John Edwards, the Democratic Party’s pick in 2004 for vice president, made it official on Thursday — he’s running for his party’s 2008 presidential nomination. Edwards held a “town hall meeting” in Des Moines late Thursday afternoon. Edwards walked into the hall to the song “Times Like These” by the Foo Fighters, then Edwards told the crowd of over 1,500 that it was good to be back. “It’s even better to be back as a candidate for the presidency of the United States of America,” Edwards said.
Edwards stood in the midst of the crowd, in front of a banner that read: “Tomorrow Begins Today.”
“That means something. What it means is that I don’t want us to stand by and wait for the next election,” Edwards said. “…We want to start doing things now to make this country better.”
Edwards encouraged his supporters in the room — and those who were listening on-line — to join the “One Corps” public service organization which Edwards helped form. His campaign has scheduled a “National Day of Action” in January for Edwards’ supporters to participate in public service projects. “We need to bring about the change that Iowa and our country needs,” Edwards said. “…The truth is I learned a lot from the campaign but I learned even more since the campaign because I’ve seen what people can do when they decide to take responsibility and take action.”
Edwards promised that if he’s elected president, he’ll focus on domestic issues like poverty and Edwards said he’ll soon release his health care reform ideas to ensure “universal” coverage. Edwards also promised to take action on the international front to bring U.S. troops home from Iraq and take other steps to restore the “moral leadership” of the U.S. abroad. “This campaign will be a grassroots campaign. We want people to hear our voice and I want to hear the voices of people here in Iowa and all across this country,” Edwards said. “I want to hear from you. I want to hear your ideas of what you think we need to do, but we want you engaged and involved.”
Edwards answered audience questions for about 45 minutes. Three of the questions focused on the situation in Iraq and Edwards received some of the loudest applause of the evening by saying it would be a mistake to “escalate” the war in Iraq. “What we should do is make it clear we’re not going to stay in Iraq,” Edwards said. “The best way to make it clear is to actually start leaving.”
Edwards left Iowa shortly after the event, bound for New Hampshire where he will campaign Friday.