Hanging out with
new pals at a buzzing Manchester, N.H., tap room,
Cate Edwards sounded like any other college student cracking
wise over a beer.
Among the topics
for debate: Of Jon Stewart's Daily Show interviews,
which wins the award for most awkward? By consensus,
they picked last month's appearance by Vice President
Dick Cheney's wife, Lynne.
It's a typical
night at the barroom, and no place for a presidential
stump speech. And that suits the daughter of Democratic
White House hopeful John Edwards just fine.
''I think it
helps to have a young person talk about the issues in a way
that's relatable,'' Cate Edwards said. ''I feel more
comfortable talking to them, and I think they feel
more comfortable talking to me, because I'm not that
well polished and because I'm just a regular 25-year-old.''
On her first solo
campaign trip through New Hampshire, Edwards tooled
around the Granite State on Friday and Saturday in a minivan
packed with campaign staff, making the case for her
father in the most casual of ways. Her language when
discussing policy wasn't always as pristine as that of
a candidate. She usually referred to Edwards as ''my dad,''
except when joking that he's ''a hick.''
Harvard Law School student, Cate Edwards also didn't
hesitate to point out that she and her father disagree on
some issues. Some are serious, such as same-sex
marriage. Others, such as whether he should dance in
public, not so much.
good,'' Cate Edwards joked of her father's dancing. ''It's
very dorky. And I don't say that as a politician's daughter,
I say that as a daughter. I mean, you just don't want
to see your dad do that.''
There were no
rallies or town hall meetings on her schedule. Instead, she
had coffee with students at a Dartmouth sorority house,
drinks at the Manchester bar with other young
Democrats, and a gathering with high school students
who won't even be old enough to vote next year.
''You get a
different perspective,'' said Alyssa Robins, a 22-year-old
senior at Dartmouth and president of a sorority that hosted
Edwards. ''There's always an uncertainty about how
genuine a candidate is when you're always seeing them
in a political perspective.
''When you get to
hear someone your age talk about the person, in a
setting like this, it feels more real,'' Robins said.
enlisted friends at Harvard, where she is a volunteer at the
university's Legal Aid Bureau representing families facing
eviction, to canvass for her father, a former North
Carolina senator making his second run for the White
House. A Princeton graduate, she appeared at several
events this past weekend with Kate Michelman, an Edwards
adviser and former head of NARAL Pro-Choice America.
just another whole dimension to this campaign,'' Michelman
said. ''The family represents all the different aspects of
the issues that they are running on.'
Wade died in 1996 in an automobile accident. Her two
younger siblings -- Emma Claire, 9, and Jack, 7 -- are
fixtures on the trail and drew a full-fledged media
horde when they spent Halloween trick-or-treating with
their father in Bedford.
On the GOP side,
Mitt Romney's five sons are active participants,
blogging as the ''Five Brothers'' and traveling in the
''Mitt Mobile.'' Other children of the candidates are
less visible. Rudy Giuliani is estranged from his two
children. Chelsea Clinton, the former first daughter
who works in New York's financial district, has made some
appearances for her mother, New York senator Hillary Rodham
father's first campaign for president in 2004, Cate Edwards
said she held the ''cynical'' belief that young people
didn't care about the political process. But she said
she discovered that they were eager to participate,
but not always included in the process.
are very interested in what's going on in politics and
very interested in the direction of this country,'' Cate
Edwards said. ''But one of the problems is that they
just don't feel that they have a voice.''
Illinois senator Barack Obama are more popular among younger
voters than John Edwards, according to several polls. Cate
Edwards thinks that's a product of how her father is
perceived -- something she sought to fight by sharing
stories about her family, from their political
discussions over dinner to how she and her mother,
Elizabeth, disagree with his opposition to marriage
''One of the
things we can do as family is to be character witnesses for
our parents and for my dad,'' Cate Edwards said. ''It's
really easy to talk to him as a real guy and a regular
guy, because he is.''
soft-spoken, Edwards grows most animated when defending her
father from critics who suggest that his large house, pricey
haircuts, and work at a hedge fund betray his focus on
speaking for the less fortunate.
Cate Edwards said
her father's advocacy for the poor always has been a
central focus of his life. She told the story of how
Edwards, when he was still a practicing trial
attorney, would raise money through his firm to buy
gifts for children from a low-income neighborhood in
''He always said
to us, 'This is really important because we're
incredibly lucky, and we've gotten all kinds of blessings
and other people haven't. We need to give back,'''
Cate Edwards said. ''And that's something he always
instilled in us.''
But, as is her
style, the story also came with just the right amount of
snark about her dad to help connect with voters her own age.
''My dad is a
terrible gift-wrapper, so he wasn't really allowed near
them,'' she joked. ''He would dress up as Santa Claus, and
he makes a terrible Santa Claus -- he's too skinny and
too tan.'' (Mike Baker, AP)