Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Edwards passes 3.1 million mark in support from labor

North Carolina Association of Educators picks Edwards as the candidate with the strength and vision to compete in battleground states and bring real change to Washington

Chapel Hill, North Carolina – Today, the North Carolina Association of Educators (NCAE) announced its endorsement of John Edwards for president sending Edwards over the 3.1 million member mark in union support. The NCAE, which represents 70,000 teachers, education support professionals and retirees, has endorsed Edwards every time he has run for public office. They supported Edwards’ Senate run in 1998 and, after endorsing him in the 2004 presidential primary, NCAE members traveled to early states to organize other teachers to vote for Edwards.

"We need a leader with the strength and vision to compete in battleground states like North Carolina," said Eddie Davis, president of NCAE. "John Edwards is the candidate who shares our values, understands our issues and offers real and bold solutions. Edwards’ comprehensive education plans borrow from some of the best reform practices we have here in North Carolina- involving expert educators in school reforms and supporting Smart Start, which coordinates education, health care and family support services for children before they enter school. He also understands that teachers, not tests, are the single most important factor in successful schools and has introduced plans to radically overhaul No Child Left Behind, increase incentives for teachers in high-poverty schools, and improve training and mentoring programs for teachers. The greatest challenges to our schools are addressing the needs of children and families who live in poverty. John’s focus on the underserved is meaningful to our members."

"I am honored to receive the endorsement of the NCAE," said Edwards. "Education is an issue that’s very personal to me. I came from a small town in rural North Carolina, but I had public school teachers who taught me to believe I could do just about anything if I worked hard and played by the rules. So I understand why it’s so critical that we fix our education system and make sure that every child in America has the same opportunity to succeed that I had."

In September, Edwards unveiled his plan for "Restoring the Promise of American Schools" based on three guiding principles: every child should be prepared to succeed when they show up in the classroom; every classroom should be led by an excellent teacher; and every teacher should work in an outstanding school. To meet these principles, Edwards proposed a national "Great Promise" partnership to give a quality early childhood education to every four-year-old in the country and the creation of a national "Smart Start" program to improve child care and invest in child health. To help teachers achieve excellence, Edwards proposed reducing classroom sizes and increasing pay for teachers in successful high-poverty schools. He would also give extra support to teachers in the first years of their careers and step up efforts to recruit and train new teachers. Finally, Edwards proposed a complete overhaul of No Child Left Behind, the creation of a School Success Fund to allow teams of experienced educators to spend a year at struggling schools, and launching a "Great Schools" initiative to build or expand 1,000 successful schools.

With the endorsement of the NCAE, Edwards has passed the 3.1 million members mark in union support. Last week Edwards won the endorsement of 11 SEIU state councils, representing over 1 million workers in Iowa, California, Washington, Idaho, Montana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Michigan, West Virginia, Ohio and Oregon. The endorsements will allow these 11 SEIU state councils to organize efforts to turn out caucus goers on Edwards’ behalf within Iowa, and in any other state where the SEIU state councils have also endorsed Edwards. The Iowa Postal Workers Union, representing 3,000 members, also endorsed Edwards last week. In September, Edwards earned the endorsement of the Transport Workers Union of America (200,000 active and retired members), the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America (520,000 active members), the United Steelworkers (1.2 million active members and retirees), and the United Mine Workers of America (105,000 active members and retirees).

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With Trippi's Rise, Some See a New John Edwards

By Chris Cillizza, washingtonpost.com, Tuesday, October 23, 2007; A01

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton may have a widening lead in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination, but John Edwards is not about to give her a free ride.

"Instead of moving from primary mode to general election mode, why don't we have tell-the-truth mode, all the time, and not say something different one time than we say another time?" Edwards asked pointedly last week in New Hampshire.

From the day he announced his candidacy in New Orleans last December, Edwards has presented himself as an outsider, someone much different from the senator who was John F. Kerry's running mate in 2004. But in recent weeks he has launched a markedly more aggressive attack on what he says is Clinton's poll-tested commitment to the status quo, and the new tone to his campaign has coincided with the growing influence of the strategist behind Howard Dean's assault on the Democratic establishment four years ago -- Joe Trippi.

Those who know Edwards best insist that his campaign reflects his own life experiences, including his wife's ongoing battle with cancer, and that in hiring Trippi, a cult figure on the party's left for his role with Dean, Edwards has found someone who can translate his instincts into a coherent campaign message. Trailing Clinton and Barack Obama in the polls, Edwards is basing his campaign on a vision of bold change not shared by either senator.

"Trippi has made him more aggressive and tuned him in to the anger and passion of the Net roots," said Carter Eskew, a senior Democratic strategist not affiliated with any 2008 campaign.

While Trippi was described as a senior adviser when he joined the Edwards campaign in mid-April, he has become much more in the intervening six months: the de facto campaign manager, lead media consultant and -- perhaps most important -- trusted confidante of Elizabeth Edwards, whose influence in the campaign far exceeds that of the conventional candidate's wife.

By all accounts, Elizabeth Edwards and Trippi have developed a close relationship, beginning during their first meeting this spring at the Edwardses' home in Chapel Hill, N.C. An hour and a half into listening to the couple's pitch to join the campaign, Trippi suddenly flinched when his diabetic neuropathy -- a nerve disorder that sends pains shooting through his body at random intervals -- began bothering him. Elizabeth Edwards noticed. And when Trippi started talking about his illness, she told him that she suffers from the same condition.

Still, Trippi turned down the offer to join the campaign. "I told them there was no way I could do it again," Trippi recounted recently. "That I really liked them and really believed they were going to take on a broken system -- but I was not going to do it."

For decades Trippi has been a part of Democratic presidential politics, often working for long shots -- Rep. Richard A. Gephardt in 1988, Jerry Brown in 1992 -- and through a combination of sharp elbows and sharply defined messages transformed them into legitimate candidates.As Dean went from an afterthought in the 2004 presidential race to the Democratic front-runner, Trippi's star rose with him. But when the former Vermont governor finished third in the Iowa caucuses, the campaign was essentially over, and Trippi was suddenly out of a job. And, many assumed, he was out of presidential politics -- a decision seemingly affirmed at his meeting with the Edwardses.

On March 22 all of that changed. In a televised news conference, Elizabeth Edwards announced that her breast cancer had returned but that her husband's campaign would continue. "I sat there in my house with my wife and my neuropathy firing away," Trippi recalled, "and just said, 'You know, I am not done either,' and I picked up the phone and offered to join the campaign."

In an entry on the Edwards campaign blog titled "I'm Signing On," Trippi announced his return. "I really thought that the 2004 presidential campaign would be the last I would be involved in," he wrote. But the decision by the Edwardses to continue the campaign in the face of the return of Elizabeth's cancer "made me realize that I wasn't done trying to make a difference either."

For John Edwards, it was a chance to fix his struggling campaign, which had seen the departure of a number of his original senior staff members, including 2004 campaign manager Nick Baldick. Former congressman David Bonior (Mich.) had been serving as the campaign manager, but his skills were clearly more as a surrogate than a strategist.

Officially, Trippi has been described as part of a trio of advisers that includes pollster Harrison Hickman and longtime adviser Jonathan Prince. But the evidence seemed to suggest that it was Trippi who now had the Edwardses' trust.

In July, the campaign brought on Paul Blank to handle the day-to-day operations of the campaign and Chris Kofinis to head up communications. Both Blank and Kofinis have ties to Trippi: Blank was political director in Dean's campaign before joining Wake Up Wal-Mart, where Trippi served as a consultant. Kofinis was communications director at Wake Up Wal-Mart. At the same time, it was announced that Bonior's role would evolve into serving as a stand-in for the candidate, though he would retain the title of campaign manager.

Then, in mid-August, Marius Penczner, who had served as Edwards's lead media consultant since late 2003, parted ways with the campaign. Trippi, a media consultant by training, took over crafting Edwards's ads, with an assist from Prince.

Trippi declined to discuss his role in the campaign's day-to-day operations. "I hope that I have brought a better focus to the campaign and his message -- and helped better define the differences between the change John Edwards would bring to Washington [versus] the business as usual candidacy of Hillary Clinton," he said.

Asked to explain Trippi's rise within the Edwards inner circle, a former staffer said: "Two words: Elizabeth Edwards." The source, who was granted anonymity to speak candidly, added: "I think Trippi's influence grows daily, and because that influence is Elizabeth-sanctioned it makes it all the more powerful."

Although Trippi plays down the closeness of his relationship with Elizabeth Edwards -- the two have spoken directly only five or six times during the campaign, he said -- it is clear that they share the same ideas about aggressive campaigning.

Take Elizabeth Edwards's decision to confront conservative commentator Ann Coulter during Coulter's appearance on MSNBC's "Hardball." It was Trippi who gave her the number for the show's control room.

Or take the video that Trippi produced for the CNN-YouTube debate that poked fun at the media's obsession with how much John Edwards paid for a haircut. Trippi said Elizabeth Edwards "really liked" that video -- a phenomenon on the Web.

And, in contrast to her husband's campaigns in 2004, when she played a somewhat peripheral role, Elizabeth Edwards often takes the fight to her husband's opponents more aggressively than he does. She was the first to broach the idea that her husband, and not Clinton, is the strongest advocate for women in the race, and she most pointedly questioned whether Obama's voting record in the Senate matched his antiwar rhetoric before joining Congress.

Those familiar with the relationship between Trippi and Elizabeth Edwards offer several reasons for their alliance. One connection is over their health issues. Another is over the Internet. Trippi became interested in how it could be used in politics, and Elizabeth Edwards became fascinated with its power to create social connections while she dealt with her cancer.As David Weinberger, an Internet strategist for Dean and part-time consultant to the Edwards campaign, wrote on the Huffington Post, "during times that could have crushed her -- that would have beaten most of us down -- she found strength in and with others, many on the Internet."

Others say Elizabeth Edwards sees this race as more a cause than a campaign, a belief that makes her and Trippi -- an unapologetic believer in the power of liberal ideals and the overthrow of "transactional politics" -- ideological soulmates.

It's that message -- a fiery, some say angry, populism -- that has drawn attention to John Edwards of late.

One Democratic consultant who has worked with Trippi said the common thread in the majority of the presidential campaigns with which Trippi has been involved is an outrage with the way Washington operates.

A former senior staffer for Dean's presidential campaign said, "Anyone that knows Joe could see a marked difference in the creation of the new John Edwards once Joe came aboard." Trippi, the staffer added, "is an incredibly powerful force on any campaign, and when given a malleable candidate he will have an enormous impact."

The Edwards campaign -- and many people formerly affiliated with it -- reject the notion that the candidate is anything but his own invention.

"This is who he is," Prince said, noting that as far back as his 1998 campaign against Sen. Lauch Faircloth (R-N.C.), Edwards was talking about fighting for the little guy and against special interests. In one ad during that race, Edwards said: "Insurance companies have plenty of lobbyists fighting for them. I don't want to be their senator. I want to be yours."

Prince agreed that the tone of the 2008 campaign is different than that of the 2004 race, explaining that "there is more intense emotion to it, more passion." But, he said, that change is due to Edwards's experiences as the vice presidential nominee, his work on the issue of poverty in 2005 and 2006, and the impact of his wife's cancer diagnosis and relapse. Those developments "make you look up close at what's important," Prince added.

Whoever is more responsible, the question for the campaign is whether it can turn what has been an insurgent effort into something more substantial. For Trippi, it's a question that lingers from Dean's cometlike trajectory.

"The way it ended in Iowa, no one knows if Joe was right or not," said a consultant who has worked with Trippi on past races.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Edwards on Bush's SCHIP veto

John Edwards released the following statement about the unsuccessful Congressional vote on overriding President Bush's veto of legislation to expand SCHIP, the children's health insurance program:

"Today is another sad example of how broken Washington is. Instead of standing up for children and health care, House Republicans have decided to stand up for special interests and lobbyists. From this day forward, House Republicans are on notice. When I am the Democratic nominee, the days of Republican members who voted against children's health care will be numbered. We are taking names and, together, as one party, we will campaign against them."

"Sadly, there is strong message here for Democrats and Republicans. We should never have to consider selling out to lobbyists when it comes to the health of our kids. If universal health care is ever going to be more than a dream, we need to do more than change the president. We need to elect strong Democratic majorities in the House and Senate with the backbone to stand up to the big insurance and drug companies that are going to do everything they can to block universal health care. We need a strong ticket from top to bottom that will compete and win everywhere in America.

"And, when I am the Democratic nominee, we will not only win the White House, we will make every Republican who stands against children's health care pay the price."

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Thursday, October 18, 2007

Former Georgia Governor Endorses Edwards

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 10/18/07

Former Gov. Roy Barnes and former Lt. Gov. Mark Taylor held a Capitol reunion of sorts Thursday, getting together for a press conference to support John Edwards' presidential campaign.

Barnes served as governor, with Taylor as his second-in-charge, from 1999 to 2003. Taylor served another four years as lieutenant governor before running unsuccessfully for governor last year.

Joining Barnes and Taylor at the event were several other elected officials, including two African-American state senators, Valencia Seay (D-Riverdale) and Vincent Fort (D-Atlanta). Last week, Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton was in Atlanta touting her endorsement from black U.S. Reps. John Lewis.

Barnes said Southern Democrats have too often had to tip-toe around their nominees because they weren't popular in the region. He said that won't be the case with Edwards, a former U.S. senator from North Carolina.

"I am ready for a president that talks like I do and I can understand without an interpreter," Barnes added.

Barnes said Clinton will have a difficult time winning the general election because so many Americans have a negative view of her.

"Whether we like it or not, she's a polarizing figure and I think she would have a very difficult time being elected and governing," he said.

Taylor said, "I am ready for a president who can bring people together."

Edwards Wins Massachusetts SEIU Endorsement

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Massachusetts union endorses Edwards

By Jenn Abelson, Boston Globe Staff

Democratic presidential contender John Edwards picked up the backing today from the 90,000-member Massachusetts chapter of the Service Employees International Union.

This is the 11th SEIU affiliate endorsement that the former senator from North Carolina has secured since Monday, representing more than 1 million working families. The other chapters are: California, Idaho, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Ohio, Oregon, Washington, and West Virginia.

"John Edwards understands the everyday struggles of working families," Rocio Saenz, president of SEIU Local 615 in Massachusetts, said in a statement.

SEIU declined to make a national endorsement because no candidate had enough support, so the state chapters were left up to make individual endorsements.

So far, rival Senator Barack Obama has picked up support from his home state SEIU chapter in Illinois and Indiana, representing a total of 170,000 members.

Posted by Foon Rhee, deputy national political editor at 06:07 PM

Monday, October 15, 2007

Edwards Statement Urging Congress To Override Bush Veto Of Children's Health Care

Chapel Hill, North Carolina – Senator John Edwards released the following statement on the debate in Washington over President Bush's veto of legislation to expand children's health insurance to cover 10 million kids:

"There's something wrong when in a country of our wealth, 47 million Americans don't have health care. There is something drastically wrong when 9 million American children—including nearly 50,000 in Iowa—don't have health care.

"President Bush's veto of the S-CHIP bill shows the importance of nominating a candidate and actually electing a president who will not compromise when it comes to children's health care, who will fight the lobbyists and special interests who stand in the way of truly universal health care, and who will never compromise on our Democratic values.

"I urge all Members of Congress to put aside their partisan interests, stand up for the millions of children without health insurance, and override Bush's veto. And if they don't, if the Republicans stand in the way of progress, I am committed when I am the Democratic nominee to make sure that we elect a Congress that will help move this nation forward with the bold change we need, starting with truly universal health care."

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Edwards wins endorsement of Iowa, California and eight other major state SEIU councils

Close to one million SEIU members choose Edwards because he has the strength and vision to win both the primary and the general election.

Des Moines, Iowa – Today, Service Employees International Union (SEIU) state councils from Iowa, California, Washington, Idaho, Montana, Minnesota, Michigan, West Virginia, Ohio and Oregon announced they have endorsed Senator John Edwards for president, totaling close to one million SEIU members.

Representatives from several of the ten state councils joined Edwards for a press conference at the Eckstein Medical Research Building in Iowa City. The endorsements will allow these SEIU state councils, which collectively represent over 930,000 members, to organize efforts to turn out caucus goers on Edwards’ behalf within Iowa, and in any other state where the SEIU state councils have also endorsed Edwards. SEIU state councils across the country will be determining their endorsement decisions in the coming weeks.

“John Edwards is the only Democratic candidate with the vision, leadership and strength needed to win, not just the primary but also the general election,” said Dave Regan, representing the state councils of Ohio and West Virginia. “In the battleground states that I represent, Edwards’ broad appeal and strength at the top of the ticket will help Democrats in races at every level. He will help us build a true mandate that will bring real change to Washington, end the war in Iraq, bring truly universal health care, labor law and immigration reform – and these are the things that will improve the lives of working families across America.”

“As a Registered Nurse who knows first hand the need for health care reform, it's a great honor to announce that the members of SEIU Iowa have chosen to endorse John Edwards for president of the United States,” said Iowa SEIU Local 199 president Cathy Glasson. “In Iowa, we are uniquely positioned to see and hear the candidates, and members are well informed on the issues important to working families. John Edwards earned our support by taking a strong stand on health care and because he offers our members the greatest hope for restoring the American Dream.”

“California SEIU members know that John Edwards will be the best labor president in the history of the United States,” said Sal Rosselli, president of SEIU United Healthcare Workers West. “His proposals are far and away the best among the candidates on the issues that matter most to working Americans. Edwards has taken principled stands on workers’ behalf, when others took more cautious positions on issues that demand bold action.”

Added Tyrone Freeman, president of United Long Term Care Workers West, “We embrace his vision for opportunity for working people, and are proud to join his campaign of optimism, conviction and action that will bridge the divide between the two Americas. We will do everything in our power, in Iowa, California and across America to ensure that he ends up in the White House.”

“John Edwards understands the everyday struggles faced by working families across the country,” said TJ Janssen, a homecare worker from Wenatchee, Washington. “His commitment to ensuring quality affordable health care for every American is why I’m so excited to be supporting his campaign.”

The 2,000 members of the Iowa SEIU voted to endorse Edwards for the Democratic presidential nomination on Thursday evening. On Friday, the membership of the California state council of the SEIU, which represents more than 656,000 working families, also voted to endorse Edwards. SEIU state councils from Washington (103,000 members), Michigan (70,000 members), Idaho (450 members), Montana (500 members), Minnesota (28,000 members), Ohio (22,000 members),West Virginia (4,000 members), and Oregon (46,000 members), also announced their endorsements on Monday.

“SEIU is at the forefront of the fight to make work pay and provide economic security to hardworking families. I have proudly stood with them on the frontlines of the fight for working Americans for years, and I am honored to earn their members’ support in each of these states today,” said Edwards. “Together, I believe we can fix the broken system in Washington that has been rigged by corporate interests, and we can make this country work for regular Americans again.”

The state SEIU endorsements bring Edwards close to the three million mark in union support. In September, Edwards earned the endorsement of the Transport Workers Union of America (200,000 active and retired members), the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America (520,000 active members), the United Steelworkers (1.2 million active members and retirees), and the United Mine Workers of America (105,000 active members and retirees).

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Sunday, October 14, 2007

Edwards Wins Endorsement From Friends Of The Earth Action

Leading environmental group says Edwards has the best policies to halt global warming and protect our planet's natural resources

Manchester, NH – Today at an announcement event in Dover, New Hampshire, Senator John Edwards won the endorsement of Friends of the Earth Action, one of the leading environmental groups in the country.

"John Edwards understands that we must accept responsibility for conserving natural resources and act with urgency to stop the crisis of global warming," said Brent Blackwelder, president of Friends of the Earth Action. "He has led on this issue, with the best plan to halt global warming and protect the environment. He has the strength and courage to stand up to the big corporations that are abusing our planet. And he is the only top-tier candidate in this race who opposes new nuclear plants in the U.S. For these reasons, we trust John Edwards to work for a healthy environment and fight for the rights of regular people in our country and around the world."

Edwards has introduced a detailed agenda to halt global warming and protect the environment. His proposals include:

Capping greenhouse gas pollution starting in 2010 with a cap-and-trade system, and reducing it by 20 percent by 2020 and 80 percent by 2050, as the latest science says is needed to avoid the worst impacts of global warming.

Leading the world to a new climate treaty that commits other countries—including developing nations—to reduce their pollution. Edwards will insist that developing countries join us in this effort, offering to share new clean energy technology and, if necessary, using trade agreements to require binding greenhouse reductions.

Opposing subsidies for new nuclear power plants in the U.S. because they are costly, take too long to build, and generate waste that cannot yet be stored safely and permanently.
Creating a New Energy Economy Fund by auctioning off $10 billion in greenhouse pollution permits and repealing subsidies for big oil companies. The fund will support U.S. research and development in energy technology, help entrepreneurs start new businesses, invest in new carbon-capture and efficient automobile technology and help Americans conserve energy.
Meeting the demand for more electricity through efficiency for the next decade, instead of producing more electricity.

Reversing every harmful environmental executive order and regulation issued by the Bush Administration. Edwards will submit legislation strengthening the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts and restore the "polluter pays" principle in the Superfund.

"For nearly four decades, Friends of the Earth Action has worked to raise awareness about the importance of protecting the environment," said Edwards. "I am honored to receive their support and I look forward to collaborating with them in the future. We must work together to halt global warming and protect our natural resources to ensure our children inherit a healthy planet."

Founded in San Francisco by David Brower, Friends of the Earth Action has for decades been at the forefront of high-profile efforts to create a healthier, more just world. Its members helped found Friends of the Earth International, the world's largest federation of grassroots environmental groups, with member groups in more than 70 countries.

Edwards has already earned the endorsement of several influential environmental leaders in New Hampshire, who serve on his Environmental Leadership Committee:

Environmental Leadership Committee Co-Chairs:
State Representative Jay Phinizy - Chairman of the House Environment and Agriculture Committee
State Representative David Essex - Vice Chairman of the House Environment and Agriculture Committee
Members of the Environmental Leadership Committee:
Joanne Allison Sparks - Environmental activist, North Conway
Maureen Westrick - Founder of the Fertile Valley Initiative, Intervale
Margaret Ridgely - Member of New Hampshire Audubon, North Sandwich
Samuel Wasmuth - Member of Sierra Club, Wolfeboro
Jennifer Snow - Environmental activist, Stratham
Kay Delanoy - Environmental activist, Keene
Donna Thompson - Environmental activist, Derry
Joseph Cullum - Environmental activist, Spofford
Ron Poltak - Environmental activist, Auburn

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Five Years Later

It takes a person of courage and honesty to admit they've made a mistake. John Edwards has acknowledged that his vote five years ago to give George Bush the authority to go to war with Iraq was a mistake.

Why can't Senator Clinton do the same? And why does Senator Clinton refuse to admit her vote for the war was a mistake—while now siding with George Bush on Iran?

Your support for John Edwards is needed more than ever. And, with campaign financing, your contribution of up to $250 for the primary could be matched.

Join me in supporting John Edwards for President