Sunday, May 13, 2007

Candidate Review Wednesday: John Edwards

Last week, in the first diary of this series, I reviewed Hillary Clinton. I included a poll asking whether people thought this process was useful. I was gratified to see that 65% of the respondents did think the process was useful. As of 5:00 PM Sunday, the diary had drawn 106 comments and 18 Recs. Thank you all for participating.

As promised last week, today is John Edwards turn in the barrel.

The two broad criteria I am using to evaluate the candidates are these:

The first is their ability to win the nomination. The second is their ability to
win the general election.
You can check out the other criteria being used at the Overview Diary for this series. But I am a big believer in value based decision making, so I am putting a lot of stock in the values expressed by the candidates.

Here are some of the values expressed in John Edwards speeches:

London School of Economics Speech

When hundreds of thousands of children are now orphaned living in tents and
temporary shelters, their despair and disillusionment is a threat to their
stability and to our security
. For disillusionment is the fuel that feeds the
fire of hatred and tyranny. And when millions of people — men and women who used to be able to work and support their families — are at risk of slipping into
poverty, it is the moral conscience of the world to give them hope.

For example, how do we ensure that the great divide between the "haves" and the "have nots" starts to close? How do we lead so that developing countries understand that education, market reforms, and just governments will bring hope to even the most desperate places?

And today, many ask whether America and Europe can continue to work together to ensure the broader spread of democracy. The only answer to that question must be yes.
This is the moment when we must strengthen our partnership to ensure that in the 21st century, the world moves toward liberty and opportunity.

The Transatlantic Partnership in an Age of Global Challenges

America has a responsibility to lead and to lead on the issue of extreme poverty around the world, not just addressing the millions of Americans who live in poverty everyday... How do we win the hearts and minds of young people, especially the millions who are struggling in the Middle East and in Africa who feel that the modern world offers them absolutely nothing? How do we reach them and give them an opportunity to climb out of hopelessness and into a better life just as we did here with the Marshall Plan after World War II?

National Press Club Policy Address

On the America we want to achieve in the next twenty years, I don't think the picture is hard to draw. It is an America where we are well on our way to ending poverty. It is an America where every American has health care coverage — not access to health insurance or other wiggle-word ways we try to describe something less than health coverage for every American. It is time. It is an America where businesses and working people thrive in a competitive and fair international marketplace. It is an America where everyone can join the middle class and everyone can build a better future than their parents had.

I want to live in an America free from dependence on fossil fuels, where our environmental policies reflect our pride in the blessings of a beautiful and abundant country and our commitment to preserve that country for our farmers, our fishermen, our children. Sacrifice, conservation, and innovation will be required.
I want to live in an America that has not sacrificed individual liberties in the name of freedom, where — in the fight to preserve the country we love — we do not sacrifice the country we love, where we don't make excuses for violating civil rights, though we understand the test of liberty is in the moments when such excuses almost sound reasonable.

I want to live in an America where we value work as well as wealth, because we understand that we are only strong because our people work hard, that we are made strong by our longshoremen and autoworkers, our computer programmers and janitors, and disrespect to any of them is disrespect to the values that allowed for America's greatness in the first place.

I want to live in an America where the difference in our best schools and our worst schools cannot be measured by Newsweek, where those who can teach are encouraged and rewarded and where the world of learning is opened to every child.

How do these values translate into play via Edwards' stance on the issues? Let's start with Iraq. If you can not get past the Iraq issue, you are nowhere. In a recent CBS News Poll 36% of Americans named Iraq as the most important issue. No other issue was even in double digits.

Like Hillary Clinton, John Edwards was in the Senate and voted for The Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) in Iraq. Unlike Clinton, however, John Edwards has acknowledged that he made a mistake. Edwards has been urging Congress to stand firm on ending the war in Iraq.

The president today asked for yet another chance. We can no longer afford to bet American troops on a chance. In fact, even members of the president's own party are running out of patience with the relentless pursuit of his failed Iraq policy. Why on earth would Congress make a concession to Bush when support to end the war may be climbing? Congress should stand firm. The only real power it has to end this war is to cut off funds. They passed a plan to support our troops and bring them home, and they should do it again. Nothing else will work. And if the president vetoes it, then it is his willful behavior alone that is standing in the way of what our troops need.

Edwards is alone among the top tier candidates to have rolled out detailed plans on the issues.

Edwards Announces Plan for Universal Health Care
Edwards Lays Out Comprehensive Proposal To Enact His Plan For Iraq
Edwards Announces Rural Recovery Act; Plan would restore economic fairness and help struggling towns
Edwards Announces College Opportunity Agenda

Universal Health Care, Iraq, Rural Recovery, College Opportunity. No other candidate has laid out in such detail their plans for these and other issues important to the voters. That gives Edwards a leg up in this department.

How does Edwards measure up in the fundraising department? He finished behind Barak Obama and Hillary Clinton in first quarter fundraising numbers. That's the bad news. The good news is that Edwards did raise enough money to execute his campaign plan. Here's what the Edwards campaign had to say about the first quarter fundraising numbers:

Edwards Campaign Raises More Than $14 Million During 1st Quarter
John Edwards for President Apr 1, 2007

Chapel Hill, North Carolina – The John Edwards for President campaign announced today that it raised in excess of $14 million during the first quarter fundraising period, far exceeding its budget and nearly doubling the amount Edwards raised during the first quarter in 2003. Americans from across the country and from a wide range of backgrounds supported Senator Edwards' campaign to start changing America today with big, bold ideas.
First quarter fundraising figures from the John Edwards for President campaign include:
More than $14 million raised total.
More than 40,000 contributors from across the country.
80 percent of contributions were $100 or less.
$3.3 million raised from online contributions.
Around $1 million raised in general election funds.

It remains to be seen if Obama and Clinton can continue their torrid fundraising pace into the second quarter. If they do, Edwards will have to pick up the fundraising pace to be competitive with the air time buys of the other two candidates.

John Edwards has assembled a first rate campaign staff. In Iowa, he has many of the same people who helped him to his stunning second place finish in 2004. The Edwards campaign just recently announced:

Joe Trippi Joins The John Edwards For President Campaign

Primary campaign strategy will either be Edwards crowning glory or his Achilles heel. Like a riverboat gambler, Edwards has bet the house on Iowa. In addition to assembling a superb staff in Iowa, he has been practically living there the last 4 years. So far, it is paying off. Edwards leads the polls in Iowa. Last cycle, John Kerry won Iowa and the rest was history. Will history repeat itself?

The Democrats have tweaked the primary schedule this year. Nevada follows Iowa with a caucus this cycle. Although recent polls show Hillary Clinton with a commanding lead, Nevada presents some interesting opportunities for other candidates to fare better than anticipated in the Nevada caucus. Nevada is heavily unionized and John Edwards has worked hard to be the favorite son of unions this cycle. Hispanics make up a large voting block in Nevada, something that New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson hopes to capitalize on. Those factors could cause some surprises to people who only focus on the polls in Nevada.

Early momentum from Iowa and Nevada could make Edwards the apparent front runner heading into New Hampshire and South Carolina, Edwards birth state. Florida's recent legislation moving its primary up to January 29th has still to be figured into this mix. Also, John Edwards beats every other Republican contender in head to head match up polls.

John Edwards message and values reaches me. His call for One America, his stance on Iraq, and his ability to clearly communicate his values resonates with me. His very human reaction to his wife Elizabeth's struggle with cancer resonates with me. There is nothing I don't like about Edwards. OK, $400 haircuts don't excite me all that much. But that, aside, Edwards would be a nominee that I would be excited to support. And best of all, Edwards can win the White House in 2008.


Librarian 2 said...

I saw JE at the Florida dem convention and he was thoughtful and sincere. He has used his time since the 2004 election to work for solutions on poverty. He has traveled around the world meeting with women and men in gov't. He is ready. I have contributed to his campaign (inter alia) and would be happy to work for him.

gatordem said...

Edwards is definitely a candidate I could whole heatedly support.

Sunny said...

I believe JE will be appointed to a Cabinet position in the upcoming Dem administration simply because his message is honest and "for the people".

But I feel most Americans are hoping to put the last few Presidency's behind them...and Edwards-as a previous candidate-carries a tinge of the past.

That works against him, I'm afraid.

gatordem said...

Hillary Clinton carries much more than a tinge of the past. It hasn't seemed to have hurt her in the polls - so far.

I agree that elections are about the future. Although Edwards has run before, his message is all about the future, working to change America into a better country for all of us.

Jennifer said...

It seems to me that you are either misrepresenting yourself to us as being undecided or your misrepresenting yourself to the St. Petersburg chapter of the John Edwards OneCorps where you not only claim to support the candidate for president, but act as the chapter captain for the group. How do you reconcile this apparent inconsistancy?

gatordem said...


I thought I did this for you privately already, but I'll try again. I am undecided between Edwards and Obama. At the moment, I would be equally happy with either candidate as the nominee of our party. Consequently, I am keeping in touch with both campaigns. I find this neither dishonest or unethical, so I must diagree with your characterization.

This is apparently making some people unhappy. I am sorry to be causing discomfort, but I am also in some discomfort until I make my choice.

Jennifer said...

There's a difference between "keeping in touch with a campaign" and having a leadership position in a campaign where you claim to support that candidate. That part of my question you didn't address - which is why I asked about it again.

gatordem said...


I'm not really sure why this is any of your business.

Having said that, perhaps you need to take a close read of this Overview diary:

Jennifer said...

You made it everyone's business when you began writing about it. Welcome to the blogosphere!

Jennifer said...

You honestly don't see how being the leader of a John Edwards OneCorps where you are responsible for recruiting people to join his campaign and organize service projects in his name might pose a problem given that you're undecided? There are 15 people in your charge who are committed to his campaign. The chapter captain is someone who should be the most committed among them. You said you joined to show your support for John Edwards for President. What are they supposed to make of this new indecision? They're stuck in limbo while you make up your mind. What if you decide to support another candidate? I care about our Democratic grassroots. Their experience in this campaign may determine whether they ever get involved again. We have a responsibility to do right by them.

gatordem said...


My experience tells me that people are more turned off by online flame wars than any problems you are imagining.

If you really want to help the grassroots, you will take this conversation offline.

Jennifer said...

Well, then its a good thing neither of us are engaged in one then. I answered you offline.

Inigo Montoya: You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

Sunny said...

Hillary definitely has a past tinged and singed...I believe her base is cut smack in half with Barack joining the race and I honestly, honestly believe his candidacy caught her completely and totally unaware, especially when he raised so much $$$$.

I would no way compare Edwards to Hillary Clinton. IMHO, he is an unassuming candidate that speaks to the people, not down to the people.

And if anyone visits Smashed Frog, yeah-I'm an Obama gal...but I enjoy hearing about the other candidates...I think this is a fine series...keep up the good work.

Michael Hussey said...

Edwards would win Idaho and South Carolina if the caucas and primary were held today. He also has union support in Nevada. If he wins the first 3 of 4 he could quickly become the frontrunner.