Benny's World

Saturday, October 14, 2006

JRE Buzz(33): October Surprise Edition

Look for Update!

Welcome BW readers to JRE Buzz, for a round-up of news about John Edwards. Elizabeth's buzz will be reported separately as she is generating as much buzz as her spouse.

To your right, there is a picture of JRE taken by Iddybud (who blogs at OAC) at a Larry Kissel rally last night. Mr. Kissel, a former social studies teacher, is running for congress in NC's 8th district. I liked what Edwards said about Kissel (as reported in the Charlotte Observer this morning) :
Calling his fellow Democrat "as grass-roots as grass-roots gets," former U.S. Sen. John Edwards stumped for congressional candidate Larry Kissell Friday night outside a high school football game.

Edwards helped draw around 150 people to a rally outside Concord High School in the hometown of Kissell's 8th District opponent, Republican U.S. Rep. Robin Hayes.

In jeans and standing on the bed of a pickup truck, Edwards praised Kissell, who grew up about 10 miles from Edwards' hometown of Robbins. In touting Kissell, Edwards poked fun at a mantra of his own 2004 presidential and campaign.

"This guy's not the son of a millworker," Edwards said. "He is a millworker. He's the real thing."

Kissell worked in a Montgomery County mill for 27 years before leaving to teach high school in 2001.

You can find Carolina Girl/Voice's CJ account at OAC blog and Daily Kos.

This just in..Update, October 15:

From the Telegraph out of the UK:

Officially, John Edwards is on the campaign trail in Iowa this weekend to support fellow Democrats running for office in next month's congressional elections. Unofficially, everybody knows his eyes are on a much bigger prize – his party's nomination for president in 2008.

Those ambitions received help from an unlikely quarter last week when his presumed rival, Mark Warner, the former governor of Virginia, surprisingly announced that he would not run for the White House.


After a trip to China next week, Mr Edwards will make a campaign swing through key states in the mountain west, including Nevada, which will hold the party's second caucus in January 2008.


He believes that by focusing upon the concerns of "ordinary" Americans, he has involved himself in problems ordinarily overlooked in Washington.

Read the rest here...only thing is the writer got JRE's age wrong.

Hat-tip to Catchawave at the DU. The story is now on the Greatest Page list at the DU.

More updates...Another report of the Loebsack Rally entitled, Edwards Encourages in the Burlington Hawk Eye newspaper:

Former Sen. John Edwards told area Democrats the party has the power to change the country for the better.

The former 2004 vice–presidential candidate and possible Democratic presidential hopeful for 2008 urged Democrats to put the party back in power at all levels so it can make those much–needed changes.

"We have the power together to do this," Edwards said during a stop Saturday night at a Lee County Democratic rally. "We can't just sit on the sidelines."

And a little news about the Welfare Reform speech at UI yesterday. snip here:

Poverty in the United States became an issue last year after Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast, exposing pockets of the poor in New Orleans' Lower Ninth Ward, he said. He said those residents' issues have been ignored by the federal government and later the rest of the country.

"If we don't have national leaders pushing it every day, it fades away," said Edwards, now the director of Center for Poverty, Work and Opportunity at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.

Linda from Iowa on the OAC blog gave us a brief report on the Loebsack rally from last night:

"I attended this event in Solon. It was a small intimate gathering and he told a great Jack story I wanted to share. He said "he had taken Jack to a NASCAR race on Friday night in NC and ended up accidentally bringing Jack's school backpack to IA with him on Saturday. When he called Elizabeth to tell her he would FedEx the backpack so Jack would have it for school on Monday, Elizabeth told him Jack already had a solution to the problem, he just wouldn't go to school on Monday." That Jack, a little problem solver like his father already! Seriously, I have seen JRE speak already this year about 4 times in IA and each speech is touching on something a little different, yet staying true to his passion about ending poverty. They are have just been great speeches. He also mentioned that Elizabeth's book was #4 on the NYT bestseller list! I'm looking forward to seeing EE in DM on Wed for the book signing and I hope to see some of you there."

Great story about Jack. Jack, who undoubtedly is a rascal, inspires this blog, in case BW readers didn't know. The real Benny is a lot like him!

Working Our Way Back...

Center for Poverty, Work, and Opportunity had two events this week that Edwards participated in. But the one that got media attention was on "the High Cost of Being Poor". Mike Baker of the AP covered the event, and it was published in the Herald-Sun. Among the panelists, Edwards was the lead discussant and had this to say:

"The Congress -- as long as it's in the condition it's in today -- will not pass a raise in the minimum wage," Edwards said. "Meanwhile, the American people think it's a moral embarrassment to have Americans working for $5.15 an hour and still living in poverty."

The October Surprise(s)

This week Edwards got three bumps that were unexpected. The first one was on Wednesday, when he decided to drop by and blog live with the Kossacks at the Daily Kos. He was there for an hour and 15 minutes, and out of 979 comments, he was able to answer 12 questions related to the following topics (thanks, Zeitgeist Rover for this list):
  • Larry Kissel
  • Universal Healthcare (he says he is working on a plan to make it a reality!)
  • Ned Lamont
  • Uganda (his impressions from a visit to Northern U.)
  • College For Everyone
  • What our national priorities should be (domestic and international).
  • North Korea/Iran (we should engage in direct talks, he says)
  • Poverty (a comprehensive approach to eliminate it)
  • Minimum Wage
  • Predatory lending
  • Energy Independence (he wants an Apollo-like 21st century program)
  • Repairing Relations with the rest of the world
  • Star Wars (No, not that...)
  • 2008 - Is he running?

Some of the comments made me feel good for Edwards. I said hello to the Senator, and watched the thread unfold. To me, it was like a waterfall that formed from melting snow.

If you don't wish to slog through those comments, I offer a few I really liked:

From Elise(in response to JRE's work in Uganda recently): I got an email the other day from you about IRC and I was incredibly glad to see that you were participating in that group's work. I post an action diary each week here to encourage others to take action by signing petitions, writing letters, and volunteering and I've included several of IRC's items in the past few months. Thank you for bringing more attention to Uganda.

I echo the request that you run for President in 2008. Please!

From Agathena: I wish a could vote for you, John Edwards. but I am Canadian. I'm sure however, that with you as President of the USA, Canada would be better off too.

From Debby(regarding Edwards' answer about his College for Everyone plan, which includes 10 hours of working each week--which there was some interesting discussion as to whether or not this was fair and if affluent kids should receive free tuition as they do in the HOPE program in GA) : During my time in college and didn't find it detrimental to my studies. One year, I worked in the language lab which was good while I was taking a language. There was also downtime during that for homework. Other years, work study consisted of working on the student paper and yearbook, which was helpful while I worked on my journalism minor and design major. One summer, work study consisted of working for the chamber of commerce in my town. I designed a tourism ad that got published in some regional newspapers. Work study can go hand in hand with your goals for college and don't have to be onerous. I think it helped me grow and be more serious about what I was doing.

From Little Girl Blue, who added: While I agree it would be awesome to have free schooling for all, I think any step in that direction is a good step. Especially considering the way things are moving now. Working 10 hours a week is NOTHING in exchange for an education. Especially since a student will not need to overload on classes in order to graduate early because they would like to save one or two semesters tuition.

Pretty much all of my friends in college worked. I worked about 30 hours a week, and maintained a 3.7 GPA and still had plenty of time to party my watussi off. It was only like 3 hours a day plus full shifts on sat. and sun. ...

Maybe they should require a class on time management to help teach the students how to be students. I think the problem is kids just dont know how to schedule themselves... If someone really lays it all out for them, and they do what is suggested, workin 10 hours a week should not effect their grades at all. If it does, they will have problems in the work force.

From Fishgrease: President Edwards..Got a nice ring to it.

From Sarahlane (regarding Edwards' response as to whether or not he will run in 2008, and JRE said "I'm thinking hard about it", and he would make a decision in a few months): Would you announce March 7th? That's the day I have bet on at OAC. I believe I get a free t-shirt if you do.

Finally, from College Progressive: John Edwards, You are America. You are an eloquent and skilled leader, you inspire hope and confidence, you are compassionate and caring. You are, in short, precisely the type of person America needs as its next President.

The last comment gives me a lump in throat and a misty eye.

The Second Surprise

Another surprise this week came the very next day. It was an e-mail I and countless others received from Mark Warner of Forward Together PAC and former governor of Virginia .

Dear Benny,

Nine months ago, I left the office of Governor in Virginia. I was immensely proud of what we had accomplished. We faced historic challenges and got real results.

Upon leaving office, I committed all my time and energy to Forward Together because we need a new direction in America.

Everywhere I’ve traveled, I found hope that we could turn this country around. That Americans are looking for leaders who at this moment of enormous challenge for our country can actually bring us together and get things done.

I’ve heard that regardless of the depth of dismay at the direction President Bush has taken our country, rank and file Democrats are energized, and want ours to be a party of hope, not of anger.

I am especially proud of the work we’ve done in supporting those kinds of candidates throughout America.

We got a lot done.

Forward Together has contributed more money this year to Democratic candidates and party organizations than any other federal leadership PAC. Our effort raised over $9 million.

I headlined 86 events in 25 states to help raise or directly donate $7.3 million to Democrats this cycle.

And our work is not done—especially at home in Virginia, where I continue to work to help Jim Webb win.

But this has also been another kind of journey—one that would lead to a decision as to whether I would seek the Democratic nomination for President.

Late last year, I said to Lisa and my girls, “Let’s go down this path and make a decision around Election Day.”

But there were hiring decisions and people who’ve put their lives on hold waiting to join this effort.

So about a month ago, I told my family and people who know me best that I would make a final decision after Columbus Day weekend, which I was spending with my family. After 67 trips to 28 states and five foreign countries, I have made that decision.

I have decided not to run for President.

This past weekend, my family and I went to Connecticut to celebrate my Dad’s 81st birthday, and then we took my oldest daughter Madison to start looking at colleges.

I know these moments are never going to come again. This weekend made clear what I’d been thinking about for many weeks—that while politically this appears to be the right time for me to take the plunge—at this point, I want to have a real life.

And while the chance may never come again, I shouldn’t move forward unless I’m willing to put everything else in my life on the back burner.

This has been a difficult decision, but for me, it’s the right decision.

It’s not a decision I have easily reached. I made it after a lot of discussion with my family and a few close friends, and ultimately a lot of reflection, prayer, and soul-searching.

Let me also tell you what were not the reasons for my decision.

This is not a choice that was made based on whether I would win or lose. I can say with complete conviction that—15 months out from the first nomination contests—I feel we would have had as good a shot to be successful as any potential candidate in the field.

As for my family, Lisa and our three girls have always had a healthy amount of skepticism, but would have been willing to buckle down and support the effort. I love them all and appreciate their faith in me.

So what’s next?

First, I know that many friends, staff and supporters who have been so generous with time, ideas, energy, and financial support will be disappointed.

My decision does not in any way diminish my desire to be active in getting our country fixed. It doesn’t mean that I won’t run for public office again.

I want to serve, whether in elective office or in some other way. I’m still excited about the possibilities for the future.

In the short-term, I am going to do everything I can do make sure Democrats win in 2006. It’s an exciting year to be a Democrat. I leave shortly to go to Iowa to support folks running for state and congressional office. Hope they are still excited to see me.

I want to thank the thousands of Americans who have donated to Forward Together, hosted me in their homes, shared their ideas, and given me encouragement.

I also want to thank all of the staff and key advisors at Forward Together who have created a great organization. If we had chosen to go forward, I know they had the skills, talent, and dedication to take us all the way.

And finally, as I have traveled the country, I have been amazed at what pent-up positive energy for change exists.

In my speeches, I always acknowledge that what disappoints me most about this administration in Washington is that with all the challenges we face . . . and the tragedies we have experienced, from 9-11 to Katrina . . . that the President has never rallied the American people to come together, to step up, to ask Americans to be part of the solution.

I think a number of our party’s potential candidates understand that. I think, in fact, we have a strong field. A field of good people. I think they’re all hearing what I heard: that Americans are ready to do their part to get our country fixed. I wish them all well.

And I want to say thanks to all who’ve been part of this effort.

Mark Warner Signature

I must say that I was surprised, considering I had read he would announce a run in November. I respect his decision, regardless if it is family related or not. Doesn't sound like he's ruled out 2008 for something else.

Needless to say, there has been a LOT of buzz going on in the blogosphere and in the news, depending on where one lives. In the WSJ, there was only a brief mention on the front page on Thursday; the Boston Globe had it on page A6, I believe, and nothing in the USA Today--but those were on Thursday.

So now, there is a lot of speculation as to which of the potential candidates remaining that it benefits. Personally, I think Edwards may be one of the beneficiaries, along with Evan Bayh. So do Kos , the NYT and the Nation.

The Third Surprise

Same day as Warner announced that he would not be seeking the WH in 2008, the Union-Leader in NH released a preliminary 2008 poll. Here's what the line-up looks like:

    Hillary Clinton 30%
    John Edwards 16%
    Al Gore 10%
    John Kerry 9%
    Joe Biden 5%
    Wesley Clark 4%
    Bill Richardson 3%

What is more interesting is the following tidbit from the same article: "Those polled also were asked which candidates they liked the least. Among potential Democratic candidates, Hillary Clinton was the least liked by 35 percent of all of the likely voters in both parties, followed by Kerry, Gore, Clark and Edwards." Edwards' least favorite came in at 3%, the lowest of all of them.

Now you tell me who's ahead here.

Nicholas Beaudrot seems to be concerned about JRE peaking too soon over at Ezra Klein's place. I'm not, but I can see why he thinks so. But I found the same argument again how JRE is too young. Go over there and read my comment.

Meantime, my heart is at Converge South. I wanted to see my fellow bloggers Bora, NCDem, Nan, Jude, Dave, etc, and meet Sue, Ed Cone, Robert Scoble, Mr. Sun, Mathew Gross (who just joined the OAC team as an online advisor) and of course, see Elizabeth again. Sigh. Hope they are all learning a lot.


The snark of the weekend belongs to Danny Diaz, a spokesman with the Republican National Committee who said this about JRE last night: "Edwards is a "failed presidential candidate and a rejected vice presidential candidate whose political attacks will be no more successful today than they were two years ago."

OK, Mr. Diaz, your 10 seconds of snark fame are up. Your party has more deserters than guests these days.

More buzz l8tr...

Tags: John Edwards, Mark Warner, Larry Kissell, Congressional Races 2006, North Carolina Politics, Benny's World, New Hampshire polls, Daily Kos, One America Committee, Center on Poverty, Work, and Opportunity, Ezra Klein, Iddybud, Democratic Underground, Welfare Reform, Dave Loebsack, Hawk Eye