Monday, November 12, 2007

Edwards: Democrats need to 'grow a spine'

Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards this weekend in Carroll said members of his party in Congress should tie any funding of the war in Iraq to a timetable for complete combat troop withdrawal.

Speaking to a crowd of more than 250 (267 signed in) at the Swan Lake State Park Conservation Education Center, Edwards, a former U.S. senator from North Carolina and 2004 vice presidential candidate, said the Democratically controlled Congress is not using the mandate American voters gave it on Iraq.

“The Congress needs to grow a spine, stand up to George Bush,” Edwards said.

In addition to calling for troop pullout, Edwards said the Congress should take a position that there will be no permanent military bases in Iraq.

In a folksy, populist speech, Edwards said strongly criticized U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., the Democratic presidential front-runner, for recently voting to designate the Iranian Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist organization. He thinks the vote rolls out the red carpet for the Bush administration to go to war with Iran.

“We’ve heard this song and dance before,” Edwards said.

He added, “I strongly disagree with her (Clinton). We cannot give this president an inch.”

Edwards said a “rigged” and “corrupt” U.S. government is funding much of the war in Iraq with no-bid contracts and using largely unaccountable mercenaries from organizations like Blackwater to fight the conflict.

“This is not the way our government is supposed to work,” Edwards said.

A highly successful trial lawyer before his service in the U.S. Senate, Edwards said he would use the courtroom skills he honed against big business and insurance companies to take those interests on from the White House, chiefly to provide for universal health care.

He suggested that some other Democratic candidates are not up to the challenge.
“Replacing a group of corporate Republicans with corporate Democrats will not bring about the change we need,” Edwards said.

If elected president, Edwards said, he would seek to strip members of Congress of their health-insurance plans if they don’t provide the American people with a similar system by July of 2009. That line brought some of the most sustained applause in his Carroll visit.

Edwards has a question for those Republicans — and Democrats — who offer health-care plans he doesn’t think include enough people.

“I want them to explain to me what American is not worthy of health-care,” Edwards said.

In the area of education and energy Edwards said he supports a national cap on carbon emissions and wants to see more money spent on biofuels. He is opposed to any new nuclear plants.

Edwards also blasted the North American Free Trade Agreement and expressed concern about imports from China.

“When are we going to say ‘enough is enough,’” Edwards said.

This post also appeared at Iowa

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