Edwards In His Own Words
Tuesday, July 6, 2004; 4:54 PM
Excerpts from Sen. John Edwards's lunch on November 11, 2003, with Washington Post editors and reporters:
We have families, particularly middle-class families, who have no financial security anymore. They just don't. I mean, we've gone from in the last 20 years from middle-class families being able to save, being able put a nest egg aside, being able to send their kids to college, to teetering on the edge of bankruptcy all the time. I mean millions of middle-class families, not a few. And if you combine that with the potential for loss of jobs, a potential for some health care disaster that they can't pay for, and people feel incredibly vulnerable as a result. . . . Bush will carry the weight of that.
I think it's often true [of] . . . people who think about southern voters, that they have a misperception of . . . [the] configuration of voters in the South. We have Raleigh-Durham, Atlanta, Charlotte, big financial centers with suburbs around them that are very similar to the area around Washington, D.C. . . . There's very little difference. They think the same way, they look at issues the same way. . . . We as Democrats tend to do well there.
I have not supported civil unions because I think that the right thing to do . . . is to identify those places in the country . . . where we can do some real good in this area, starting with some simple things like employment, nondiscrimination, hate-crimes legislation. But I also think we should go further. I think that we do need some reform in our immigration laws and our adoption laws. I think the "don't ask, don't tell" policy is one that needs to be revisited with our military leaders. . . . And I am in favor of partnership benefits. . . . This is a very difficult issue for our country. I think that at least this is another one of those things where you just have to exercise some judgment, I think that there are important steps that we can make that would make a real difference in this country, that would move us to the place where . . . gays and lesbians . . . are treated the way they deserve to be treated.
We have to get the American face off this operation. It has to be internationalized. . . . If I were president today, I would do everything in my power to turn the civilian authority over to the United Nations and provide security through NATO instead of through American forces alone. And that would move us, we hope, in the right direction. . . . There's a judgment here to be made, whether you believe it is more important to put the U.N. and an international face on this operation than it is for America, even if we believe we will do it better and more efficiently and that we have a clearer idea of what needs to be done, which of those is more important? And my argument . . . would be over the long haul, it is clearly more important to transform this into an international operation -- even if we do give up some efficiency in that operation.
The most significant problem we have with our relationship with Saudi Arabia is it's driven by our need for oil from Saudi Arabia. And our relationship is with the rulers and a very hostile, negative relationship with the people themselves, as shown by lots of evidence, including how many of the terrorists who attacked us on September 11 came from Saudi Arabia. . . . If we continue on the energy-dependent course that this administration has us on, there is no chance of changing in any meaningful way our relationship with the Saudis.
I think it is invaluable to listen to what people are saying. I would argue that's one of the things that George Bush is missing. . . . He goes to events. They're all staged. They're ticketed. He needs to go out and do some of this stuff so he hears what people are saying because I think he's completely out of touch because of that. He needs to hear what the American people are worried about. Like someone asked me earlier, what are people asking you about? Well, I can answer that question and I can even tell you what the answers are. It's jobs, health care and Iraq. But I can tell you they're about No Child Left Behind. I could tell you all the things they're concerned about because I listen to it all day long.
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