[Sen. Brian Weinstein comments below, clarifying that while he likes Edwards, he has not endorsed him. The Democrats mentioned below were announced as being in attendance at the event, and their attendance should not necessarily be construed as an endorsement. -Will]
That was the theme of John Edwards’ visit to Seattle yesterday. In contrast to other Democrats in the race for president, John Edwards made it clear that he’s not interested in half measures.
He’s for universal health care, not “we’ll get to the other 15 million uninsured someday.” He’s upfront about how expensive it’ll be, and how he’ll pay for it (rescind the Bush Tax Giveaway for folks making over 200k a year). Edwards talked about the divide between rich and poor, and how this isn’t good for the health of our country. Whether it’s helping kids go to college, attacking global warming, or the war in Iraq, Edwards did not shy away from straight answers. He did not parse words.
After Edwards spoke, I had the chance to talk to Jenny Durkan, Edwards campaign chair in Washington state. Joel Connelly quoted her earlier this year:
“I will be honest: Hillary has impressed me. But we have seen that movie: It was called John Kerry. I hated the ending,” said Seattle attorney Jenny Durkan.
“I cannot think of a time when a person won the presidency by persuading people they were wrong. That’s what Hillary needs to do — persuade a lot of people who do not like her that they were wrong about her.”
Like I told Jenny, Edwards will help down ticket races in a way few candidates can. Sheriffs and county commisioners from conservative areas will be able to stand on the campaign stage with Edwards in a way they might not with other candidates.
Edwards’ overtly populist message plays well in the pointy-headed liberal precincts of Seattle, but also does well in the rest of the state. In Washington, Edwards gets the support of Democrats from all over the state, from Sen. Brian Weinstein to Sen. Brian Hatfield, from Dick Kelley to Yvonne Ward.
Last but not least… John Edwards is an compelling public speaker. There’s a reason why he went from 2% in Iowa to second place back in ’04. Joel Connelly again:
On the Friday night before Iowa’s 2004 caucuses, Gov. Tom Vilsack hosted a reception in Des Moines for the “bigfoot” pundits.
A gang of journalistic middle-feet, myself included, headed out to nearby Madison County — and witnessed Edwards’ campaign on fire. He packed American Legion and VFW halls with blue-collar crowds like Democrats used to attract.
…and ought to attract again in 2008.