Rips Bush policies in SL whistlestop
Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards breezed through Storm Lake Friday night, briefly discussing the economy, education, and like his Democratic predecessors, health care and the war on Iraq.
Campaigning at Abner Bell's Coffee House at 9 p.m. with another stop in Spencer still to go, the tanned North Carolina Senator, looked rundown after trekking across Northwest Iowa the day after debating the rest of the candidates in Albuquerque.
"I still have the energy for this cause," Edwards said. "Which is to get George Bush out of office."
Running a "man of the people" campaign, Edwards said he comes from a working class family and was the first of his family to attend college. By contrast, he said, Bush is intent on making sure those that have money, keep it.
To reverse the economic downturn, Edwards as president would eliminate provisions in the tax code that send jobs overseas and he would give tax incentives to businesses in areas where joblessness is greatest.
In the last 30 years, Edwards said pay for the working class has increased by 10 percent while the salaries of CEOs has increased by 3,000 percent. He said the Bush administration honors wealth, and if president, Edwards would honor the work that creates it.
"The best way to have an economic recovery in 2004 is to give George Bush another job," Edwards said.
He continued to bash Bush policies by claiming that the No Child Left Behind Act is "leaving millions of kids behind every day."
To improve upon public education, Edwards said he would set forward a national initiative for higher pay for teachers and give bonuses to teachers who work in disadvantaged areas. He also said after school programs need to be increased and every student qualified for collage and willing to work ten hours a week in their first year should receive free tuition.
Like Missouri Rep. Dick Gephardt, former Vermont Governor Howard Dean and Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich before him, Edwards offers a universal health care program, but his plan isn't as all encompassing as the rest. His plan focuses on children first, making free health care a birthright for every child required by law.
His plan would also target the most vulnerable adults and small businesses.
Edwards, like Gephardt and Mass. Sen. John Kerry, voted for the resolution to go to war with Iraq. And like the other two, Edwards said he signed the resolution only in faith that the Bush administration had a plan for managing the aftermath, which Edwards now says is non-existent.
"I said it is critical to have a clear plan," Edwards said. "We have a bunch of men and women who are in a shooting gallery over there."
He said Bush is "finally being dragged kicking and screaming to ask the U.N. for help."
However, Edwards said the two most important issues in his campaign are to strengthen civil rights and restore rights repealed by the US Patriot Act.
"We cannot go back on Civil Rights," he said. "I feel we have personal responsibility to give hope and opportunity to every American. This is not an African American issue, Hispanic-American issue, Asian-American issue. This is an American issue."
Edwards said women make 76 cents on the dollar doing the same jobs men do.
"I believe in an America where the family you're born into, the color of your skin does not control your destiny," he said.