Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Edwards' Bus Tour Stops in Marshalltown

John Edwards stopped in Marshalltown on Monday evening on the first day of his 8 day bus tour across Iowa. Edwards spoke in front of 154 people at Marshalltown High School. A long time Marshalltown Democrat and former county chair told me this was the first time a presidential candidate has come to the High School.

This was my 8th time seeing Sen. Edwards and I noticed some differences tonight compared to past speeches. First, the message was toned down. A couple months ago the headlines were about John Edwards being too angry. Tonight, Edwards took the high road and even joked about the silly campaign antics of Clinton and Obama arguing about a Kindergarten essay. A few times throughout the event Edwards made distinctions on policy with Clinton and Obama, but they were very minor.

I also noticed more emphasis on his rural upbringing. Edwards mentioned growing up with the same kind of people, being born in a small town, and yes, being the son of a mill worker.

Edwards stayed on his theme of power in America being concentrated in the hands of a few. The problem is that regular people are being left behind and their voices aren't being heard. He mentioned problems in health care, the prescription drug plan, and Blackwater and other paid mercenaries running around Iraq. Edwards brought up unfair trade agreements that ship jobs overseas more than he has in past events.

He discussed the responsibility of leaving a better country, calling it the moral test of our generation.

He then told the story of James Lowe, who was born with a clef pallet that was easily fixable and was unable to speak. However, Mr. Lowe did not have health care and could not get it fixed until, through the generosity of others, had the simple operation when he was 50.

James Lowe finally got his voice. Now it's time for you to get yours.
Edwards then transitioned into his new theme of America rising.
...the great thing about America -- and this has happened over and over in this country's history -- when America's faced with great obstacles, what do the American people do? They rose up; they stood up; they spoke up; they faced these challenges, and they brought about the change America needs. Well, we're in that place again. It's time for us to stand up. It's time for us to rise up.

Edwards opened it up for questions, which I shot some video with my digital camera of a few of his responses.

There is a proposed coal-fired power plant in Marshalltown. A citizen who is concerned about the power plant asks Edwards about coal plants and the importance of conservation.

Here Edwards is asked about No Child Left Behind. This was the first time that I have heard him say that he might totally ditch the law.

John Edwards ended his speech by asking people to caucus for him, but then did something a little unusual. He said that if he wants you to caucus for him then it is his responsibility to answer every question.

I thought the entire event was very good. Edwards was on message, he drew distinctions between himself and the other candidates, and his rhetoric was toned down. He gave a very good final push and came across as a nice guy with bold ideas who will stand up and fight.

I drew a different feeling from observing the audience. At times, when I expected more applause, there were little. However, when I looked at the crowd I would see heads nodding up and down in agreement. These people weren't here to cheer on their candidate. These were undecided voters who are thinking long and hard about who they want as their next president. The question is if they will be rising in support for Edwards on caucus night.


Danielle in Iowa said...

I noticed the same thing with applause at the Ames event last week. I have been to so many events where there has been automatic applause at almost every talking point, that it seemed eerily quiet, but I think it actually worked well as people seemed to be listening in earnest.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting the videos as well as your thoughts. I haven't even seen Edwards eight times this year!


noneed4thneed said...

I have been to a lot of events, but then again I don't have a young one at home, so it is easier for me to get out and about.

I have seen Edwards 8 times, Obama 7, Biden 6, Dodd 4, Richardson 4, and Clinton 3, Huckabee once, and Tancredo once.

I'd like to see Romney and Ron Paul before the circus rolls out of town.

Ben said...

I'm going to see Edwards on Thursday night in Indianola. It'll be interesting to see how similar the stops on this tour are.

benny06 said...

Excellent report, balanced, as usual.