- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 27, 2006

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Former Democratic vice presidential nominee John Edwards jumped into the presidential race yesterday, a day earlier than he’d planned, prodded by an Internet glitch to kick off a candidacy focused on health care, taxes and other domestic issues.

The North Carolina Democrat’s campaign accidentally went live with his election Web site a day before an announcement, set for today, that was supposed to use hurricane-ravaged New Orleans as a backdrop.

The slip-up gave an unintended double meaning to his campaign slogan on the John Edwards ‘08 Web site: “Tomorrow begins today.”

Aides quickly shut down the errant Web site but could not contain news of the obvious, even in the shadow of former President Gerald R. Ford’s death.

“Better a day earlier than a day late,” said Jennifer Palmieri, an Edwards adviser.

Last night, Mr. Edwards announced his intentions to supporters in an e-mail.

“I’m running to ask millions of Americans to take responsibility and take action to change our country and ensure America’s greatness in the 21st century,” he wrote.

Earlier yesterday, Mr. Edwards visited the site of his planned announcement for a photo opportunity. He did yardwork at the home of Orelia Tyler, 54, whose house was gutted by Hurricane Katrina and is close to being rebuilt.

In his e-mail, Mr. Edwards said he chose to announce in New Orleans because it demonstrates the power that people have to build America when they take responsibility instead of leaving it to Washington.

Mr. Edwards listed five priorities to change America, including “guaranteeing health care for every single American,” “strengthening our middle class and ending the shame of poverty,” “leading the fight against global warming” and “getting America and the world to break our addiction to oil.”

He also listed “providing moral leadership in the world — starting with Iraq, where we should begin drawing down troops, not escalating the war.”

Taking turns with about 30 young people shoveling loads of dirt in the Tyler back yard, Mr. Edwards declined to discuss the campaign, focusing instead on the slow recovery in New Orleans, where whole neighborhoods remain a wasteland.

“Anyone who’s not concerned with the rate of recovery is not paying attention,” Mr. Edwards said, adding that finger-pointing is part of the problem and that the student volunteers he worked with provided an example of what can be accomplished through cooperation.

The son of a textile-mill worker, Mr. Edwards has been on a fast track most of his life despite his up-by-the-bootstraps roots.

A standout law student who became a stunningly successful trial lawyer, Mr. Edwards vaulted from nowhere politically into the U.S. Senate and then onto the 2004 Democratic presidential ticket — all in less than six years.

Mr. Edwards began building support for his first presidential bid shortly after arriving in the Senate in 1999. He quickly made a name for himself in Congress, using his legal background to help Democratic colleagues navigate the impeachment hearings.

Mr. Edwards kicked off a bid for the Democratic nomination in 2003 and quickly caught the eye of Democratic strategists. Although he won only the South Carolina primary, his skills on the campaign trail, his cheerful demeanor, and his message of “two Americas” — one composed of the wealthy and privileged; the other of the hardworking common man — excited voters.

But Republicans have cast Mr. Edwards as a money-chasing trial lawyer, an image Mr. Edwards has tried to counter by arguing that he represented ordinary people wronged by big corporations.

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