See that man on the left? That is John Edwards, and he was in Central Illinois this evening. Two old friends threw a reception for him, and what you see is Presidental candidate Edwards, talking to one of the attendees' relatives at the gig.
This was my first look at John Edwards in a more intimate setting: some one's private home. The Edwards I saw tonight was the politican I saw on TV when he voted against that awful Medicare part D bill,
but geniune, warm, and if he had any troubles on his mind, he never showed them. Instead, he graciously talked to all in the room, and anyone who wanted to have a photo made, got one.
Yours truly included. At the time the photographer shot the pic, I asked JRE how the roll out of the health care plan
went as I didn't see him today went. He said great. Other than saying hello to him, that was conversation in total with him, other than he recognized me from the Iowa gig on Deember 28th. I didn't mind at all.
I learned a couple of things about Edwards that I didn't know tonight. One is that he only rides in American made cars. And tonight, he was driven to the reception in a red Pontiac Grand Am, and not a brand new one either. I thought that was so cool that his principle to stand tall with the unions transcended into the campaign through and through.
The second, which didn't surprise me, but such a nice touch, was that he said hello to all of the catering people and thanked them for their service. Wow. I wonder how many Presidential candidates do that?
My button that NCDem Amy gave me was a conversation getter. I had forgotten that I was wearing a pin no one else had. And they (hosts and some others) wanted one that said, "One America." Something for the campaign to think about.
Related, his hosts were just as warm and caring as Edwards. Dave, as he is known to his friends, showed me a sign that was from the 2004 DNC in Boston. JRE's signature, along with Senator Dick Durbin's, was on it. Dave was proud and humble at the same time when he introduced JRE (after shaking hands with many) as the man who was the same off the camera as he is when the camera lights were on him. I shared with Dave that I had to give Bush only a tiny bit of credit: I never knew how much I loved my country until Bush got us into so many messes and that only JRE was my trusted choice to give us back our country and fix the problems.
Intrigued by my button, another couple was nice to approach me and start a conversation. They were from a longer distance away. They told me how their son, who is now in law school in Ann Arbor, was an undergrad in the northeast when JRE was first running in 2003. He was interested in Edwards as a candidate after he announced on the Daily Show, and was accepted as an intern until March 2nd, 2004 (and yes, we all still remember that don't we, but I'm not even gonna link there). But between the time he became an intern and the end of the internship, there was a tragic accident that happened at the young man's school. Elizabeth personally e-mailed the young man to give him web sites and other suggestions to pass on to grieving parents. I told them that while this was not in Elizabeth's book, I was not surprised to hear it either. It was really nice to hear their personal stories and why they supported Edwards.
I talked with some Dems from my county. They weren't still completely certain if they would support him or our junior senator. But I reminded them that Senator Obama had a cake walk in the last election, and he would be hit hard this time around. JRE had the experience from the last time, and learned from it.
JRE gave a great speech tonight. It's similar to the ones I've heard before, but he spoke very passionately in stopping the escalation in Iraq. His expressions were so authentic, and from the heart, while giving the best reasons why we needed to get out.
Someone asked him about his interview with Ezra Klein
that his father in law, who worked for a prominent MSM, asked him to ask JRE about. JRE replied that he was way ahead of most people in the room, and asked how many people saw that blog (I was one of two who raised my hand). He was quick to say, "this is about Iran", then he said he felt strongly about engagement first and it was "stone stupid" to have a pre-emptive action. He also mentioned that Bush was going to engage everyone else in the Middle East but Syria and Iran, which he believed to be unwise, considering the Sunnis dominate the Muslim world, and the Shias, which are 10% are from Syria and Iran, yet Iraq's government was more Shia. Edwards added that with cooperation with the Europeans, we could offer the Iranians an attractive economic package and work with them on nuclear enrichmnent for civilian purposes.
Some one else asked him about why the folks in the room should support him. More or less, he said that while there were similarities in some political issues, one had to decide if voting for a President included personal character. Do you vote for someone who is strictly careful? For personal or political ambition? Or someone who is working for the country beyond just personal interest?
A short time. He was there only a hour and 15 minutes. But he had to move on.
I want to say something about his advance women tonight. They worked their phones and themselves very hard. I met Nicole, who had worked for JRE before.
I met her at the airport and we waited for JRE to greet him. Her phone rang many times. I was amused at keeping a battery charger with her at all times, and her phone was plugged. Nicole ensured that my "Home
" books were signed. She was fascinated by my story about chatting with Elizabeth and how she mentioned me at the PDF
. I found out that Nicole was originally from Austin, and her mom lived in the town where I used to live: College Station, TX.
Lauren was a kick. She made things happen, including that I got a name tag at the event.
I might add I was the only blogger there. It was so interesting to talk with a crowd in which most still got their news from the TV or newspapers, although some reading a little on the Internet. I was asked what it was like to be a blogger, and it took quick thinking on my part how to answer that since I've been doing this for only 3 years. Scouting and seeing what's being said about the Senator. Reading all kinds of issues, keeping up with the top blogs.
And the only person I sort of
knew before the event was JRE. Now I know a few more.
American made, the entire gig. Matches John Edwards, also American made, the guy who remembers where he came from, and very at home with everyone he met.
PS. I'm not certain why my teeth look worse than they are when one clicks on the pic of him and me. I have no cavities, and I brushed well before I saw JRE, other than I had two diet cokes before he got to Central Illinois. One of my teeth looks like if as though I had popcorn put on it, LOL. Oh well. Life in the blogger lane.