'Bring it on'
Sen. John Edwards, Dem.-N.C. told an overflow crowd at Baker's Court Monday afternoon that America needs a new change and that he's the man who can do it.
Flush with an endorsement from the state's largest newspaper and from its state treasurer, the North Carolina Democrat looked every bit the part of a revitalized campaigner.
Edwards claimed some Democratic credibility by saying he has voted against the President more times than any other senator in the last year.
"We have come from nowhere and are going to go all the way to the White House," he said to a delighted crowd. "Cynics say we can't do it, but this country wasn't built by cynics. I have laid it out and we are going to win this race."
Edwards said he knows he can win because he has many tough opponents and he has always come out on top.
"Nobody thought I could take on the Jesse Helms machine in North Carolina, let alone win," he said. "Well, I did and I won. Just like I beat corporate lawyers in courtrooms battling for people like you."
But things are different now, Edwards said - the country had been through a "sea change in the last 20 years."
"What has happened to a strong middle class, the one that helped hold this country together," he asked. "Now we have a struggling middle class that doesn't have a savings.
"It is more likely that children today will see their parents go through bankruptcy than through a divorce."
Edwards claimed he is a winner and that he has broad appeal.
"The South isn't owned by George Bush," he said. "And I can win in every part of the country. I can in the North, the West and the East. And, with this accent, I can darn sure take the South."
The audience burst into laughter and applause. "There are two Americas these days, one who has it all and one who is living from paycheck to paycheck," Edwards said. "We can't continue to build a great country where we have two separate school systems, two separate tax codes and where people are losing their jobs."
Edwards said the United States and its government have a moral obligation to end poverty and help create a job-friendly environment in the country.
He said that George Bush wants a values debate during the race for the White House and that some Democrats want to talk about their agenda rather than engage the Republicans in such a debate.
"I say bring it on," Edwards said to a cheering crowd. "If he wants a values debate after what he's done to this country, I say bring it on. I want to have a values debate because we need to talk about poverty in this country, about disappearing jobs, about health care, about education and about reestablishing our relations with the rest of the world."