Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Edwards concludes his anti-poverty tour where Robert F. Kennedy did, in Prestonsburg, Ky.

Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards concluded his three-day poverty tour this afternoon at the old Floyd County Courthouse in Prestonsburg, Ky., where Robert F. Kennedy concluded a similar tour as he prepared to run for president in 1968. "This country needs a movement to restore our values. We need a movement that actually embraces work again, not just wealth," he said, according to The Courier-Journal's Stephenie Steitzer.

Samira Jafari of The Associated Press bureau in Pikeville wrote: "Edwards said he wasn't trying to mimic his 'political hero.' 'I don't deserve to be compared to Bobby Kennedy,' Edwards told the crowd that spilled across the courthouse lawn. He added, 'I want America to remember what he did decades ago. I want you to join us to end the work Bobby Kennedy started.'"

AP put Democratic candidate Barack Obama in the same story, saying he "made his own speech for the nation's poor on Wednesday, speaking at a recreation center in the nation's capital, and in a jab at his rival, argued that combating poverty was hardly new for him, a one-time community organizer in Chicago. Edwards, coming off criticism for getting $400 haircuts and building a new 28,000-square-foot mansion, repeatedly tapped into his own humble roots in an effort to connect with the coalfields."

Jafari reported that Edwards "heard firsthand accounts of the problems plaguing the region" and "was especially moved" by Wise, Va., coal miner James Lowe, 51, "whose cleft palate kept him from talking for five decades until a dentist last year volunteered to perform a $3,000 orthodontic procedure for free. Edwards shared the story ... at his other stops, saying Lowe and other low-income workers 'deserve better.'"

In Whitesburg, Ky., Edwards said the only solution to such problems is universal health care, and said that Lowe, "instead of being angry at living 50 years with such a condition in the world's richest nation, "was thankful and appreciative" for his treatment. "When are we going to start treating people like him … with the dignity and respect that they’re entitled to?" he asked.

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