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Edwards Recalls Legal Victories
To Reinforce Outsider Image

Former Sen. John Edwards is reclaiming his professional roots as a trial lawyer.

Locked in a make-or-break battle in Iowa with Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama, the Democratic candidate presents himself as a fiesty outsider who will shake up establishment Washington and reclaim government for the little guy. It's a style that traces back to Edwards' long career as a star defense attorney. But this year, he hasn't much bragged about his courtroom work to political audiences.

That appears to be changing. The former senator is lacing his public remarks with references to his legal victories, and a senior Edwards aide said the candidate would make prominent mention of his trial work during his address tonight at the high-profile Jefferson Jackson Day dinner. It's a career that made him a multimillionaire, but that also put Edwards on the map in North Carolina, where as a political novice he beat GOP incumbent Lauch Faircloth to win a Senate seat in 1998.

All those medical malpractice and product liability cases provide Edwards with a framework for his populist message, which some of his rivals have questioned as election-year posturing. But they also risk tarnishing the squeaky clean image that Edwards has carefully honed, vis a vis special interests. The trial lawyers' lobby is one of the wealthiest and most powerful in Washington - and its members have proven highly generous to Edwards throughout his political career.

Speaking at a Farmers Union summit in Des Moines this morning, Edwards lamented the plight of family farmers, asserting, "We need somebody to stand up for you. Somebody to fight for you. Somebody who will fight against those who are trying to take your way of life away from you," Then he added, "I walked into courtrooms for 20 years where there was a whole army of lawyers on the other side representing corporate America.And I went into that courtroom, and I fought them, and I beat them, and I beat them, and I beat them again. And I will beat them as president of the United States - you can count on it."

Edwards then described one of the lawsuits that made him famous - and rich. He was hired to represent the family of a little girl seriously injured in a swimming pool drain. "And I sat with her and her family, and said I know I know this is hard for you. But we can do something about this and then I walked into that courtoom, and I gave that company hell. And that is exactly what we need to do."
The jury award in the swimming-pool case: a record $25 million.

By Bill Hamilton  |  November 10, 2007; 4:46 PM ET
 
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Comments

I'm sorry, but with the way malpractice is out of control in this country, I am very wary of a president who aims to reform American healthcare who has been part of the problem to begin with.
And it is extremely hard to be unbiased towards a profession (malpractice trial attorney) that made you into a MULTI-millionaire.
We need someone new, and free of such strong ties to lobbyists

Posted by: yimmer1 | November 14, 2007 9:52 AM | Report abuse

Correction: Bush won all the SOUTHERN states by a greater margin than he did in 2000.

Posted by: danielhancock | November 12, 2007 8:33 PM | Report abuse

Oh, he is back to that. If you have a medical malpractice case then Edwards is your guy. Well maybe not anymore because it would be hard to pick a jury in a case that he is involved in. He is a celebrity now and it would make it harder for jurors to make an unbiased judgment.

But, winning trials does not qualify Edwards to be president nor does his term in the Senate where he was virtually invisible.

His performance as the 2004 vice-presidential candidate is nothing to crow about either. Look at the debate against Cheney who despite being one of the most unpopular figures of our time looked like a statesman compared to Edwards who looked like a men's suit salesman.

The debate and 2004 results where Bush won all the states by greater margins than he did in 2000 probably make John Kerry wish that he could have a do-over on the Edwards choice.

Edwards continued grasping for themes like a drowning man does little to inspire confidence.

Posted by: danielhancock | November 12, 2007 8:30 PM | Report abuse

Hooray for $300 ipods, etc. Where are you living? The average American baby has less chance to survive infancy than any child in Europe, Japan or Australia. We have a health industry that does all it can to turn healthy people into patients (witness Vioxx and hormone replacement therapy) and Edwards is the only candidate who has a chance of doing anything about it.
As for his haircuts, I'm sure none of the candidate hopefuls shops in thrift or discount stores; nobody but Edwards has earned that money by standing up for those most hurt by our corporate system.

Posted by: songbird228 | November 12, 2007 2:02 PM | Report abuse

The average American would be lucky to have John Edwards going to battle for them against the monster corporations. It is time someone took them on. Our Democratic congress people don't seem to have the drive or the energy. Look what they did to Ralph Nader, who, like Edwards, wants restore America to its rightful owners, the people.
Bev Anslow
145 E Dartmouth
Gladstone, OR 97027

Posted by: BANSLOW | November 12, 2007 12:50 PM | Report abuse

Perhaps Edwards should get paid on contingency as President, if he gets health insurance reform, he gets part of the savings.

Posted by: merganser | November 11, 2007 7:33 PM | Report abuse

Sorry but you got your facts wrong. Edwards was a plaintiff's attorney not a defense attorney. He went after insurance co.'s and other corporations that harmed average citizens. As President I can think of no better fighter for the people than Edwards. He knows the tricks that the insurance co.' use and he has beaten them over and over.

Posted by: pmorlan1 | November 11, 2007 6:22 PM | Report abuse

I agree with the first comment by pmorian1. I too, no longer recognize this country. I also don't recognize the neighborhood I grew up in as a kid 40 years ago. Neither is going to go back to what it was.

Fight for the average American? The average American has wealth far and above anything imagined by my parents. the average American has kids who have $300 ipods, $300 cell phones, and $500 iboxes. Their parents buy Lexus', plasma TVs, and have plastic surgery.

No - not I, but that is the face of America in 2007. The "Little Guy"? He doesn't have a chance.

Especially with a guy who gets $400 haircuts.

Posted by: garyoke | November 11, 2007 9:52 AM | Report abuse

John Edwards was a trial lawyer who represented injured "American citizens."

Hillary Clinton was a corporate lawyer who worked on behalf of corporations, some of which had wronged American citizens.

Hillary Clinton has received more money from Lawyers/Law Firms than John Edwards has.

Posted by: framecop | November 11, 2007 12:39 AM | Report abuse

When you take a stand, people expect you to deliver. The question then becomes who can deliver what they stood for. All of the candidates have virtually make the same promises. The question now stands at who can deliver these promises? Is Barack Obama to new to deliver anything? Has HRC been around the block too many times to change directions. Out of all the candidates, Edwards seems the most likely to deliver. He doesn't have the political baggage and IOU's to justify or satisfy. He is the most likely one to deliver.

Posted by: cliftonjones105 | November 10, 2007 7:26 PM | Report abuse

Edwards is right. We need someone in Washington who will fight for the average American. Average Americans don't have a lobbyist in Washington and it shows. I don't even recognize our country anymore. Everything is stacked against the little guy and it's about time we had a champion fighting for us. And despite the right-wing characterization of trial lawyers I know that trial lawyers fight for the little guys.

There has been a concerted effort by corporations over the years to try to make average Americans dislike trial lawyers. Unfortunately the media has been complicit in this campaign by not letting people know that there is a huge difference between trial lawyers and corporate lawyers. To simplify it corporate lawyers defend corporations when the little guys sue them for wrongdoing. Trial lawyers represent the little guys.

I think one of the reasons why Edwards is not getting the coverage his campaign deserves is because the entrenched interests know that he is one helluva fighter and they don't want him changing their cushy lifestyle. They know that he is legit and will fight for the little guy if he gets in the White House. As he says he has been fighting for the little guy all of his life and that my friends is the honest truth. And anyone that would tell you otherwise is doing it for their own benefit.

Posted by: pmorlan1 | November 10, 2007 7:03 PM | Report abuse

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