Benny's World

Saturday, May 17, 2008

JRE Buzz: NYC Edition

JRE Greetings, BW Readers.

Wow, what a whirlwind of all kinds of buzz about John Edwards. He was in NYC for the past couple of days, in which he was honored by Demos, which is a non-partisan public policy research and advocacy organization. I noticed that among co-sponsors for the event were the SEIU and the American Federation of Teachers.

Edwards was also on the Today show again, in which Matt Lauer first chided Edwards for not speaking sooner about the endorsement of Barack Obama on Wednesday, and went on for the next 3 minutes or so about it. Lauer also wanted to fuel speculation about Edwards being a potential VP candidate, in which John put that one to bed:

Former presidential contender John Edwards said on Friday he would not be Democratic front-runner Barack Obama's running mate, but did not rule out taking a role in an Obama administration.

"Won't happen," Edwards told NBC's "Today" program when asked if he would be Obama's vice presidential pick. "This is not something I'm interested in."

Source: NY Times

Finally though, Lauer asked JRE more substantive: about Bush's comments in Israel, comparing Obama's comments to appeasement of Hitler:

It is beneath the President of the United States to make these kind of clearly political accusations when he is addressing the people of Israel on the 60th anniversary of Israel. It shouldn't have been done, particularly in combination with what has been an absolutely disasterous foreign policy."

Edwards was spot on, as usual.

You can watch the video here.

What Lauer didn't get out of Edwards about the endorsement, Greg Sargent at TPM Election Central ferreted a scoop from former JRE campaign staffers:

Edwards Secured Private Commitment From Obama That He'd Go On Poverty Tour As Nominee

This could require Obama to make a commitment of several days during a hard-fought general election, because Edwards specifically secured a commitment that it be a few days long, one top adviser said.

"Edwards was trying to think of ways to specifically hold them accountable," said another former top Edwards adviser. "It's easy for a Democrat to say, `Sure, I'll make poverty central to my campaign.' A poverty tour was something he felt would be really powerful with the spotlight of the general election, and it was a tangible, real thing he could ask them to commit to."

Poverty tour is a great idea. But here's the icing on the cake:

Another of the advisers said that Edwards had secured a commitment that he'd accompany the tour. "It was a specific number of days on the road together, putting poverty front and center -- it would be with him," this adviser said. "He got them both to agree to this. He was really excited."

TPM Election Central

Believe it or not, the Brand X'ers welcomed the idea too, and thought maybe Hillary would like to go too.

Edwards' endorsement was dismissed by Newsweek and Time, but they left out three important ingredients: superdelegates, pledged delegates (especially Florida and possibly Michigan), and an endorsement by a union which backed Edwards: the United Steelworkers. It's possible the Mine Workers might follow.

After Memorial Day, John will back to join Rudy Giuliani in the Radio City Music Hall Speaker series, "The Minds that Move the World." The event is on May 28th and Tim Russert is the moderator.

Speaking of NYC, Elizabeth Edwards will be returning to the Personal Democracy Forum on June 23 in NYC. According to the program announcement, Elizabeth will be giving "her firsthand view of the power and prospects of internet-driven politics".

There is birthday in the Edwards Household a week from today, so I think Elizabeth and John will also be plenty busy planning a party.

John has asked supporters to donate to College for Everyone. It's the program he started in 2005 to raise money for financially disadvantaged students in Greene County, NC who have good grades and are willing to work 10 hours a week.

More buzz l8tr...

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Tuesday, May 13, 2008

JRE Buzz: Edwards wins 7% of Mountaineers' Votes

BW readers, there is a grin the size of West Virginia on my face tonight. Despite Edwards suspending his campaign on January 30th, 7% of West Virginia Democrats and it's possible it will become 8% before the night is out, gave their vote to JRE anyway.

Over at the DU and I'm certain it is being whispered at other blogs, that the folks that didn't vote for Hillary nor Barack were either sexist or racist, or maybe both. I'll concede it is possible, but doubtful. I think it had to do with the main issue that neither candidate addressed very well: the issue of poverty and what to do about it. My guess is that many of the people visited on the Poverty Tour last year found him to be sincere, and the other two less authentic.

Moreover, the Mineworkers' union never backed Clinton nor Obama. Its candidate was John Edwards.

Some of the pundits tonight believe it was a protest vote. I strongly reject that notion.

I can only wonder what Joe Trippi, Jonathan Prince, David Bonior, Elizabeth Edwards, Tracy Joan, and the online communications team from JRE's campaign must be thinking: how did this happen?

I hope they smiled a little, but knowing John and Elizabeth, the campaign was not never about them; it was about "we the people" and our kitchen table issues.

Hillary and Barack should bear in mind that poverty not take a back seat. Just look at James Lowe, who was from West Virginia:

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Monday, May 12, 2008

JRE Buzz:Causes, not about Candidates

(courtesy via NcDem)


Now we go to Philadelphia. Senator John Edwards, the former candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, former U.S. senator from North Carolina. He was also John Kerry's running mate in 2004. You have not endorsed, senator. Some might say as a major figure in the party at this point, don't you have a responsibility to endorse? JOHN EDWARDS (D), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: No. I think that what I have a responsibility to do is make sure that the Democrats' message and our cause is heard and that we're united in the fall. You know, myself, Al Gore, I think there are some others who haven't spoken out yet about this nomination battle.

I think we have two great candidates. I have such an extraordinarily high opinion of both of them. You watch sort of what's happened in the past, I think that some of the endorsements as opposed to helping unite have contributed to the divide. And what I don't want to do is contribute to the divide. I mean, we had a primary in North Carolina where I live. I live in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. I voted in that primary. So obviously, I made a choice in that vote. But at least for this moment, I think the reasonable thing for me to do is let voters make their decision.

KING: All right. How damaged, frankly, is your party based on the way this primary has gone and the hostility that has occurred between the two candidates?

EDWARDS: Well, my honest feeling about that is the longer it goes on and -- when I got out back at the end of January, beginning of February, one of the reasons I got out was I thought that my getting out would accelerate the choice of a nominee, would allow us to get prepared for the fall. Shows you how smart I am. It didn't work. It's going on and on and on.

And I think that the length of the primary is not helpful to us. I will say that if Senator Obama, who is certainly the front-runner right now, ends up being the nominee, I think the competition has been good for him. I think he's become stronger and tougher, more focused through the course of this campaign, more experienced in a tough national race.

So you know, there's sort of six of one, half dozen of the other. But I do think we're approaching the time and it's going to come naturally where this thing needs to come to an end and we need to start focusing on the fall.

KING: Are you saying, then, to Senator Clinton face the facts?

EDWARDS: No. The one thing I would never do is say to Senator Clinton, who's a strong candidate, and has as much experience in this as anybody around, what she needs to do. She doesn't need advice from me. She's run a strong campaign. I think she's actually as a candidate become stronger. The odds against her have become longer, unfortunately.

And I think she's in a very difficult place. But I do have to say just on a personal note, having been through this now twice, to get up and go out there every morning when everyone's saying it's over, you're not going to win, you need to get out, and face the media and face the public and continue to make your case.

I mean, this woman's made a steal. And she deserves an enormous amount of credit and admiration. I can tell you she has my personal admiration. But I think the reality is that we have a dynamic young strong candidate in Barack Obama who looks like he's going to be the nominee.

KING: What does your party do about Florida and Michigan? Now, you're going to address the convention in Denver.

EDWARDS: Yes, I expect to.

KING: Obviously, you deserve to. What do you think about Florida and Michigan?

EDWARDS: Well, I think we can't disenfranchise the voters in those two states, particularly in Florida after what happened in 2000. So I think the DNC is scheduled to deal with this later this month. I think they will find some fair middle ground resolution that allows the delegations from those two states to be seated. I suspect there will be some division that slightly favors Senator Clinton but doesn't have a great impact on the race.

KING: We'll be right back with Senator John Edwards.

KING: Senator Edwards, would you run again for vice president if asked?

EDWARDS: No. I don't have any interest in it, no intention to do it. The cause of my life, Larry, is to do something about poverty in this country, and I'm going to pour my heart and soul into that. I knew you were going to ask me about this.

But you know, we're here in Philadelphia to launch a campaign to cut poverty in half in the next 10 years. I'm committed to this cause. We have wonderful organizations who are working on this cause. And I just came, in fact, today -- I mentioned this to you earlier. Just came today from being on the Gulf Coast with Habitat for Humanity and President Carter. Earlier today I was hammering nails and building houses on the Gulf Coast. So that's what my life is about now.

KING: All right. Hillary quoting an "A.P" story, questioned Obama, can he do well with white working-class voters. What do you make of that? And can he?

EDWARDS: He absolutely can. I mean, this is a good man who has shown throughout his life that he cares about equality, that he cares about everybody in this country having a chance. I mean, he himself came from nothing with a single mom to being able to do -- to being a nominee now, it looks like, for president of the United States.

And his life story itself exhibits what this country's about. And he absolutely -- the people that I grew up with in small town rural southern America who struggle and work hard every day trying to have a better life, they will connect with Barack Obama when they get to know him and they understand where his heart is.

KING: Before I ask you about poverty, one other thing about campaigning, and that's Senator McCain. You serve with him in the Senate. What's your view of him?

EDWARDS: I respect him. I like him very much personally. He is -- you know, I'm for the Democrat. I'm for Obama or Clinton, whoever gets the nomination, because I think our agenda is the right agenda for America and the world. And I disagree profoundly with Senator McCain about the war. But I -- but having said all that, he's somebody that I have enormous respect for, and I think he will make a strong candidate for the Republicans.

KING: One quick call, and then I'll ask you about poverty, and then Barbara Walters. The call is from Ridgecrest, Florida. Hello.

CALLER: Hi. I wanted to ask Mr. Gore, why is that

KING: It's Senator Edwards, not Mr. Gore, but go ahead.

CALLER: I'm sorry. Senator Edwards, why aren't the Democratic nominees addressing the low-income and below poverty voters, and what do the Democrats -- Democratic nominees plan to do for them?

KING: That's something you concentrated on, but it has not been discussed a great deal, you must admit.

EDWARDS: Not enough. And I know that both Barack and Hillary care deeply about this. I've talked to them -- every time I've talked to them, I've talked to them about it.

You know, this is something that's central to their own lives and what they care about. And we've got -- been able to get very specific commitments from both of them about what they're willing to do, both in the campaign, the general election campaign, and in their presidency if they're able to win the presidency. Things like raising the minimum wage, expansion of the earned income tax credit, making child care available to more families that don't have it.

The things that we're working on in this cutting poverty in half in the next 10 years campaign, Half in 10, which is the name of this campaign, they've already committed to.

So I actually am convinced that in the next administration, poverty will be front and center and we'll be able to do something about this.

KING: But senator, in 1966 -- '66, Lyndon Johnson declared war on poverty. That's 42 years.


KING: What happened?

EDWARDS: We did some things right and we did some things wrong, you know? We cut the poverty rate in America in half, or about half as a result of the war on poverty.

But we also created a cycle of dependency in some cases. And what we have to do is understand what lessons to be learned from that, what worked, what didn't work, and how do we in a way that's centered on work and independence and making sure that families not are supported by the government, but that families are able to take care of themselves and give their kids a chance? That's what this is all about.

KING: Will you come back one night and we can discuss at length the poverty project?

EDWARDS: Oh, you got it, anytime, you just let me know.

KING: You're my man. Thanks, senator.

EDWARDS: Thanks, Larry.

KING: Senator John Edwards, former candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination.

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Sunday, May 11, 2008

Thoughts for Mother's Day

By Julia Ward Howe
Proclamation of Mother's Day, 1870:

Arise, then, women of this day!
Arise all women who have hearts,
Whether your baptism be that of water or of tears
Say firmly:

"We will not have great questions decided by irrelevant agencies,
Our husbands shall not come to us reeking of carnage,
For caresses and applause.
Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn
All that we have been able to teach them of
charity, mercy and patience.

"We women of one country
Will be too tender of those of another country
To allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs."

From the bosom of the devastated earth a voice goes up with
Our own. It says, "Disarm, Disarm!"
The sword of murder is not the balance of justice!
Blood does not wipe out dishonor
Nor violence indicate possession.
As men have of ten forsaken the plow and the anvil at the summons of war.

Let women now leave all that may be left of home
For a great and earnest day of counsel.

Let them meet first, as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead.

Let them then solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means
Whereby the great human family can live in peace,
Each bearing after his own time the sacred impress, not of Caesar,
But of God.

In the name of womanhood and humanity, I earnestly ask
That a general congress of women without limit of nationality
May be appointed and held at some place deemed most convenient
And at the earliest period consistent with its objects
To promote the alliance of the different nationalities,
The amicable settlement of international questions.
The great and general interests of peace.

It is also Mother's Day that Elizabeth Edwards and I connected online for the first time, in 2006.

Little did I know she would mention me in a speech to the Personal Democracy Forum the next day. Here's the podcast of her talk.

And it appears Elizabeth is going back, June 23-24.

One last thing: poverty strikes single mothers worse than anyone. I am posting a video by NcDem of an interview of JRE on Face the Nation, in which endorsements are discussed, but so is the Half in Ten initiative.

Happy Mother's Day, and let's support our moms and dads.

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