Democratic presidential hopeful former Sen. John Edwards, D-N.C., right, is introduced by his wife Elizabeth at a town-hall style meeting at the Steelworkers Union Hall in Georgetown, S.C., Tuesday, July 24, 2007.
(AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
PORTSMOUTH — The campaign of Democratic presidential contender John Edwards is setting a blistering primary pace in the Granite State.
After a week of issue-based forums throughout the state — on topics ranging from veteran's affairs to global warming to reforming the country's disabilities laws — the 2004 vice presidential nominee and former North Carolina senator and his wife Elizabeth will criss-cross and cover 13 locations in three days spreading his populist campaign message.
In the Seacoast region, the events include a house party this morning with Elizabeth Edwards in Rye hosted by Mike Schwartz and Sharyn Potter; a house party hosted by Jim and Susan McGeoughin in Epping Saturday afternoon with Sen. Edwards; and a town hall meeting late Saturday afternoon Sen. Edwards at Henry Laws Park in Dover.
Kate Bedingfield, the campaign's state communications director, said the latest blitz signals the Edwards' desire "to fight for every vote in New Hampshire" and talk more about his detailed policy proposals.
Edwards, who has seen his poll numbers erode in the state since March, recently garnered national coverage with a recent "Road to One America" tour through the country's poorest sections, a 21st century return to the areas first highlighted by Robert Kennedy in the 1960s.
In the recent UNH Survey Center primary poll conducted for CNN and WMUR, Edwards fell to fourth place behind New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson. Survey Center Director Andy Smith said Edwards' focus on poverty and economic justice was not resonating yet with Granite State voters because it could be coming across as too pessimistic in a region with a strong economy.
But that's not the case, said former longtime Congressman David Bonior of Michigan, the Edwards campaign's national campaign manager. He has spent the last week traveling the state and taking part in forums in Concord, Dover, and Portsmouth and believes that Edwards' comprehensive approach to multiple issues plays to his strengths and to growing voter concerns.
"You could tell that people are responding to his optimism and commitment," Bonior told the Herald Thursday. Edwards, he continued, is trying to change the political tide by "emphasizing other values more in keeping with the American spirit" rather than simply letting "the free market system" take care of everything.
Bonior, who first tasted the New Hampshire primary experience while campaigning for Vice President Al Gore in 2000, said his extensive time in the state this time around has opened his eyes to how thoughtful voters are and how seriously they take their role as the nation's first primary.
Susan McGeough in Epping said visits from presidential candidates aren't a new thing for her family. Her brother Mark Vallone is the chairman of the Epping Democratic Committee and her parents have hosted various candidates including Jessie Jackson, Al Gore, Fritz Hollings, Joan Mondale, Gary Hart, and Bill Clinton. Her parents are the former owners of Fecteau's store that was a staple in Epping until it closed several years ago.
TODAY: Rye, 11:45 a.m. — Elizabeth Edwards at home of Mike Schwartz and Sharyn Potter, 161 Wallis Road. Contact: Luke Shulman at 918-0853 or at email@example.com.
SATURDAY: Epping, 3 p.m. — John Edwards at the Home of Susan McGeough 119 Prescott Road.
Dover, 4:45 p.m. — Town hall meeting with John Edwards at Rotary Pavilion, Henry Law Park. Contact: Mike Alfoni at 785-2142 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.