Sunday, May 27, 2007

John Edwards in Marengo

I attended an event in Marengo held by John Edwards on Saturday. The event was supposed to take place at the public library, but was moved outside to a park because the expected crowd was too large. However, there was also rain in the forecast.

The first speaker was Roxanne Conlin. She gave a very passionate speech telling that she is supporting John Edwards because he has the best chance to win and he will be a great president. She said that we need someone who will be a great president and not someone who will just be better than the current one because that is a pretty low bar. An older gentleman standing next to me leaned over and said you can sure tell she doesn't like Bush. Conlin introduced John and Elizabeth Edwards and right when the music started, the sprinkles began to fall.

Elizabeth Edwards spoke next and cut her remarks short because of the rain. She was talking so fast, it was hard to get direct quotes. Elizabeth Edwards said that as we celebrate Memorial Day, we must remember to truly honor and support the troops. She talked about the mistakes that were made back in Vietnam and we must separate the soldiers from the failed policy and honor the soldiers.

John Edwards then took the microphone. He stayed on the same theme as Elizabeth and said it is not enough to say we support the troops. America must policies that truly support. He then layed out four things he would do to support our troops. First, when our soldiers return he would assess their needs, so we can help them transition back into civilian life. Second, we should have dedicated funding for the VA, so they have the health care they need. Third, we must support the families and narrow the gap in civilian pay and military pay. Finally, we must make sure our soldiers get educational support, job training, and help them with student loans if they need it.

John Edwards then talked about his family put together some care packages this week to send over to our troops in Iraq and he encouraged us to do the same. He concluded by saying that he will stand strongly against this president because this war needs to end and as president he will stand even more strongly in support of the troops.

Before going to questions, John said that his two youngest children were on the trip with them and were going to come this morning. However, Jack asked if dad was going to be giving boring speeches and then decided he would rather stay and swim at the hotel. Sounds like a typical 7 year old.

The first question was from a woman who had returned from volunteering in New Orleans with her husband. She asked what Edwards would do about New Orleans. Edwards said he would have a high level official in the White House that would report directly to the president daily about the progress that is being made. He then talked about his visits to the area and asked where the billions of dollars the government has allocated to the area gone? He said all the work that is being done is by volunteers and faith based groups.

The next question was about global warming, global poverty, and population growth. Edwards joked about him being lucky this isn't a debate because he'd only have 30 seconds to answer. On global warming, he would cap emissions and allow emissions trading. By auctioning off emissions you would raise $30-$40 billion, which would be invested in building the infrastructure for renewable energy. He would put money into Detroit to build more fuel efficient automobiles. He also said that Americans must conserve and be patriotic about something other than war.

On the issue of global poverty, he began talking about terrorism. He said we must find the people like Osama bin Laden that want to do us harm, but we must also need to undermine the causes of terrorism, which is global poverty. He says America should be leading an international effort to expand primary education around the world and provide clean drinking water. He finished saying America needs to be seen as a force for good again. He had a good quote on the issue of population growth where he said sex ed and birth control is not something that should be driven by an ideological agenda like it is now. It needs to be based on scientific facts.

The next question came from a woman who had a relative that was graduating high school and was going into the military. She asked about the situation in Iraq. Edwards talked a little about what he would do as president, but spent most of the time talking about what can be done now. He said Congress has the power to end this war now with their funding authority and they have let America down by sending Bush a bill that has no timetables. This line got loud applause from the crowd. He then said this President is bullheaded and won't listen to the American people. There is a word for doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. The word is insanity.

Edwards was then asked about immigration, but had to cut his answer short because the rain began to come down harder. People congregated under the shelter in the park for pictures and to ask John and Elizabeth questions.

This was the third time I have seen John Edwards, so I knew what some of his answers were going to be. I was hoping to hear some about why we shouldn't call this a global war on terror, which he didn't bring up. I was also hoping that he would be asked about outsourcing of American jobs and free trade versus fair trade. This was a theme of his 2004 campaign and he isn't talking much about it. I also want to know if he would raise CAFE standards on automobiles. He said he would invest money into Detroit to produce more fuel efficient cars. I want to know if he agrees with Obama when Obama called for CAFE standards to increase to 40 mpg.

I really impressed with Edwards' speech at his presidential announcement in Des Moines back in December. He talked about the most pressing issues our country faces and called on us to help fix them. As I wrote back in December...

His call for action is one needed and one you are not likely to see from other candidates.

It is one thing to say this when the camera's are rolling and there are 5,000 people at the event. You do get a taste of this call to action in his email updates, but it is missing from the events in smaller events he holds. However, for these problems to be fixed people in small towns like Marengo and Newton must be the ones the who take action. When the message that people can make a difference in solving the problems we face gets down to rural America, real change can take place.

I am still impressed with Edwards as a candidate, but not quite ready to commit. Edwards knows the issues and tells you honestly about what he would do. It is refreshing to hear him speak from the heart, even when he knows his answer isn't the one you want to hear. When you leave an event, you will know where John Edwards stands on the issues.


benny06 said...

Obama agrees with Edwards about the CAFE standards. Surprised you get alerts but haven't been reading Edwards' issues on his site.

Edwards's energy plan came out in January. Obama's was only very recently.

Richardson is the only one with higher CAFE standards, which I think is great, but hard to achieve when the workforce is not equipped to deal with mass-production of hybrids and the auto makers are dilatory in getting a work plan in place.

Maybe you and others I've seen on the DU are torn between Obama and Edwards, although you hope Gore will run? Your view is shared by many, although I think Edwards is only one with real plans and the others follow. But the media love a good story, in which Obama (and Clinton both) is. Gore is not likely to run after his book which calls out the terrible rhetoric of the media (as they should be called out), and they will try to tear his candidacy apart again. They cannot stand anyone who will give any constructive criticism.

I equate the Obama-Edwards thing this way: I like puppies, but I prefer an experienced dog to have around the house.

noneed4thneed said...

I actually do not want Gore to run. I am pleased with Obama and Edwards. I think they both are strong candidates. What I am looking for from these two is a strong statement on trade supporting Fair Trade and hopefully calling for changes to or getting rid of trade agreements like NAFTA. Whichever candidate makes a stronger stand on this issue will probably win my support.