- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 2, 2003

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) Democratic Sen. John Edwards said yesterday he would run for president in 2004, reported a friend who attended a party where the announcement was made.
The first-term senator from North Carolina told about 200 friends he planned to form an exploratory committee for the presidential run, said Walter Dellinger, a former U.S. solicitor general.
"John Edwards is running for president to give Americans a choice," said Mr. Dellinger.
Earlier in the day, Mr. Edwards told reporters he would make his own announcement today, but would not say whether he was entering the race.
Mr. Edwards' announcement gives him the jump on several of his colleagues in Congress who also are expected to join the Democratic field in 2004.
Vermont Gov. Howard Dean and Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts are running, and associates expect Rep. Richard A. Gephardt of Missouri to announce he is running within the next week.
Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman of Connecticut is leaning toward a run, although he hasn't set a final timetable for his decision. Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle still is talking with supporters and plans to decide by mid-January.
Mr. Edwards, 49, a millionaire and former trial lawyer, has spent months making the rounds at Democratic functions in Iowa, New Hampshire and elsewhere.
Standing with his youngest children, 2-year-old Jack and 4-year-old Emma Claire, Mr. Edwards said before the party started that his family was foremost in his mind as he considered a run.
"I've been thinking about North Carolina and the nation and what effect it's going to have on my family," he said.
He is scheduled to appear on NBC's "Today" show this morning to make his announcement official. He also has two fund-raisers scheduled for Saturday in Raleigh.
Mr. Edwards would be up for Senate re-election in 2004, a factor that had to be weighed in making a decision on the presidential race.
As the lone Southerner among the half-dozen potential candidates eyeing the race, Mr. Edwards has garnered a lot of attention. He was an early hit with Democratic activists, who saw him as telegenic and able to connect with voters.
The last three Democratic presidents Lyndon B. Johnson of Texas, Jimmy Carter of Georgia and Bill Clinton of Arkansas have been from the South.
Mr. Edwards grew up as the son of a textile-mill employee, born in South Carolina but spending his teenage years in Robbins, N.C. He became a successful trial lawyer in Raleigh, winning personal injury cases against big companies and amassing a fortune of $14 million.


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