Wearing blue jeans and a blue work shirt, accompanied by his two youngest children, John Edwards projected an image of a family man from a blue-collar background as he visited Cherokee on Sunday, one of several stops during a two-day Iowa tour in Edwards' campaign to be nominated the Democratic candidate for President.
Edwards, an attorney and former U.S. Senator from North Carolina, expanded on his working class theme when addressing the crowd that packed the Gathering Place, speaking about his father working at a textile mill where Edwards himself worked to earn money for college.
(This was in response to a question from Marty Zauhar which is available for viewing as a film clip on Edwards' website.)
Prior to addressing the issues, Edwards introduced his nine-year-old daughter, Emma Claire, and seven-year-old son, Jack. Edwards' wife, Elizabeth, was originally scheduled to be with him on this round of campaign stops but he said that she needed to return to North Carolina. They have an older daughter, Catharine, who is attending law school.
Edwards' cornerstone issue, the only one he brought up before responding to questions from the audience, is his universal health care coverage plan. His proposal calls for comprehensive insurance, including dental, optical and preventative care, with no preexisting condition exclusions and no gaps for arbitrarily excluded conditions such as mental health problems.
Edwards proposes coverage that would be portable. He also proposes to allow people to choose between private coverage and a government plan. All people of the country would be covered as a matter of law, according to the Edwards' plan.
He suggested that eliminating tax cuts for the wealthy put in place under Bush will fund his health coverage plan.
Responding to a question about problems with veteran health care coverage, Edwards said that there should be a dedicated stream of funding for that rather than having the current system of unpredictable appropriations.
Regarding immigration, Edwards believes we should do more to protect our borders and we should be tougher on employers who knowingly hire illegal immigrants.
He advocated that there should be a path to citizenship for those who have been in the country for a number of years, one requirement in that path being to learn the English language.
On the question of imports, Edwards advocated country of origin labeling. He also suggested that one way to reduce competition with third world workers for low skilled jobs is to make our country have the highest skilled work force in the world.
Edwards would set an economy-wide limit on the emission of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. He would build on the precedent of the Clean Air Act of 1990 -- which limited pollution causing acid rain through a sulfur dioxide cap-and-trade system.
Edwards would auction off a portion of the pollution permits to raise $10 billion a year for a New Energy Economy Fund to jumpstart clean, renewable, and efficient energy technologies and create a million jobs.
Edwards advocated that the federal government should fully fund political campaigns, eliminating the role of lobbyist spending and PAC funds in the political process.
Other positions he took included a freeze on building nuclear weapons, America becoming more involved in empowering Palestinians who want peace, and making government transparent by conducting the decision making process in the open,
Edwards touched only briefly on the war in Iraq during his stop in Cherokee but he has taken the position that troops should be withdrawn within 12 to 18 months.
Edwards was the first, but likely not the last, top tier presidential candidate to come through Cherokee this year. He had been in Cherokee in his campaign for the 2004 presidential nomination. Edwards became the Democratic vice presidential candidate, John Kerry's running mate in the 2004 election.