Campus & Community / Magazine Feature

John Edwards visits DU, speaks about war on poverty

Former North Carolina Senator and two-time Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards told reporters and activists at a University of Denver news conference July 22 that he is committed to fighting poverty “as long as I’m alive.”

Edwards, who based his 2008 candidacy on fighting poverty in the U.S., said he heard strong commitments from both remaining candidates Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama when he withdrew from the race this spring. He said he believes Obama will keep his word and make fighting poverty a priority.

Promoting his plan for “Half in Ten,” reducing the number of Americans living in poverty by half in the next 10 years, Edwards spoke with reporters and members of the activist group Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN).

“As long as I’m alive and breathing, I’m going to be fighting this fight,” he said. “Think of me as your megaphone.”

Edwards also was questioned about the possibility of joining Obama’s ticket as a vice presidential candidate.

“I’m not seeking the job. I don’t expect to be asked,” he said. “But anything Barack Obama would ask me to do, either in the campaign or his presidency, I would consider seriously.”

Edwards’ plan for reducing poverty calls for increasing the minimum wage and indexing it to inflation, increasing child care subsidies and child credits, expanding the earned income tax credit and expanding unemployment insurance benefits.

He said he was encouraged by the work done by Colorado’s leadership.

As for the Democratic Party’s platform, when it is hammered out in August at the Democratic National Convention in Denver, Edwards said he is not part of the platform committee but expects fighting poverty to be a major plank.

Peter Groff, who heads DU’s Center for African American Policy and serves as president of the Colorado State Senate, joined Edwards at the news conference. Offering some inside information, Groff, who is on the Democratic national platform committee, said it would be included in the final platform.

Edwards acknowledged that other efforts to fight poverty, dating back to President Lyndon Johnson’s “War on Poverty” in the 1960s, have had successes and failures, creating an unintended dependence on aid rather than financial independence. He said he is learning from the past as he takes aim at the future.

“I think we have reason to be optimistic that we can eradicate poverty in America,” he said. “It is the cause of my life.”

Watch a video of Edwards.

Comments are closed.