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What You May Not Know About John Edwards

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

SURE, YOU KNOW THAT JOHN EDWARDS WAS A TRIAL LAWYER AND A SENATOR FROM NORTH CAROLINA, BUT YOU MAY NOT KNOW . . .

1. In fall 1999, Edwards held a rematch with D.G. Martin, the man he beat for the 1998 Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate in North Carolina. But this time the contest was the grueling Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, and Martin came out ahead. Martin, a decade older than Edwards, finished the race in an unofficial time of 4 hours, 54 minutes and 20 seconds. Edwards came in 41 seconds behind.

2. Edwards's official campaign biography boasts that as a trial lawyer, he "dedicated his career to representing families and children" who were victimized by companies and facing the "powerful insurance industry and their armies of lawyers." But as a young litigator in Nashville, he helped a brake company defend itself against a lawsuit involving a train derailment and subsequent propane explosion that killed 16 people and injured many more. In his 2003 book "Four Trials," he recalled that he attended his first deposition as a lawyer in that case and that he failed to recognize a key change in a witness's testimony. "I learned a lesson," he wrote.

3. Although a native of tobacco country, Edwards supports a nationwide ban on smoking in public places to help reduce cancer, a position that goes against one of North Carolina's most powerful industries. A smoking ban was proposed earlier this year in the state, but the legislature voted it down.

4. Edwards has defended his vote in 2002 to support the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq by saying he was "burdened" by information that was coming to him as a member of the Senate intelligence committee. He missed 78 percent of the panel's public hearings, committee records show.

-- John Solomon and Lucy Shackelford

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