Withdraws 3-4-04




July 29, 2004, 7:58AM

Edwards targets undecided voters;
Kerry wins nomination

Copyright 2004 Houston Chronicle

 Southern senator picked to bring populist warmth to the Democratic ticket promised to take the high road Wednesday in a direct plea to alienated voters.

Aiming his remarks beyond the partisan crowd gathered in Boston, John Edwards called on Americans to "choose hope over despair, possibilities over problems, optimism over cynicism."

Edwards, a trial lawyer whose sunny, down-home appeal helped him win the No. 2 spot on the ticket with John Kerry, saluted the Massachusetts senator as a war-tested hero who was better suited to deal with military conflicts than the current White House occupant.

It was a theme repeated Wednesday night as Democrats gathered at Boston's FleetCenter voted to extend the party's presidential nomination to Kerry, who is locked in a close race with President Bush.

Kerry watched his running mate on television and prepared to deliver his own speech to the convention tonight what experts say could be one of the most important speeches of his campaign.

Convention organizers arranged for delegates from Ohio, a key state in the November election, to cast the votes that put Kerry over the top in the largely symbolic roll call of states late Wednesday.

Earlier, the evening was Edwards' turn at center stage, a prime-time television appearance in a hall brimming with Democrats. Hundreds of delegates, guests and reporters were locked out for about two hours by the Boston fire marshal, who said the FleetCenter was overcrowded .

Edwards did not mention Bush or Vice President Dick Cheney by name, instead aiming his rhetorical jabs at Republicans who he said were "doing all they can to take this campaign for the highest office in the land down the lowest possible road."

The first-term senator from North Carolina urged voters to "reject the tired, old, hateful, negative politics of the past," calling for them to "embrace the politics of hope, the politics of what's possible in America, where everything is possible."

Edwards suggested that Kerry's stint as a naval officer during the Vietnam War gives him a better understanding of conflicts such as the war in Iraq and helps him relate to the troops. Edwards said Kerry's crewmates from more than three decades ago found him "decisive, strong."

"Is this not what we want in a commander in chief?" Edwards asked delegates, who cheered in response.

Reprising themes of economic and social disparity that formed the backbone of his own presidential bid, Edwards said it was time for the White House to stand up for poor and middle-class voters.

"We still live in two different Americas: one for people who lived the American dream and don't have to worry, and another for most Americans who work hard and still struggle to make ends meet," he said.

Although the 51-year-old lawmaker made a fortune as a trial lawyer, he spoke about his roots as the son of a Southern mill worker a modest background that campaign officials hope will appeal to voters who may not relate to Kerry's more elite New England upbringing.

Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie said it was condescending to suggest that Edwards could attract rural and Southern voters "just because he talks with a drawl." Talking to reporters earlier Wednesday, Gillespie said, "Rural voters look at people's policies and the record just like voters in the city do."

A review of Senate voting records by Congressional Quarterly found that Edwards sided with Democrats on major issues and has a slightly more conservative voting record than Kerry.

President Bush and his Republican allies have argued that Edwards has far less experience than Cheney, who has spent more than a quarter-century in public life. They have attacked Edwards' legal practice, saying he won huge settlements and became personally affluent at the expense of health care companies and others.

Republicans have charged that Democrats are insincere when they claim that theirs is a more positive campaign. They have said many of the liberal groups supporting Kerry are running ads that consistently slam Bush.

As an example, Republicans point to liberal filmmaker Michael Moore, who has been making the rounds of convention activities this week. Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11, an anti-war documentary, is critical of the president and his aides.

With polls showing a tight race, Bush, who is staying at his Crawford ranch, has been paying attention to the Democratic convention this week, watching some proceedings on television "from time to time," said White House spokesman Trent Duffy.

Edwards was introduced to convention delegates by his wife, Elizabeth, who grew up on military bases around the world. She said Kerry "has the right stuff."

For much of the day, Democrats sought to bolster their national security credentials at a time when most Americans believe Republicans can better handle the war on terrorism. Bush and Kerry are more closely matched on how voters see their ability to deal with Iraq, surveys show.

Officials released a list of a dozen generals and admirals who had endorsed Kerry and Edwards, including former presidential contender Gen. Wesley Clark and Adm. Stansfield Turner, who was CIA director from 1977 to 1981.

The Democrats also heard from Gen. John Shalikashvili, who was chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 1993 to 1997 and who said Kerry "knows from experience a commander's responsibility is to his troops."

In a slap at Bush, Shalikashvili said, "We should never go to war without a comprehensive plan for how to secure the peace once military victory has been won."

Although both Kerry and Edwards voted to grant Bush authorization to invade Iraq, they have since argued they would have overseen the occupation differently. Last year, both voted against authorizing $87 billion in military and reconstruction aid for Iraq and Afghanistan.

Kerry has said he would pressure NATO members to deploy troops in Iraq, even though Germany and France recently rejected such a move. He has also said he would try to get other countries to pay more of the reconstruction costs in Iraq.

In other ways, Kerry has not articulated significant differences with Bush. He has not called for a complete or partial pullout of U.S. troops from Iraq, nor has he said he regretted his vote to authorize the war.

Wednesday, the Republican National Committee released an 11-minute video that uses Kerry's own words to show his changing rhetoric on the Iraq war. The video, produced by Laura Crawford of the Texas firm Crawford Creative, was

e-mailed to about 8 million supporters.

Gillespie said he had asked Miramax, which distributed Fahrenheit 9/11, to distribute the Republican video on Kerry.


June 27, 2003

Inside Politics

By Greg Pierce


Scheduling conflicts

"Early this year, Sen. John Edwards loudly announced his opposition to legislation that, he warned, could open the door to new off-shore oil drilling," the Los Angeles Times reports.

"But when a move to block the measure came up in the Senate this month, the North Carolina Democrat was not there. He was in Tennessee, campaigning for president," reporter Richard Simon writes.

"Edwards' tally would have made no difference; his side lost by 10 votes. But his absence that day is illustrative of the growing scheduling dilemma facing him and three other Senate Democrats running for president — Bob Graham of Florida, John F. Kerry of Massachusetts and Joe Lieberman of Connecticut. ...

"Through Tuesday, Kerry has missed 43 percent of the 242 votes taken in the Senate; Lieberman, 29 percent; Edwards, 19 percent; and Graham, 17 percent. Excluded from these figures were votes missed by Graham and Kerry due to surgeries they underwent earlier this year."

Missouri Rep. Richard A. Gephardt, another Democrat running for president, has missed 89 percent of 311 House votes this year through Tuesday, the newspaper said. Ohio Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich, by contrast, has maintained a perfect attendance record despite his entry into the Democratic presidential contest.

'Silly and farfetched'

There is simply no reason to take retired Gen. Wesley Clark seriously as a contender for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2004, political analyst Stuart Rothenberg writes. "No reason at all."

Mr. Clark apparently wants to be drafted into the race, like Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1952, Mr. Rothenberg said in Roll Call.

"Clark's ideal scenario is as follows: When the Democratic race fails to produce a clear front-runner this summer, party leaders and grass-roots activists start looking for a fresh face who can neutralize President Bush's advantage on defense and foreign-policy issues. That's when they turn to Clark, who has no domestic record to defend and can take on Bush on Afghanistan and Iraq.

"It's an entertaining scenario, even if it is silly and farfetched. While Clark is a former Rhodes scholar and, like Ike, a former NATO supreme commander, he simply isn't Eisenhower. Not even close."

Cheap shots

"Thirteen months ago, Senator Hillary Clinton rose on the Senate floor to demand answers to questions about what President Bush knew about the September 11 attacks before those attacks occurred," Hugh Hewitt writes at the Weekly Standard Web site (

"Dick Gephardt (then minority leader in the House) echoed the demand, asking 'what the president and what the White House knew about events leading up to 9/11, when they knew it, and most importantly, what was done about it at the time.' The Notebook editors at the New Republic couldn't resist a little second-guessing of their own — directed at Attorney General John Ashcroft's post-attack request for a higher budget for counterterrorism: 'Someone should ask why he didn't mobilize some of those resources beforehand,' scolded the magazine in its June 17, 2002, issue.

"It's a year later and leading Democrats are again throwing bricks at the president's handling of intelligence. So is the NewRepublic. But this time the charge is that the president overestimated the threat to American security posed by Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. A year ago he was too cold. Now he's too hot. The Democrats and their allies want the president to be just right."

Mr. Hewitt, who hosts a nationally syndicated radio show, added: "It appears as though the public has already concluded that the attacks on Bush of this spring are like the attacks on Bush of last spring — partisan cheap-shots of the worst sort since they concern national security. I think a good majority of the electorate has also come to an intuitive understanding of the key concept: It is OK to overestimate a threat, but, since September 11, it is never OK to underestimate one."

Split verdict

A majority of New Yorkers think President Bush will win a second term in 2004, but a nearly similar percentage predict that his Democratic challenger will capture the state, according to a statewide poll released yesterday.

The president's approval rating among New Yorkers was at 52 percent in the Quinnipiac University poll, down from 58 percent in April. The survey also found that Mr. Bush leads all his potential Democratic opponents, but 57 percent of New Yorkers say a Democrat will win New York in November.

Asked if Mr. Bush will be re-elected, 59 percent of the New York voters surveyed said yes.

"New Yorkers split on how they intend to vote and how they think their neighbors will vote," said Maurice Carroll, director of the Hamden, Conn.-based Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.

The picture changes slightly should New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton end up as the Democratic presidential candidate. She and Mr. Bush tied at 47 percent among New York voters. The former first lady has said she will not run for the White House in 2004, but has not ruled out a race later on.

Should Mrs. Clinton seek the presidency next year, 45 percent of New York Democrats said they favored her for the party's nomination. Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, at 13 percent, was second, and Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts was at 10 percent. No other Democrat breaks into double digits in the poll when Mrs. Clinton is in the mix, the Associated Press reports.

Without Mrs. Clinton, Mr. Lieberman leads the Democratic pack in New York, at 23 percent; followed by Mr. Kerry, at 14 percent; and New York's Al Sharpton, at 11 percent. All other Democratic contenders are in single digits.

Among all New York voters, Mr. Bush leads Mr. Lieberman, 49 percent to 43 percent; and tops Mr. Kerry, 48 percent to 43 percent.

Bias virus

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Bill Thomas, California Republican, never afraid to pick a fight, accused The Washington Post yesterday of misleading readers about his prescription-drug bill.

A story in yesterday's Post featured low-income seniors struggling to pay their prescription-drugs bills. Mr. Thomas said he read the entire Post article and that "nowhere in that story" did it say that his bill would actually cover such impoverished seniors.

The people in question would pay no premiums, no deductibles and would not be subject to a gap in coverage, he said. All they would have to pay is a $2 co-pay for generic drugs and a $5 co-pay for prescription drugs.

So bad was the front-page story — datelined from Cleveland — that Mr. Thomas lumped the paper in with the New York Times, recently exposed for printing outright fabrications.

The "virus," he said during a press conference, that "attacked The New York Times has apparently migrated down the coast."

Right all along?

Ed Gillespie, who is acting as a senior adviser to the Republican National Committee while he waits to become party chairman next month, took a shot at Howard Dean and other Democratic presidential candidates yesterday.

"Democratic presidential candidates continue to find political expedience in appealing to the antiwar activists in their party. Howard Dean positions his opposition to the war as an act of 'political courage' and says he was 'right all along,' and other presidential contenders are following his lead," Mr. Gillespie said in a prepared statement.

"But what are they 'right all along' about? Their policy is this: When presented with the widely shared conclusion that a dictator with a history of using weapons of mass destruction is developing more, in defiance of an international order, the United States will not act until after such weapons have been used — perhaps, even, against us.

"That is a policy destined for failure, or worse, tragedy."

•Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or

Some elderly faced with choice of medicine or food

Shannon Blosser

Star Staff Writer

SHELBY — Ann Marsh makes a difficult decision each month.

Does she go to the pharmacy and get her prescriptions filled for the month or does she go to the grocery story to purchase her food?

Ms. Marsh is not alone in her decision process each month. According to Amanda Hoyle, In Home Service coordinator for the Cleveland County Council on Aging, about 25 to 30 percent of seniors the agency serves make that decision every month.

“We are all on a limited budget,” said Ms. Marsh, who estimated her prescriptions cost about $200 per month. “It’s not just me. It’s a lot of seniors.”

Situations like Ms. Marsh’s led Congress to pass a Medicare prescription drug plan early Friday morning. The legislation now heads to conference committee since the House and Senate versions of the bill are different.

As the bill takes its final shape, some local residents say they are optimistically concerned about the program’s prospects.

“I’m waiting to see what it looks like,” said Ms. Hoyle. “I want to see it in writing.”

For the most part, the legislation would create a drug benefit plan while providing a new role for private health plans in Medicare. Difference exists in the House and Senate bill on how much of the drug costs the government would pay after Medicare participants pay a monthly premium and annual deductible.

North Carolina’s congressional delegation split on the legislation. In the House, seven of 12 representatives voted against the plan. Tenth District Rep. Cass Ballenger voted in favor of it.

In the Senate, Republican Sen. Elizabeth Dole voted for the plan. Democrat and presidential candidate John Edwards voted against.

“We don’t know how it’s going to end up,” said Shelby Family Practice physician Dr. Larry Smith. “Once the bureaucrats start setting the rules, it could be a whole new, different plan.”

Smith said he has two major concerns — the impact the plan may have on existing programs and Medicare’s role in the prescription drug business.

According to Smith, some current drug benefit plans allow patients to pay less for prescription drugs. One plan, Smith said, allows patients to pay about $15 for some drugs.

Smith also said the government’s efforts to control drug costs could decrease the amount of sample drugs companies will provide physicians. Those samples, Smith said, are usually given to patients who can not afford the prescription.

“There are good sides and there are bad sides,” said Smith. “It’s too early to know.”

Besides the prescription drug costs, Smith said he was concerned that Medicare would tell doctors what drugs to prescribe.

“My concern is, ‘Will it restrict the care we can give to people,’” said Smith.


Albright said lowering the cost in prescription drugs could hinder the operations of his business. Currently Albright’s business makes less than 20 percent in profits from the prescription it fills. A cut in costs could lower that to 12 to 13 percent, he said.

“That is getting into the overhead costs,” Smith said. “… That is the big thing I’m worried about.”

Albright said the cuts would not only affect locally owned pharmacies, but also larger companies as well.

“If a lot of pharmacies take a big hit, a lot are going to go out of business,” said Smith.

Ms. Hoyle and Ms. Marsh said they are concerned about the costs senior citizens would have to pay under the plan. Ms. Marsh, in particular, said she did not want to see Medicare premiums rise because of the plan.

In 2010, the House version of the bill calls for Medicare’s prices to compete with private plans, which could increase premiums by as much as 25 percent, according to a Medicare report.

“It could help if it doesn’t run up the cost of Medicare,” Ms. Marsh said. “It could help us in the long run.”


Democrat Edwards Takes Lead In South Carolina

POSTED: 12:43 PM EDT September 30, 2003

WASHINGTON -- Democrat John Edwards has grabbed the lead in South Carolina, according to a poll released Tuesday that shows the North Carolina senator as the only presidential candidate in double digits.


Age: 50

DOB: June 10, 1953

Education: Bachelor's degree, NCSU 1974

Law degree, UNC 1977

Experience: Elected U.S. senator in 1998; trial lawyer in Nashville, Tenn., and Raleigh for two decades

Family: Wife, Elizabeth Anania Edwards. Children: Cate, 21; Emma Claire, 5; Jack, 3. Sixteen-year-old son Wade died in a 1996 traffic accident.

Quote:"If the American people want a lifelong politician in the White House, that's not me. ... If they want instead somebody who is closer to them, more connected to them, has spent his entire life fighting for them and comes from them, that is me."


More than four in 10 of those questioned, 42 percent, remain undecided in the survey of South Carolina voters conducted by the American Research Group of Manchester, N.H. Edwards was at 16 percent in the poll.

Sen. Joe Lieberman, of Connecticut, and Edwards were essentially tied in an August poll by the same firm, with Lieberman at 14 percent and Edwards at 10 percent. Edwards is counting on a strong performance in South Carolina, which is not only a neighboring state but also his native state. Edwards was born in Seneca, S.C.; his family moved to North Carolina when he was a child.

Other recent state polls have shown several candidates together at the top and a large number of undecided voters.

Lieberman, who led in South Carolina earlier this year, was at 7 percent with Wesley Clark, who recently entered the race. Howard Dean, the former Vermont governor, was at 6 percent, and Sen. John Kerry, of Massachusetts, Rep. Dick Gephardt, of Missouri, and Al Sharpton were at 5 percent.

Carol Moseley Braun was at 4 percent, Sen. Bob Graham, of Florida, was at 2 percent and Rep. Dennis Kucinich, of Ohio, was at 1 percent.

The poll of 600 voters who say they're likely to vote in the Democratic primary was conducted Sept. 25-29 and had a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

South Carolina holds its Democratic primary on Feb. 3.

Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All rights reserved

Posted 3/3/2004

Edwards ends presidential campaign


John Edwards ended his Democratic campaign for president Wednesday, concluding a bid that saw him rise from a pack of candidates to become John Kerry's sole major challenger.
Sen. John Edwards announces the end of his presidential bid Wednesday. "Today, I have decided to suspend my campaign for the presidency of the United States," Edwards said at a farewell rally in Raleigh. He said Kerry "has what it be president of the United States, and I intend to do everything in my power" to aid him (Edwards calls it quits).

The announcement comes one day after Edwards was beaten badly in the Super Tuesday primaries and caucuses, losing all 10 contests. Kerry claimed nine of them, with former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean winning the other.

The freshman senator's political skills and message about "two Americas" one for the rich and the other for everyone else got him to the finals but couldn't get him past a colleague with a military record and decades in public life.

He returned to that theme Wednesday, urging his supporters to unite for the Democratic cause.

"You should not step back. You should step up," he said. "It is up to every one of you to make sure that our America, our children, can prosper and grow."

Kerry likes to say he is a good closer, but he nearly met his match in Edwards: a trial lawyer renowned in his home state for his compelling courtroom summations. Time after time, in Iowa, Tennessee and Wisconsin, Edwards surged to strong second-place showings behind Kerry.

As late as Tuesday, Edwards' campaign announced itineraries for next week's Southern primary states, which include Texas and Louisiana. But interviews with voters leaving the polls signaled a Kerry blowout.

Looking back on the season, one aide said he wished Edwards had spent more time in Oklahoma. A couple of thousand more votes there would have put him in first, knocked Wesley Clark out of the race earlier and given Edwards a clear shot at Kerry the following week in Tennessee and Virginia. Instead, Kerry won those races, undermining Edwards' claim to be the great hope of Democrats to carry the South come November.

Though Democrats were gravitating to Kerry, Edwards passed up the chance to make pointed comparisons at Thursday's primetime debate in Los Angeles. He did go after Kerry on Sunday in New York, but his attacks were mild, and the debate was in a morning time slot with few viewers.

Although he had his arms out and thumbs up throughout the weekend, the smile faded on the stump Monday. And in a sign of lagging confidence, he was cutting his usual speech nearly in half.

Voters consistently gave Edwards high marks for his positive message, and his approval ratings topped the field. He scarcely missed an opportunity to talk about his upbringing as the son of a textile mill worker who lost his job when the factory closed. Yet his sunny side and common-man approach didn't give Democrats enough reason to choose him over Kerry.

Edwards' appealing campaign style and high positives should serve him well in the future, Democratic strategists suggest. He is regularly mentioned for the vice presidential slot on the Democratic ticket, and if Bush were re-elected in November, Edwards could run again in 2008.

Kerry has said he will "try to find the best person" as his running mate. While remaining noncommittal on whom that might be, Kerry said, "There is no doubt John Edwards brings a compelling voice to our party."

Edwards, 50, became a millionaire as a plaintiff's trial lawyer, making most of his money in medical malpractice cases. His 1998 election to the Senate was his first attempt at public office.

At the beginning of the year, Dean was viewed as the front-runner, while both Kerry and Edwards were far back in the pack. Edwards rose dramatically after an unexpectedly strong second-place finish in Iowa. He won only a single state South Carolina, where he was born despite a string of strong second-place finishes.

He had been poised to withdraw on at least three previous election nights, beginning with South Carolina's primary a month ago, spokeswoman Jennifer Palmieri said. But each week he found something in the returns encouraging enough to continue until Kerry won so many delegates Tuesday night.

"There was too big a gap," Palmieri said.

Contributing: USA TODAY's Jill Lawrence, Tom Vanden Brook and Martin Kasindorf and The Associated Press.