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Edwards Takes His Poverty Tour to Cleveland

CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Former Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.) poverty tour stopped here today for a noontime event highlighting the dangers of predatory lenders.

Moriah Crenshaw, who is in the midst of a fight for ownership of a house in which she has lived since the 1970s, gave Edwards the blow by blow of the struggles of home owners in her community during a walk around the block that took more than a half hour thanks to the large retinue of television cameras, photographers and print reporters in tow. Dressed in a blue long sleeve shirt and dark khakis, Edwards appeared at ease during the stroll, stopping several times along the way to chat with well-wishers and children.

The goal of the event here as well as the larger three-day poverty tour, according to Edwards, is to "shine a bright light on the poverty that exists in America." He spoke in sharp terms about lenders who prey on low-income homeowners at a press conference at the end of his block walk, calling for and end to the "raping of families in this neighborhood."

Edwards has spent much of his time since his unsuccessful 2004 bids for president and vice president focused on making poverty part of the daily discussion in the 2008 debate. (It might just be working; Sen. Barack Obama is scheduled to deliver an address on urban poverty tomorrow in Washington.)

Edwards' decision to dedicate so much time and energy to dragging poverty into the national conversation has long been met with skepticism by political professionals who believe the issue simply does not move or motivate voters.

In an interview today for washingtonpost.com's "PostTalk" program, Edwards said his dedication to the issue comes from his modest upbringing and the time he has spent with those less fortunate throughout his life -- especially following his 2004 defeat.

Edwards brushed off media reports about his expensive haircuts and his spacious home in North Carolina as distractions that do a disservice to the thousands of Americans living in poverty. "I want the media to focus on the people we are talking about," Edwards said.

-- Chris Cillizza

By Chris Cillizza  |  July 17, 2007; 4:34 PM ET
Categories:  Eye on 2008  
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