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challenges rivals with his own message of "change"

challenges rivals with his own message of "change"

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Add John Edwards to the list of presidential hopefuls embracing ''change'' as a tenet of a presidential campaign.

Sen. Barack Obama uses the notion throughout his campaign, branding his ''Hoops, Action, Change'' basketball tournament. One of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's slogans is ''Ready for Change, Ready to Lead.'' But Edwards on Thursday planned to challenge his Democratic rivals' ownership of the word, charging that their ''change rhetoric'' doesn't match their policies.

''It's about real change and a new vision that meets the challenges of the future and inspires the American people to work together for the common good,'' Edwards says in remarks prepared for delivery.

Edwards's speech, his toughest yet against his top rivals, sought to draw clearer lines between himself and better-polling peers.

''Small thinking and outdated answers aren't the only problems with a vision for the future that is rooted in nostalgia,'' Edwards says. ''The trouble with nostalgia is that you tend to remember what you liked and forget what you didn't. It's not just that the answers of the past aren't up to the job today, it's that the system that produced them was corrupt--and still is.''

Edwards planned to tell voters they can't simply replace ''a group of corporate Republicans with a group of corporate Democrats, just swapping the Washington insiders of one party for the Washington insiders of the other.'' He planned to criticize ''the policies of the '70s, '80s, or '90s'' that ''are wedded to the past, ideas and policies that are tired, shopworn, and obsolete. We will find no answers there.''

In an interview Wednesday with the Associated Press, Edwards said his speech was aimed at lobbyists and the influence they wield. He declined to call Clinton a product of that establishment, although his comments clearly showed division.

''It's more whether you want to look forward or look back, whether you want to see a president who is willing to take on the establishment or not,'' Edwards said in previewing the speech. ''I don't believe we can change the country without having a president who is willing to take on the establishment.''

The former North Carolina senator has been tenacious during this campaign, criticizing those who still serve in Washington for not doing more to fight President Bush, end the war, and reject special interests' influence.

Edwards was scheduled to return to New Hampshire on Thursday with his wife, his three children, and a bus for a four-day tour. He also planned a tough push against Obama over which candidate can own the ''change'' moniker.

''I don't think just the word 'change' means much to people. I think what they want to see is...the substance of what you want to do. I mean, what is the policy of the word?'' Edwards said in the AP interview. ''In my case, it's been a very aggressive set of very substantive ideas...because otherwise the change rhetoric all sounds the same.''

Critics have said that despite Obama's pledge for change, he lacks sufficient experience to win his party's nomination or the presidency. It was a question the first-term senator from Illinois sought to quiet during a trip earlier this week to New Hampshire.

A Clinton spokeswoman said the New York senator has been talking about key issues for months.

''Hillary delivered her comprehensive plan to clean up Washington, crack down on lobbyists and increase transparency in the White House four months ago in New Hampshire. She has a record of taking on the special interests, standing up for America's families who have been invisible to George Bush for long enough,'' Kathleen Strand said. ''When she's president she will have the experience to make change happen, starting on day one.'' (Philip Elliott, AP)

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challenges rivals with his own message of "change"

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