Sunday, July 29, 2007

Two stories on John Edwards

I read two interesting stories on the John Edwards campaign this week.

Jonathon Tasini discusses an interesting Wall Street Journal article on how Edwards is seeting the agenda for the Democratic field. The WSJ article is for subscribers only, but here's two key paragraphs.

John Edwards may be stuck in third place in the polls and fund raising in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination. But the populist seems to be playing an outsized role in driving the terms of the party's debate -- generally to the left -- on everything from Iraq to health care.

This week, the former North Carolina senator has made his most prominent bid yet to place the oft-ignored issue of poverty prominently on the 2008 agenda, with a four-day tour of some of the most run-down parts of the South and Midwest, beginning with his sixth trip this campaign to this city, devastated by Hurricane Katrina. He has talked about the issue more than any of his rivals, and was the first to craft a "poverty" plank in his platform.

David Moberg has a fascinating In These Times article "The Union's Man?"

Edwards walks the talk as well, often on picket lines. The week after his swing through Iowa, he joined a rally at the giant Smithfield hog processing plant in his home state to demand that the company, a notorious labor law violator, recognize workers when a majority signs union cards. During the past two years, the Edwards campaign claims, the former senator and vice-presidential candidate has taken part in more than 200 different union events with more than 20 unions, including a national contract campaign tour for hotel workers, a fast with janitors organizing at the University of Miami and an airport rally in Texas for Continental Airlines ramp employees who were organizing.

“He’s redefined the way public officials engage the ongoing work of the labor movement,” says Chris Chafe, the former chief of staff of UNITE HERE and one of several labor officials with high-level positions in the Edwards campaign—not counting campaign manager David Bonior, the former staunchly pro-union congressman who previously headed American Rights at Work, a labor-rights advocacy group. “I don’t think anyone has come so close in recent memory to putting himself so squarely behind issues central to the labor movement. We’d welcome institutional endorsements, but our goal is to have workers and union leaders focus on what he does as well as what he says.”

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