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John Edwards
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John Edwards

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John Reid Edwards, (born June 10, 1953), is a U.S. Senator from North Carolina. He has been selected by John Kerry, the Democratic Party nominee for President of the United States, as his Vice-Presidential running mate. Edwards had previously been one of the candidates seeking the Democratic nomination in the 2004 U.S. presidential election.

Table of contents
1 Childhood and Family
2 Legal career
3 Senate term
4 2004 presidential campaign
5 External links

Childhood and Family

Edwards was born in Seneca, South Carolina. His name at birth was Johnny Reid. He spent his formative years in the town of Robbins, North Carolina. His father, Wallace Edwards (born May 28, 1932), was a blue-collar textile mill worker, while his mother, Catharine "Bobbie" Edwards (born September 26, 1933 as Catharine Wade), was a postal employee. Edwards was the first person in his family to attend college. He briefly attended Clemson University in South Carolina, where he was passed over for a football scholarship, before transferring to North Carolina State University. He graduated with a bachelor's degree in textile technology in 1974, and later earned a law degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, both with honors. While at UNC-Chapel Hill, he met and married his wife, fellow law student Elizabeth Anania. When he started his legal career, he began using the name John rather than Johnny.

Edwards and his wife Elizabeth have had four children. Their first two, Wade and Catharine, were born soon after John and Elizabeth's marriage. Just one month prior to the beginning of testimony in the Lakey case in 1996, Edwards lost his 16-year-old son, Wade, in an automobile accident; in remembrance of his son, Edwards wears Wade's Outward Bound pin on his suit jacket. Following Wade's death, Edwards and his wife chose to have children again; their two youngest, Emma Claire (1999) and Jack (2001) were conceived with the aid of fertility treatments. The Edwards family resides in Raleigh, North Carolina and Washington DC; Edwards also owns a beach home near Wilmington, North Carolina and ~100 acres of land near Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

Legal career

Before entering politics, Edwards was a successful trial attorney who represented families and children that had allegedly been wrongly injured by negligent corporate manufacturers and municipal entities; Edwards made his personal fortune of millions of dollars in the process. The highlight of his legal career was a personal injury lawsuit against Sta-Rite, the manufacturer of a defective pool drain which seriously injured Valerie Lakey, a Cary, North Carolina girl, on June 24, 1993. Turning down all offers of settlement from the company, Edwards pressed the case forward until he secured a $25,000,000 award from the jury, the largest personal injury award in North Carolina history. Fellow lawyers and law students crowded the courtroom to hear Edwards' closing arguments, while he spoke to the jury for two straight hours without referring to notes in an emotional appeal.

Drawing on his experience in personal injury cases, Edwards has characterized himself as a defender of "the little guy," although his critics have alleged that Edwards only took on cases that he was sure of winning and that would result in substantial financial settlements. Scrutiny has fallen upon one of Edwards specialties, infant cerebral palsy cases, where scientific evidence has recently suggested that birth conditions only rarely cause the disorder.

In December 2003, during his presidential campaign, Edwards (with John Auchard) published Four Trials (ISBN 0-74324-4974), a biographical book focusing on his legal career.

Senate term

Both the success of the Lakey case (which Edwards' called "the best lawyering of my life") and his son's death (Edwards had hoped his son would eventually join him in private law practice) prompted Edwards to leave the legal profession and seek public office. A Democrat, Edwards won election to the U.S. Senate in 1998 by defeating the favored incumbent Republican, Lauch Faircloth.

Edwards' skill as a trial attorney was evident during President Bill Clinton's 1999 Senate impeachment trial. Edwards, who was responsible for the deposition of witnesses Monica Lewinsky and Vernon Jordan, played a critical role in the Senate proceedings that eventually ended in the President's acquittal.

During the 2000 Presidential campaign, Edwards made Democratic nominee Al Gore's Vice Presidentialial nominee short list (along with John Kerry and Joe Lieberman, Gore's eventual pick), and in November 2000, People magazine named Edwards as its choice for the "sexiest politician." Edwards serves on several Senate committees, including the prestigious Intelligence and Judicial committees.

2004 presidential campaign

Edwards unofficially began his presidential campaign as early as 2001, when he began to seek speaking engagements in Iowa, the site of the nation's first party caucuses. On September 15, 2003, Edwards unofficially announced his intention to seek the 2004 Democratic Presidential nomination, on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart (a news and political satire show), thus fulfilling a promise he made as a guest during TDS' coverage of the 2002 Mid-Term Elections. The next morning, Edwards made the announcement official from his hometown, Robbins, North Carolina. He has declined to run for re-election to the Senate this year.

As Edwards had been building support for a presidential bid essentially since his election to the Senate, he led the initial campaign fundraising, amassing over $7 million during the first quarter of 2003, more than half of which came from individuals associated with the legal profession, particularly Edwards' fellow trial lawyers, their families, and employees.

Edwards' campaign was often characterized by the American news media as populist; his stump speech spoke of "two Americas;" one composed of the wealthy and privileged, and the other of the hard-working common man. (Excerpt from "two Americas" stump speech) His refusal to level direct negative attacks at his fellow Democratic contenders also attracted attention.

After campaigning for most of 2003, Edwards' campaign struggled to gain large support in the Democratic Party. But in early 2004, weeks before the Iowa caucuses, Edwards began to catch fire and his support and poll numbers began to rise steadily. Edwards' late stage momentum, as well as his departure from the negative campaigning which characterized other leading candidates, carried him into a surprising second place finish in Iowa, behind only John Kerry and ahead of former front-runner Howard Dean. Edwards finished with 12% support in the New Hampshire primary one week later, essentially tied for third place position with Wesley Clark.

As Kerry appeared to claim the front runner position following wins in the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary, many Democrats speculated on the desirability of a Kerry-Edwards ticket; however, Edwards indicated on January 28, 2004 that he has no interest in running as vice president.[1] However, on July 6, 2004, Edwards eventually accepted the Vice Presidential nomination on Kerry's ticket. [1]

Edwards' presidential aspirations were boosted when, on February 3, 2004, he won the South Carolina Democratic primary with 46% of the Democratic vote, outshowing Kerry's 30% result. Edwards had declared that he "must win" the state in order to remain in the race. Edwards also polled ahead of Kerry in the Oklahoma primary that same day, losing that state to Clark by less than 1,300 votes.

The following week, on February 10, Edwards finished second place in the southern states of Virginia and Tennessee, well behind frontrunner Kerry in both states. Edwards had hoped to capitalize on a southern victory to boost his campaign, but he vowed to remain in the presidential race through the Super Tuesday primaries in early March. On February 17 his campaign gained further momentum when he nearly defeated Kerry in the Wisconsin primary; with Howard Dean's withdrawal from the contest the following day, Edwards became the only major challenger to Kerry for the Democratic nomination. Remarking on his unexpectedly strong finish, Edwards humorously cautioned Kerry: "Objects in your mirror may be closer than they appear."

As the major challenger to John Kerry, Edwards emphasized the relatively few policy differences between the two. He particularly emphasized his disapproval of NAFTA, which Kerry had supported, and his southern background, suggesting that he would be better able to earn support in the predominantly-Republican south than his rival from New England.

Edwards maintained a positive campaign and largely avoided attacking Kerry until a February 29, 2004 debate in New York, where he attempted to put Kerry on the defensive by characterizing the front-runner as a "Washington insider" and by mocking Kerry's plan to form a committee to examine trade agreements.

Edwards' campaign ended after a disappointing finish in the Super Tuesday primaries on March 2, when Kerry finished well ahead of Edwards in eight of the 10 states voting that day. (Dean won his native state of Vermont.) Edwards finished only slightly behind Kerry in Georgia, but, failing to win a single state, chose to withdraw from the presidential race. He announced his official withdrawal at a Raleigh, North Carolina press conference on March 3, 2004.

News of Edwards' withdrawal from the race made major media outlets relatively early on the evening of Super Tuesday, at about 6:30 PM CST, before polls had closed in California and before caucuses in Minnesota had even begun. This influenced many people in Minnesota to vote for other candidates, which may partially account for the strong showing of Dennis Kucinich in that state. Edwards did win the presidential straw poll conducted by the Independence Party of Minnesota.

As the last major contender to withdraw from the race, many political pundits speculated that Edwards' presidential bid was not a "serious" campaign, but merely an attempt to raise his national profile, perhaps to earn a vice-presidential spot on the Democratic ticket. Edwards is regarded as a strong contender for the 2008 presidential election, should President George W. Bush win re-election and to succeed Kerry if he were to win.

On July 6, 2004 John Kerry announced, first in an email to his supporters and later in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, that Edwards would be his vice presidential running mate.

Issue stances

While campaigning for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2004, Edwards completed the National Political Awareness Test. Some of Edwards' positions, ideas, and experiences with national issues which made up his campaign platform were:

Edwards supported legislation to improve airport security, increase seaports safety, reduced vulnerability to bioterrorism, and enabled law enforcement agencies to keep known terrorists from entering the country. He cosponsored legislation to strengthen nuclear shipments safety (container strength, shipment escorts, and emergency coordination). Edwards is a proponent of legislation to fight cyberterrorism.

Edwards has proposed a new domestic intelligence agency to fight terrorist cells, strengthening security along borders, making terrorist targets less vulnerable to attack, and developing a better emergency warning system.

External links