Report from Edwards Event in Newton

( - promoted by Drew Miller)

Yesterday, I attended the Community Meeting John Edwards held in Newton. The event was held at the UAW Hall and close to 200 people were there. Check out Iowa for Edwards for video of the event and links to news stories.

Edwards opened by saying that our next president needs real ideas and vision, but more importantly needs to be someone with honesty, openess, decency, and someone we can trust. Edwards showed that he is going to be open about his ideas throughout this campaign saying…

When you to caucus in January of 2008, which I hope is for me, you will know where I stand. Not just on health care, but also Iraq, energy, jobs, and global warming. You will know where I stand.

He then outlined his health care plan saying that it is based on shared responsibility. I would write more about the details of the plan, but the Des Moines Register did a good job doing that. Plus, I want to watch the DVD that the Edwards campaign is mailing out to 70,000 Iowans that outlines his health care plan. The biggest positive that I see in his plan is that it provides seemless care, so if you change jobs, you don’t have to worry about changing your health care coverage. Edwards got the biggest ovation when he said that he would pay for the plan by rolling back the Bush tax cuts for the richest Americans.

Edwards spoke about 15 mintues about health care and then opened it up for questions. Edwards did very well in this setting. He was asked about a wide range of topics, answered honestly, and threw in a joke here and there.

On Iran, he said that he would work with Europe to put pressure on Iran by speaking directly to the Iranian people and attempting to drive a wedge between the people and those in power.

Edwards was asked about social security. He said the last things we should do is raise the retirement age or reduce benefits. People who work all their lives, should be able to retire, when they retire. This line got a large applause from the crowd. Edwards said he would think about keeping the cap on Social Security taxes, which is currently at $90,000, and create a bubble to $150,000 or $170,000, so that middle class people don’t get hit with more taxes, yet the wealthy pay more into the fund.

The next question was on immigration and was the most interesting exchange of the day. The man began asking if Edwards considered himself a politician or American first saying that everyone is playing politics and not doing what is right for the country. Then he started asking about immigration. All in all, the man spoke for a couple minutes before Edwards could answer. When Edwards responded, he said that maybe the man should be running, which drew laughter from the audience and the man asking the question. The man responded by saying that he would rather work to get Edwards elected. This type of exchange would not have been able to take place in a larger venue, like the ones Obama and Hillary have had here, or Edwards’ announcement in Des Moines in December. It is these exchanges that make the Iowa Caucuses unique and helps Iowans really get to know the candidates.

Edwards’ response to the question on immigration was that first and foremost it is a border security issue. He said that the current situation is not sustainable. Next, he would have much tougher laws on employers. Finally, the people here should have a chance to earn citizenship. He stressed the word earn by saying they should pay a fine if they came here illegally, they should learn to speak English, and follow the laws.

The next person thanked Edwards for dropping out of the Nevada debate sponsored by Fox News. Radio Iowa wrote about the question and Edwards responds by saying…

We have a bunch of forums and debates…but there’s a limit to how many of those things you need to do. I didn’t see any reason, under those circumstances, to give FOX News a forum.

There’s another question about health care. Edwards says that nearly half of all bankruptcies are due to medical costs and that you are more likely today to file for bankruptcy than for divorce. He then had a good line, saying that those in Washington that say the economy is doing great in America, should come visit the people in Newton and see what it is really like. Edwards the goes on to say that some say universal health care is for the 47 million Americans that are uninsured. He believes it is a moral issue to provide insurance to these people, but his plan is much more. It is for everyone who is stuck in a system that isn’t working.

Edwards then said that baby steps won’t work anymore to solve the issues we face today, not health care, not ridding our addiction to oil, not in Iraq, and that we need real leadership on these issues.

Then a student from Grinnell College asks about the rising cost of college tuition. Edwards discussed his College for Everyone plan that he put into place in 2005 in North Carolina. The plan is if you graduate from college and have the grades to go to college, you get your books and tuition paid if you work 10 hours a week. He discusses our debt for diploma system by saying this plan decreases the debt load students have.

Finally, there is a question from State Senator Dennis Black about ethanol. Edwards says that we need a comphensive investment in developing renewable energy such as ethanol, solar, wind, biofuels, and new technology. We need to conserve and need more fuel efficient vehicles and buildings. Then we need to cap emissions and he would have a cap and trade system. He then transitioned into talking about global warming saying that the situation is an emergency. He close by saying that it is time for the President to ask Americans to be patriotic about something besides war.

At this event, I got a better understanding of where he stood on the issues. I wish he would have talked some about NAFTA, Fair Trade, and outsourcing American jobs. This was the place to bring these issues up.

At his official announcement in Des Moines back in December, Edwards gave a motivating speech that called you to get involved in making America better. I was pumped when I left the event. However, I felt that Edwards was close to be right on the issues, but not quite there yet. At this event, Edwards got a step closer.

Tags: John Edwards

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