be taxing for the volunteers. They have several handouts in their manila binders. If they find someone who is undecided, they hand out a recent Washington Post editorial about Edwards' response to the recent troubles in Pakistan and a sheet with polls that show Edwards beating Republicans. For those who haven't already gone for Edwards' anti-corporate message, his ability to beat Republicans is probably a bigger selling point.

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Canvassers know the names of their quarry because they carry packets of highly specific data. For months, the campaigns have been building and tending their lists of voters, culled from rallies, previous interaction with the Democratic party, union membership, and other high-tech methods. Over the months each voter has been assigned a number corresponding to the level of their support. Signs on the wall at the United Steel workers hall where I started my day listed the assignment codes for the two dozen volunteers dialing at the end of hastily installed phone lines that dangled like IVs from the ceiling. A level '1' is a lock for the candidate; '2' represents a supporter who has not signed a card pledging their support; '3L' is an undecided voter leaning towards Edwards; '3' is a pure undecided; '4C' will caucus for Clinton, not Edwards.

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The big selling item of the day was a ticket to John Cougar Mellencamp's concert in support of Edwards. If a voter wanted to go, all he or she had to do was come down to the union hall for the big pitch. Of course, for a supporter like Kim Miller, no sell was needed. "I'm caucusing for Edwards," she said in her fuzzy blue slippers and Green Bay Packer shirt. She said she was about to head out to the union hall to get her concert tickets. Behind Miller, her young son yelled out, "John Edwards rocks."

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5. Edwards Closing Ad with Doug Bishop

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6. Edwards has right take on health care

Great little article highlighting whey Edwards better on healthcare. He gets that all of the problems are connected.

There are many reasons physicians and people in health care are lukewarm about John Edwards' presidential candidacy. None is bigger probably than his professional past.

In the '80s and '90s, he amassed a fortune as a trial attorney, in no small part through malpractice cases against OB/GYNS in North Carolina. Many of the cases he took became high profile. And some of his awards were stratospheric, earning him a reputation as a highly talented orator. Right or wrong, this makes some people in health care uneasy.

Yet no matter how you feel about Edwards' past, of all the candidates seeking the presidency, he is the one most committed to improving the public's health, in addition to health care. How? Aside from having the most progressive universal health plan, Edwards is the only candidate talking seriously about poverty, one of our worst public health diseases.

The relationship of poverty and health is not new. By a number of metrics, people living in poverty have worse health than their more fortunate counterparts.

Consider the raw measure of life expectancy from birth. Here in Seattle, there is more than an eight-year differential in life expectancy from birth between those living on Mercer Island and those in Central Seattle. (To put that in perspective, it's often helpful to ask yourself: What is one year of your life worth to you?)

Life expectancy, of course, is just one of many measures of health status that negatively (and disproportionately) affect people living in poverty. Others include asthma rates, diabetes, HIV prevalence and infant mortality. Even though the exact causes of those health status disparities are not entirely understood, there seems little question that poverty plays an important role.

This problem is not minor. Roughly 37 million people lived in poverty last year, the latest census says. Disproportionately represented are children, accounting for more than 17 percent of all people living in poverty. (In King County, the most recent figures put the number of children living below the poverty line at more than 37,000.)

It's clear that improving the public's health can't happen just in a doctor's office. It requires attacking some of the root causes of poor health, including poverty.

Edwards understands that. His solutions to combat poverty don't shy from specifics: increase access to higher education, especially community colleges; enhance workers' skills, enabling them to get living-wage jobs; revitalize labor; improve inner-city schools, by increasing teacher pay; and finally, refocusing outreach in rural areas, where some of our poorest counties are.

Make no mistake; those measures will not be easy. But by focusing on poverty, in addition to his health plan, Edwards is in a position to do a tremendous amount to improve our country's collective health.

Because of his professional past, though, Edwards is a particularly tough sell to some physicians. Yet if the decision really is for better health, for all of us, not just those fortunate enough to have access to quality care, he offers a great choice. And doctors could be the leading proponents of that choice. "Physicians," after all, as Rudolf Virchow once wrote, "are the natural attorneys of the poor."

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7. Edwards the orator energizes audience

Edwards knows how to rev 'em up. Can we say UPRISING!

Boone, Ia. - Dayton Countryman said he's been around long enough to know what it means when a supposedly underdog presidential candidate can pack more than 500 folks into a social hall in this town of 12,000 people.

"This ought to scare the hell out of the other campaigns," Countryman said Sunday as he watched more and more people come in from the cold to hear Democrat John Edwards speak.

The 89-year-old lawyer is a former Iowa attorney general who recently became a Democrat after more than 50 years as a Republican. He said he's fed up with what's going on in Washington, D.C., and he'll caucus for Edwards because he believes the former North Carolina senator will stand up.

Edwards has been drawing increasingly large and energetic crowds in recent weeks as he presses his case that America needs a fighter in the White House. His audiences are filled mainly with people who are middle age or older, and he's banking that such Iowans have been most likely to show up in caucuses.

He says his populist talk could be a winning formula in the general election this fall.

"The corporate greed that's stealing your children's future, that's destroying middle-class jobs in this country, it's not just destroying the middle class for Democrats. It's destroying the middle class for independents. It's destroying the middle class for Republicans," Edwards said.

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Edwards' five-stop Sunday trip from Boone to Sioux City followed a raucous Saturday-night rally at Des Moines East High School that drew more than 1,100 people, one of the biggest crowds he's ever had in Iowa.

Edwards' hectic pace will pick up Tuesday at noon, when he plans to start a 36-hour, 16-stop marathon that will stretch from Ames to Burlington to Council Bluffs and end with a free West Des Moines concert by rocker John Mellencamp, a friend of the candidate.

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8. Edwards Calls for Quick Pullout of Troops Training Iraqi Forces

Interesting article on Edwards on Iraq.

In November 2005, Mr. Edwards wrote an op-ed article for The Washington Post entitled “The Right Way in Iraq,” in which he argued that his earlier vote to authorize the use of force in Iraq was a mistake, while making the point that it was still important to provide American troops with “a way to end their mission honorably.”

Toward this end, Mr. Edwards called at the time for establishing a more effective program to train Iraqi troops and channeling reconstruction work to Iraqis instead of American contractors. While he called for removing a significant number of American forces, he also emphasized that the withdrawals should be “a gradual process.”

“That will still leave us with enough military capability, combined with better-trained Iraqis, to fight terrorists and continue to help the Iraqis develop a stable country,” he wrote.

In the interview on Sunday, Mr. Edwards said that he decided on his current plan for a rapid and near-total withdrawal of American troops because of the failure of Iraqi leaders to achieve a political accommodation over the past four years. Eight to 10 brigades, which is likely to be the bulk of the American combat force by the time the next president takes office, would immediately be withdrawn.

“I absolutely believe this to my soul: we are there propping up their bad behavior,” he said. “I mean really, how many American lives and how much American taxpayer money are we going to continue to expend waiting for these political leaders to do something? Because that is precisely what we are doing.”

Such a troop withdrawal, he said, might jolt Iraqi leaders into taking action to overcome their sectarian differences. During the 10 months or so while American troops were being withdrawn, Mr. Edwards added, he would also mount an intensive effort to encourage Iraq’s leaders to engage in political reconciliation and solicit the cooperation of Iran and Syria, who he argued might be more willing to help once they understood that American troops were on their way out.

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9. Edwards says he gives voters what they want

He argued Iowans are looking for a fighter who will stand up for the middle class and understands their problems.

“They get that in me. It is not political; it’s personal and passionate,” he said.

Obama’s campaign has complained recently of Edwards’ support from a group funded by unions and other sources that is running ads on behalf of Edwards in Iowa. The campaign accused Edwards of getting help from what they referred to as special interests.

Edwards fired back Tuesday.

“I’m proud to have the support of all the unions who support me. They stand up and fight for middle class and working families. This is exactly what my campaign’s about,” Edwards said.

Debra Thompson, a voter from McCallsburg, braved the bitter cold winds on New Year’s Day to catch Edwards’ speech in Ames.

She ticked off several of Edwards’ policy positions on agriculture, education, the economy and withdrawing troops from Iraq as the reason she’s supporting him. Thompson caucused for Edwards in 2004 and will stick with him this year.

“He’s seen it firsthand what corporate greed can do to the small people. He was a small person. He came from that background,” Thompson said. “I feel that he can adequately represent me because I’m a small person.”

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10. Blog Round up

Boots on the Ground in Iowa for John Edwards! by NCDem Amy

Why Edwards is right and Obama Wrong: We must FIGHT for Change by TomP

My Vote 1/8/08 by MissLaura

Economists for Edwards by Citizen Rat

John Edwards Past DOES Match His Current Rhetoric by RDemocrat

...or, how I learned to stop worrying and vote John Edwards. by andydoubtless

Insider Advantage Predicts Edwards Victory in Iowa by jryan86

The Power of Truth by david mizner

My thoughts on the second-tier candidates in Iowa by desmoinesdem

Day 5: Florida housewife stuck in a snowdrift in NH by Writebrain

Obama Will Not Fight Corporate Power and Abuse: John Edwards Will by priceman

CNN/Blitzer: Is Edwards "too angry"? w/poll by cruz

Tim Horrigan's endorsement letter for Edwards in the NH Primary by TimothyHorrigan

Sometimes you need a trial lawyer by teresahill

More Non-Coverage of Edwards by goodlittlesquid

Union officials on Obama: "Politics as Usual" by wade norris

Why John Edwards is the most electable Dem by JeremiahFP

The War Within the Democratic Party cjallen

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for an Edwards win in Iowa to propel him to front-runner status!

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