Recently,on October 14th, I had the opportunity to meet and interview John Edwards and get to see him speak to a small audience in North Carolina. Some of the notable points of the evening were the following.
First, the Lieberman Kyl bill had just been voted on by the Senate, and Edwards was already going on the offensive on Clinton's vote in support of that bill.
At that point, there had been no threats or sanctions by Bush or Cheney, yet Edwards was already ahead of the curve on the danger of supporting this bill. Now Iowa voters are catching on, and are even booing Clinton at Iowa rallies for this vote.
At issue: Clinton's vote in support of a recent Senate amendment. And this time Edwards' criticism stirred some clear anti-Clinton sentiment.
The amendment–sponsored by Sens. Joe Lieberman, I-Connecticut, and Jon Kyl, R-Arizona–calls for labeling the Iranian Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization. The former North Carolina senator first commended senators Joe Biden, D-Delaware, and Chris Dodd, D-Connecticut, for voting against it, but he then added, "Sen. Clinton voted 'yes.'"
That statement was followed by an immediate round of booing.
Edwards claims the amendment would "pave the way for Bush to continue to march forward on Iran."
"I didn't understand it," Edwards said. "And then I saw a story in the New York Times [that] quoted some of her supporters explaining why she did it, and the explanation was–I want to get this right–that she was moving from primary mode to general election mode."
A New York Times article from October 14 claimed Clinton's backers have said privately that she is now switching to general election mode, which would imply she's running as the presumptive nominee.
That prompted one supporter to shout, "Like hell!"
It seems like people in Iowa, like the people I saw this weekend at the War protest, are not comfortable with someone who is going to vote for more war. And whether it was Senator Clinton's intention to embolden Bush to push for more aggressive actions towards Iran or not, DOES NOT MATTER. What matters is that she is voting with the neo cons for pro war bills when she should be joining Dodd on the FISA fillibuster, or HOW ABOUT INTRODUCING BILLS TO END THE WAR? It doesn't matter if they will get the 60 votes or not, it will at least get the focus off of Bills to censure Pete Stark and Move On and away from Bills like Lieberman Kyl.
At a political meeting, this week I had a former Republican who still in touch with his old friends tell me that one of his associates had been approached about BEING SELECTED FOR THE NEW DRAFT BOARD.
At the war protests, I actually had Ron Paul activists tell me that Ron Paul is the true anti-war candidate, because Clinton is supporting Bush.
That is right, Clinton's vote is being interpreted as the Democratic agenda, because she is the 'frontrunner.' I say no thank you to that.
As for why Kos is wrong, when Edwards took public financing, Kos said it was 'dangerous' to support Edwards, because he wouldn't have the money that other candidates (like Clinton) would have.
All along, I have maintained, as others have from our collective experience with the Kerry-Edwards campaign, you can have all the money in the world, but if you don't have ideas and leadership, you won't win.
Question - For the bloggers out there, some people have said taking public finance is a bad thing, what do you have to say about public finance?
A - It is very hard to say you are for public finance and then reject it. It is a matter of principle. I have plenty of money to run my campaign. I think we need to have an election not an auction.
Who raises the most money does not make the best president.
I think what makes a good president is having the ideas and the capacity to lead.
That is what made the most sense to me. What matters more - Hillary Clinton's money or her decision to support Lieberman Kyl and emboldened the neocons?
I don't care if every poll in the nation says Hillary is going to be the president, votes like that and her dismissive attitude to us, the actual democratic voters... is what should matter to us more.
Rolph was surrounded by reporters and said he felt the need to stand his ground when Clinton challenged him: "She tried to ... accuse me of using someone else's words and being stupid. And that offended me. I felt the need to defend myself in view of that kind of comment."
(It is interesting to note, that John did not know I was interviewing him at first, and if you watch, as he approaches me, he is just a genuinely concerned person and that does not change even after he knows he is on camera.)
More from Edwards on the folly of aligning with the Neo-cons:
I believe this war in Iraq needs to be brought to an end, that means an end to combat missions in Iraq. Senator Clinton believes we should continue combat missions in Iraq.
Her explanation for this is that there terrorists are operating in Iraq. That sounds strangely familiar to me. We have a president who says the same thing.
This is an argument between more war and less war. I want the argument (in the debates against the republican in the general) to war versus no war.
On Lieberman Kyl:
You can guess who wants the Iranian Guard designated a terrorist organization? George Bush.
Biden and Dodd, to their credit, voted no. I was strongly opposed to it.
How long does it take us to learn our lesson about George Bush?
You give this guy an inch, he will take a mile.
Senator Clinton voted Yes,
What I am worried about - so in 6 months when George Bush invades Iran, are going to hear (her say)
"if I only knew then what I know now."
On changing the world for the better and to build goodwill:
Instead of 500 billion in Iraq, we could give primary education to 100 million children in the world who don't have any education at all, in Africa, Latin America, the Muslim world, all for 3 billion a year.
If we just promoted sanitation and clean drinking water, things we all take for granted - I have seen firsthand from the work I have done in Africa, how much difference that would make in stopping the spread of disease.
Today, there is an entire generation all around the world sitting on the fence. On one side, there is Bin Laden, Al Qaida, Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah, and on the other side is America. Which way do they go?
That depends on us.
On Bush and Cheney:
I listen to George Bush - about as little as I can get away with, but here is what I hear...
Stay home, watch television, go shopping.
me and Dick Cheney, we'll take care of ya'
I don't want that crowd taking care of me!
I don't trust em', that is not America!
We are not a country that cowers in the corner waiting for someone to watch over us. We are strong, we are courageous, we are out there pushing the envelope.
And by the way, when I'm the president of the United States of America, DISSENT WILL ONCE AGAIN BE PATRIOTIC!
Now that sounds like leadership to me. Someone who tells it like it is, whether he is talking to you as an individual, a small crowd, or in front of a national audience.
Not someone showing you one side in person, but really thinking of triangulating to appeal to some neo-con ideology.
We can not afford to pass up this chance to make our candidate answer to we the people.
I for one, have not worked this hard in spite of this administration, just to have a DINO take me and our votes for granted.
That is why I am voting for someone who listens to US! John Edwards for President.
[I edited to include what was in the teaser...Betsy]