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Edwards Campaigns Before the Big Day
By Taylor Warden, 10
Scholastic Student Reporter

Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards is asked a question by Taylor Warden. (© Adam Nadel / Polaris)
Saturday, January 17—Senator John Edwards had a large turnout—equal in press and supporters—for his first campaign stop of the day today in Des Moines, Iowa. About 300 people crammed into his small campaign headquarters in downtown Des Moines to hear Edwards rally his troops.

"You've already knocked on 100,000 doors in Iowa and we're going to knock on 50,000 more before Monday night, aren't we?" Edwards shouted from where he was standing, on a box of Edwards for President posters in the center of the room.

Edwards has come from fourth place in popularity polls to battle with the top three contenders: Senator John Kerry, former Governor Howard Dean, and Congressman Dick Gephardt. His commercials and speeches have focused on the positive, while the other three have aired negative ads. They've also criticized each other. Edwards says his positive message is the reason for his rise in the polls.

"There is so much energy and excitement and momentum behind this campaign right now, and it's all for a very simple reason," he said. "This campaign is not based on the politics of cynicism; it is based on the politics of what's possible. This country is hungry for that."

With only two days to go before the caucuses on Monday, January 19, Edwards volunteers filed into the headquarters for work assignments as Edwards made his way out to the waiting media. Before climbing aboard his bus for a three-hour drive to the next campaign stop, he took questions from the media, including Scholastic News Online.

He told us what inspired him to run for President.

"It was the belief that we could change the country and do good," he said. "I've never had so much fun in my life. I am excited and energized."

He said the American operation in Iraq should involve other nations.

"We should bring the United Nations to take control of the civilian authority," he said.

Creating jobs in areas hard hit by the economy is a top priority for him, he said. "In the places where job loss has been high, we want to create a venture capital fund to provide seed money to new businesses that are starting."

Inside the headquarters, volunteers split into groups for training sessions. Many were learning how to canvass voters by going door to door in neighborhoods throughout the area. Volunteers canvass by identifying Democratic voters and asking them if they support their candidate. Those who say yes are then asked to attend the caucus meetings on Monday night. Monday, the volunteers will return to those people to make sure they have a ride to caucus locations.

Devon Nelson said the volunteers for Edwards were excited and ready to get to work, and that his pep talk really helped.

"I thought it [his speech] was fantastic," she told Scholastic News Online. "We needed him to get all our volunteers and canvassers excited. I think everybody's ready to go and tell them about John Edwards and tell them they should caucus for him on the 19th."