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Edwards Brings Exhibit A: Dad

DUBUQUE, Iowa--Meet Wallace Edwards, father of John Edwards and Exhibit A on the campaign trail as his son laments the plight of the middle-class worker.

The senior Edwards and his wife, Bobbie, joined their son in Dubuque, Iowa today for a rare campaign appearance, followed by lunch a local Italian restaurant. When Edwards unveiled an eight-point plan to "rebuild American manufacturing for the 21st century" at a United Auto Workers forum, he pointed to his father as one of the folks who had left behind.

"Our economy depends on a successful middle class, but our middle class depends on manufacturing," Edwards told the crowd in Dubuque. "I am running for president on behalf of the men and women who worked in the mill with my father and lost their jobs when that mill closed."

Wallace Edwards' employment difficulties are more than just another chapter in the Edwards biography -- they are a driving force in the economic populism that defines Edwards' 2008 campaign. The former senator aired his first South Carolina television ad today, appearing in front of the North Carolina textile mill where Wallace had once worked -- along with Edwards himself for a time.

"Now it's closed. The jobs are gone," Edwards said, leaning on a rusty railing. "For too many, it's just about profits and greed. They're wrong. It's about the dignity of a job, and doing what's right for America's workers."

Speaking in Dubuque, Edwards blamed the Clinton administration for supporting trade deals that he said have cost American jobs. "These trade deals didn't come about in a Republican administration, they came about in a Democratic administration," said Edwards. "This is complete insanity."

Referring to his Democratic rival, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, Edwards said, "Does anybody really believe that anything will change if we trade a crowd of corporate Republicans for a crowd of corporate Democrats? It will not happen. It is a lie."

In the job creation plan he outlined in Dubuque, Edwards offered trade, health care and tax proposals to stop the flow of jobs overseas and entice companies to expand U.S. production. He said he would enact trade deals "only if they make most families better off" and would eliminate corporate tax benefits that encourage U.S. companies to invest overseas.

--Shailagh Murray

By Washington Post editors  |  November 14, 2007; 6:50 PM ET
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Edwards no doubt loves and admires his hardworking parents and advocates for the millions of others who were also economically hurt by past trade policies. Two questions: is it really accurate to solely blame the Clinton administration for this problem? while US Senator during his term, what leadership did Edwards display in his opposition to the Clinton administration here? Also, isn't his claim "it's a lie" when he predicts, presumes and projects his perception of what another candidate's future trade policies would be a rhetorical overreach?

Posted by: rdklingus | November 15, 2007 10:36 AM | Report abuse

I was there in IA today and his speech was both compelling and stunning. In my lifetime, I have never heard a major candidate paint as accurate a picture of what is wrong with politics and corporate driven policies, and how it can be fixed. People talk about globalization like it's the weather - and nothing could be further from the truth. We can reform trade policies (which by the way would ease immigration issues), institute reforms (like healthcare for all citizens, as the rest of the industrialized world already provides), make real progress toward justice and lasting peace in the world. The question is NOT if it can be done, it's if the political will exists to do it. Kudos John!

Posted by: loctan | November 14, 2007 11:00 PM | Report abuse

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