candidate John Edwards said Monday in Des Moines, Iowa,
that it's silly to suggest that his wealth and
expensive tastes have hurt his credibility as an
advocate for the poor.
''Would it have
been better if I had done well and didn't care?'' Edwards
that some of the most acclaimed antipoverty advocates came
from privileged backgrounds, including Franklin Roosevelt
and Bobby Kennedy.
''You could see
and feel the empathy they had,'' said Edwards, speaking
from his home in North Carolina during an interview on Iowa
Edwards, a former
North Carolina senator, has made poverty a central
issue of his campaign for the Democratic presidential
nomination and recently released a book on the
subject, Ending Poverty in America. He also has
formed a center for the study of poverty issues at the
University of North Carolina.
on the issue has been challenged by critics who point to
his 28,000-square-foot home in North Carolina and his $400
haircuts. He rejected the criticism, saying a look at
history shows that personal wealth doesn't disqualify
people from advocating for the poor.
''It feels a
little silly to me,'' Edwards said. ''This is an issue I
care deeply about.''
Edwards is the
son of a mill worker who achieved wealth as a trial
The mission of
his campaign is to ensure that all Americans have a chance
for such success, he said.
''It's just where
my heart and my passion are,'' said Edwards, adding
that his emphasis on poverty issues resonates with activists
because few other candidates focus on the issue.
''The reality of
poverty is a very complex thing,'' said Edwards. ''One
problem compounds the next problem.''
* * *
presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton has a message
for rival Barack Obama: I'll fight you for Illinois.
competing across the country, and I wanted to be sure that I
had a chance to come here to let the people in this
city and state know that I don't consider Chicago or
Illinois off-limits to me,'' the New York senator told
reporters on Monday in Chicago.
Clinton, who grew
up in the Chicago suburbs, met with black ministers in
Obama's home state. She also spoke at a luncheon to a group
that provides residential care for young people, and
had breakfast with Chicago mayor Richard M. Daley, who
already has endorsed Obama, the Illinois senator.
the political decision he made,'' Clinton said of Daley,
professing herself to be a ''great fan'' of his.
It's typical for
presidential candidates to try to poach support from
each other's home states, and Obama regularly steps out on
Clinton's turf in New York, aggressively fund-raising
and courting voters.
Clinton will be
back in Chicago next week for a fund-raiser. The event
was postponed because of Senate business.
* * *
presidential hopeful Rudy Giuliani's campaign
message--fiscal restraint and a strong
defense--was tailor-made for the audience before
him in Washington, D.C., Monday.
The former New
York City mayor spoke to a few hundred donors to the
Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, during a
dinner at the Ronald Reagan International Trade
Center. In a well-received speech lasting under an
hour, Giuliani touched on familiar themes of lower
taxes, smaller government, and a larger military.
He did not
address social issues that have started to dog him on the
campaign trail, including his support for abortion rights
and gay rights.
Making light of
his own performance in last week's GOP debate, Giuliani
opened his remarks with a quip: ''I have this very long
description of the difference between Sunni and
Shiite.'' He had stumbled briefly when asked to
explain the difference between the two groups in Iraq.
He also praised
conservative Nicolas Sarkozy's resounding presidential
election win over Segolene Royal in France. He said
Sarkozy's victory ''represents a step forward for the
center-right philosophy of governing,'' and he praised
Sarkozy's ''strong stand on security issues'' and what
he called his commitment to strengthening France's alliance
with the U.S.
Then he held up a
copy of a story about Sarkozy in the New York Post
bearing the headline ''A French Rudy.'' ''I like that
one,'' Giuliani said. ''I thought it was a good
tomorrow...they're going to have 'A French Hillary,' '' he
said to laughs. ''It just might contrast our differing views
on health care, for example.''
* * *
When it comes to
abortion, Mitt Romney has conceded a change of heart
while trying to minimize criticism by noting that some of
his rivals have also flip-flopped on issues.
On a Monday night
fund-raising trip in New York, Romney offered
another defense, saying he is being unduly criticized for
shifting from supporting abortion rights to opposing
presidential contender said he wouldn't endure such
questions had he moved the other way, from opposing abortion
rights to favoring them.
''What I find
interesting is, had I been pro-life and then changed to
pro-choice, no one would ask the question,'' the former
Massachusetts governor said on Fox News Channel's
Hannity & Colmes. ''But if you go the
other direction, as I have and as Ronald Reagan did
and [former Illinois representative] Henry Hyde and
[former president] George Herbert Walker Bush, it's like the
media can't get enough of it: 'Oh, well, why did you
interview Romney was asked which president he would emulate
should he be elected in 2008.
dad. I loved my dad. And he's my hero,'' Romney said.
His wife, Ann,
who was sitting beside him, interrupted and said, ''Isn't
he asking you to pick a president?''
himself and then went on to rattle off the
characteristics of a number of presidents, including
Theodore Roosevelt and Harry S. Truman. (Mike Glover,
Deanna Bellandi, Liz Sidoti, Glen Johnson, AP)