As the countdown to the caucus climaxes, John Edwards, Democratic former Senator of North Carolina, brought a final appeal for support to a crowd of about 125 gathered at the Estelle Siebens Science Center on the Buena Vista University campus Monday morning.
Edwards, who is counting on a strong showing in Iowa to bolster his hopes to win the nomination, cites a recent surge in the polls, many of which now show him close to Obama and Clinton. He feels his attack on rich corporations and special interests is fueling his campaign's success against his better-funded opponents.
Roxanne Conlin, former candidate for Iowa governor, spoke on Edwards' fight for the eradication of poverty and his emphasis on rural America. Ben Jones, former congressman from Georgia and best known as "Cooter" from The Dukes of Hazzard TV show, introduced Edwards.
"All the attention of America and the election is on Iowa right now," Jones said. "The Democratic party came from around here, but the blue states are all on the coasts. Why is the heartland red? We're the people's party, and Edwards will bring the party back to the people."
The candidate brought his youngest children out with him to meet the crowd. While they quickly retreated, much of his speech revolved around looking out for the future of our children.
"Let's take care of the issues now so our children won't have to," Edwards said.
Edwards connected to his viewers by discussing family and midwest, rural values. He told the audience America needs a president who will tackle the issues and is not afraid to stand up for him or herself and fight for what they believe in.
"The richest are getting richer, and America knows it," Edwards said. "The big corporations control what happens. It is very personal what is happening to the country." Clearly stating he has never accepted money from lobbyists, Edwards plans to fight powerful corporations and special interest in the same way he said he did as an attorney.
"You don't win by being nice," he said.
"Farmers are having a horrible time surviving," Edwards added. He wants to put the power into the hands of the middle-class farmer, as opposed to farming corporations.
Edwards also said he would push for a moratorium against building more big livestock confinements, and extend that to include a moratorium against expanding existing large confinements. Developments like biofuels, he said, will be the future.
Edwards has written an 80-page book detailing what he plans to do as president, and encourages the public to hold him to it.
"It's not worth the paper it's written on unless the president is willing to fight for change," Edwards said.
Edwards discussed former presidents Teddy Roosevelt and Harry S. Truman, making the point that he is ready to take on the big corporation and re-establish the middle class.
Edwards briefly fielded questions. On the environment, he said he wants to encourage more air and water conservation measures, as well as encourage alternative fuels including ethanol.
On trade and policies with China, Edwards said President George W. Bush has ignored the issues.
"We need to be more vigorous on trade, inspections, more diplomatic and economic policies, and more pressure," Edwards said. "My wife Elizabeth had a hard time finding toys for our children this year for Christmas that were not made in China." Edwards stressed the need to uphold our relationship with China.
When asked about bio-terrorism and the war in Iraq, Edwards said he wants third-world countries and the Muslim world to see America as a country that wants to help. The country cannot be bullying and arrogant as Edwards said Bush has been.
The most recent Des Moines Register poll has Edwards at 24 percent, one percentage point behind Hillary Clinton and eight behind Barack Obama in Iowa.