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While the corporate MSM is busy talking about Edwards' hair and distracting from the real issues because Republicans don't have any solutions, the real John Edwards is out there fighting for all Americans, including the 37 million who live in poverty and the 47 million without health care.

John Edwards has said he'll continue to fight to lift people out of poverty and help working people, as long as he's breathing. His commitment to it runs so deep that he opened a poverty center at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, started a college for everyone program to send poor kids to college, co-edited a book of essays by poverty experts, has traveled the country to work with unions to organize workers, and last year he gave the proceeds of a book and at least 28% ($350,000) of his $1.25 million earned income to charities like Habitat for Humanity and International Rescue Committee. He's not afraid to get his hands dirty, either. On more than one occasion, he's participated in Habitat for Humanity building projects in the ninth ward of New Orleans.

Edwards is the only presidential candidate among the top tier with a comprehensive universal health care plan. (Dennis Kucinich also has a universal health care plan.) Edwards is the only candidate with a plan for fighting poverty.

In this diary, I’ll quote from just a few of the many sources around the tubes showing Edwards’ commitment to lifting people out of poverty and to helping working Americans.

Videos:

Edwards and Danny Glover in New Orleans

Edwards: "What are we going to do about at least 37 million -- that's the government's estimate -- at least 37 million of our own people, who wake up every day worried about feeding and clothing their children? Because, I don't know about you, but I think it says something about the character of our country, how we treat those among us who are literally worried just about surviving."

Edwards speaking to the IAFF

Edwards: "I have been all over this country organizing workers into unions, because I believe in my heart and soul, if we want to grow the middle class in this country, if we want to strengthen the middle class, if we want to lift millions of Americans out of poverty, the most important piece of that, certainly one of the most critical pieces of it, is to grow the union movement."

Edwards at Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO(full speech):

Edwards: "I think we desperately need comprehensive labor law reform in this country. And I want to be very clear with all of you about what I believe. I think if someone can join the Republican Party by signing their name to a card, any worker in America ought to be able to join a union by doing exactly the same thing. That's democracy in the workplace." (standing ovation).

"And, before you sit down, we ought to ban the hiring of permanent replacements for strikers and make that the law of the land."

Walk A Day In My Shoes: John Edwards/Elaine Ellis

Elaine Ellis: "I will remember the Senator as a very nice person. I think that he is eager to learn the fact that health care workers need more attention from the government. It was a good day all around."

Will You Stand Up? (excerpt from speech to DNC)

Edwards: "We can not walk away from our people. We can not walk away from the heart and soul of what the Democratic Party is and should be."

John Edwards – Rural Recovery in Iowa

Edwards: "We want to help family farmers, and the best way to help family farmers, in my judgment, is to create a level playing field, and that means cracking down on and being tougher on these big conglomerate, corporate farming operations."

John Edwards – Iowa Women’s Town Hall

Edwards: "If we really want to empower women in this country, if we want to give force to the women's movement in this country, then we want women to have self-esteem, and strength, and respect, and they can't continue to not have health care coverage, or live in poverty, or get paid $.77 on the dollar for doing the same work men are doing. That's not right!"

John Edwards and the Minimum Wage

Before he announced his candidacy for president, John Edwards worked on successful campaigns to get the minimum wage raised in six states.

Danny Glover: "Somebody that cares about working people, somebody who cares about the right for working people to organize and cares for the right for working people to have a decent wage and benefits: Senator John Edwards!"

Edwards on college costs at town hall in Newton, Iowa 3/10/2007

Edwards on his college for everyon program: "There was no government money in it. I raised the money for it, got the community involved. This is what we did. We said to every kid in the area, if you graduate from high school, and you're qualified to be in college, and you commit to work at least 10 hours a week while you're there, we pay for your tuition and books. It was pretty much that simple."

Articles:

The Post Gets It Wrong: Edwards’ Poverty Policy Is Just What’s Needed, by Jared Bernstein

Quote: Here’s what he gets. It’s not just that those baking the pie ought to get fair slices. It’s not even the simple fact that too many poor people are playing by the rules yet still struggling to make ends meet with terribly insufficient incomes. Nor is it the glaringly obvious fact that kids who grow up poor have tremendous disadvantages that it is in all of our interests to avoid.

All those are true and important. But what Edwards gets—and you really want a president who feels this in his or her bones—is that these inequities undermine America. They quietly, slowly, and perniciously erode people’s support for our system of democracy and free markets. Untreated, they lead to distrust and defunding of government, diminished participation in the political system, protectionism and nativism, and a means-spiritedness that is as divisive as it is pessimistic. And I’d argue strongly that this is exactly where we’re headed.

More Piling on the Post’s Edwards and Poverty Article, by Greg Anrig, Jr.

Quote: What’s "new" and "fresh" that Edwards should be praised for is the political courage to focus the public’s attention on this subject after decades of neglect and a set of ideas that, based on research and experience -- as opposed to focus groups and right-wing salesmanship – have the best chance of making significant progress.

John Edwards wants a new Labor Movement (Fortune)

Quote: "The difference between union and non-union is literally the difference between poverty and middle class," Edwards told Fortune. "Hotel workers, restaurant workers, home health workers, hospital workers - at last count there are some 50 million people who work in the service economy. Those jobs aren't going anywhere else. They have to be done in the United States."

Senator Edwards Walks a Day in My Shoes by Elaine Ellis

Quote: Everyday, I provide basic care for nine residents who need attention from the time they wake up to the time they go to sleep. I've been doing this for eighteen years, and while it might look easy on TV, I'm sure the Senator will now be able to tell you otherwise.

Sometimes I feel like nursing assistants like me are at the bottom of the health care debate, but we are the ones who are holding everything up. We know what's wrong, and we know what we need to do to fix things. If politicians listened to us, then we might be able to get some real changes.

Walk a Day in My Shoes by SEIU

Quote: As part of SEIU’s program to ensure that presidential candidates experience firsthand what life is like for working people in America, Sen. John Edwards on April 11th walked a day in the shoes of SEIU member Elaine Ellis.

Protecting Homeowners and Fighting Predatory Mortgages

Quote: Homeownership is the foundation of the American Dream. For most families, the equity they build up in their home is a source of security and the primary source of their wealth. But for millions of families, the dream of homeownership is slipping away. Home foreclosure filings rose to 1.2 million in 2006 — a 42 percent jump — due to rising mortgage bills and a slowing housing market. In Iowa, 3,445 families experienced foreclosure last year, up 64 percent from 2005. Nationally, as many as 2.4 million subprime borrowers have either lost their homes or could lose them in the next few years. Problems in the housing market could weigh down the economy.

Can Edwards win with an ‘us vs. them’ pitch? (USA Today) March 14, 2007

Quote: Murphy, 50, likes Sen. Barack Obama but says the Illinois freshman "hasn't been around long enough." New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton is "too much of a Washington politician." Edwards, he says, "is pretty down to earth and knows what's going on with people at my income level."

David Kuo: Is John Edwards for Real? (Beliefnet)

Kuo: "I believe John Edwards. I believe his passionate statements on behalf of the poor. I believe that the faith he says animates him is real. I believe that he has made quiet and selfless trips to care for the suffering around the world. I believe he knows what poverty is like and that his faith in Jesus requires him to care for the poor. I believe that those who criticize him for living in a huge house while talking about the poor should shut up - by that standard should only the sick get to talk about health care? I really, truly, absolutely believe John Edwards."

Rural Recovery plan

Quote: "Rural America has been ignored for too long," said Edwards. "Across America, too many small towns have turned into ghost towns. We need to help small towns and rural communities create and keep new businesses and good jobs, and we need a President who will make sure all our communities have good schools, good health care and the support systems they need. As President, I will make sure rural America is never left behind."

Working Society

Quote: Edwards has outlined a Working Society initiative to lift 12 million Americans out of poverty in a decade and beat poverty over the next 30 years. In the Working Society, everyone who is able to work hard will be expected to work and, in turn, be rewarded for it.

More Than Just Talk by Bob Herbert, New York Times

Quote: Mr. Edwards, who announced his campaign for the presidency in the Ninth Ward, has stood by his commitment to make poverty one of his big campaign issues. I mentioned that poverty has not gotten much attention from the national media, and asked why middle-class Americans should care about the issue.

"First, you should care because it's a moral issue," he said. "It tells us something about the character of our country. And, by the way, I think most people do care about it. And second, you should care because if you want to see the American economy grow and strengthen over time, the strength and breadth of the middle class is a critical factor. When we have middle-class families struggling on the edge, falling into poverty or near poverty, those things weaken the American economy."

John Edwards: ‘My Faith Came Roaring Back’

Edwards: What I intend to continue to do, though, if I can bring us full circle back to the beginning of this discussion, is no matter whether anyone asks, no matter whether any other candidate ever raises the issue, as long as I'm alive and breathing and as long as I am a presidential candidate, I will be speaking up for the little guy. And I think that a lot of that has been lost in American politics for strategic political reasons. And their voice needs to be heard--desperately needs to be heard. And if I do nothing else, their voice will be heard through me.

Think a rich guy can't care about poverty or working Americans? John Edwards cares about as much as another rich guy: FDR. That's right. I'm comparing him to the president who effectively ended poverty for millions of American families. Edwards will not rest until he does the same.

While people are struggling to keep their families fed and some are dying from lack of health coverage, the MSM continues to divert from real issues Americans are facing. Edwards fights on.

Cross-posted, with modifications, from my blog

update: fixed a minor typo

Originally posted to be inspired on Tue May 22, 2007 at 09:09 AM PDT.

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