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Overflow crowd greets third leg of Edwards' US presidential candidacy announcement tour

Overflow crowd greets third leg of Edwards' US presidential candidacy announcement tour

Democratic presidential hopeful John Edwards asked an overflow crowd to join him Friday in taking responsibility for problems ranging from poverty to global warming.
Nearly a quarter of the crowd of more than 800 were left standing outside in 30-degree Fahrenheit (-1-degree Celsius) temperatures after the elementary school cafeteria where Edwards was to speak quickly filled up.
The former North Carolina senator and 2004 vice presidential nominee ended up giving his introductory remarks outside, using a microphone that broadcast his voice inside, before heading indoors.
"What we're asking is for you, the people of New Hampshire, not to wait for the next election to take responsibility," he said. "Identifying a problem and talking about hope is talking about tomorrow. We can't wait until tomorrow."
New Hampshire was the third stop on Edwards's six-state, three-day tour to announce his second candidacy for the Democratic presidential nomination. The early announcement allows him time to build grass-roots support in states with early nominating contests, including Iowa, Nevada, South Carolina and New Hampshire, where Edwards finished fourth in the 2004 primary to select delegates to the party's national presidential nominating convention.
Edwards has hardly been a stranger since then, returning to the state just three months after the 2004 general election and at least nine more times before officially starting his second campaign this week.
But although Edwards is claiming an edge in experience over his potential 2008 rivals, his familiar face may not be an asset _ Illinois Sen. Barack Obama has shot up in polls in the weeks since his first visit to the state earlier this month attracted a sold-out crowd of more than 1,500 people at a Democratic Party fundraiser.
And, perhaps none of the potential Democratic candidates knows New Hampshire as well or has as extensive a network of supporters as New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, the former first lady.
Edwards said the turnout Friday showed he still had lots of friends in New Hampshire, in addition to those attracted by the theme of his new campaign _ getting Americans involved in solving problems.
Those who squeezed inside the school cafeteria came ready with questions.
Asked his view on gay marriage, Edwards called the issue "the single hardest social issue for me personally."
"Civil unions? Yes. Partnership benefits? Yes," he said. "But it's a jump for me to get to gay marriage. I haven't yet got across that bridge."
"I wish I knew the right answer," he said after one audience member booed.
Besides, Edwards, only Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack and Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich have formally announced they were seeking the Democratic nomination.
Other potential candidates include New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, retired Gen. Wesley Clark, and Sens. Joe Biden of Delaware, Chris Dodd of Connecticut, and John Kerry of Massachusetts, the party's 2004 nominee. Former Vice President Al Gore has said he has no plans to enter the race, but he has been careful not to completely rule out a bid.
Likely to face a larger field of competitors, Edwards is offering a new message focused on universal health care, poverty, energy and global warming. He continued to apologize for his vote to use force in Iraq, but New Hampshire Republicans were not ready to let him off the hook.
State Republican Party Chairman Wayne Semprini seized on that vote to claim Edwards has a record of saying one thing and doing another.
"John Edwards likes to talk of two Americas, but in reality there is only one America but two John Edwardses," he said Thursday. "I think trust will be a real issue for John Edwards; he has his work cut out for him here in New Hampshire."


Updated : 2021-05-17 00:40 GMT+08:00