Edwards rips into Clinton, Bush

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Democratic presidential hopeful John Edwards assailed the influence of lobbyists in the election process at South Church in Portsmouth, Tuesday.
Don Clark photo / dclark@seacoastonline.com
John Edwards (D)
Former Senator, NC
Born: 06/10/1953
Birthplace: Seneca, SC
Home: Raleigh, NC
Religion: Methodist
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PORTSMOUTH — Presidential hopeful John Edwards kept up his attack on Democratic front-runner Sen. Hillary Clinton during a town hall meeting in Portsmouth on Tuesday, but focused most of his attention on the failure of the current administration.

Edwards spoke for just over 20 minutes, leveling most of his criticism on Clinton before moving on to a 40-minute question-and-answer session in which the Bush administration took the brunt of the attack from the former U.S. senator from North Carolina. Edwards portrayed Clinton as the Washington insider who will keep the status quo in America, saying she has recently become the darling of corporate America.

"I don't want to claim to be holier-than-thou, I have raised tens of millions of dollars myself," said Edwards. "But if you look at this presidential race, the person who has raised the most money from lobbyists — it's not a Republican, it's a Democrat. It's Senator Clinton."

Edwards went on to say Clinton had also been the top money receiver from the health industry, drug companies, insurance companies and from the defense industry.

"We can't trade corporate Republicans for corporate Democrats," said Edwards.

According to the watchdog group the Center for Responsive Politics, Clinton led in all of the industries cited by Edwards except the insurance industry, in which she was fourth behind Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., and Republicans Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani. Defense was not calculated.

Edwards also continued to broadcast his message of universal health care.

"What should be done about health care?" asked Edwards. "There is only one answer. Mandated universal care for every man, woman and child in America."

Edwards went on to say that if he were president and a plan was not passed by Congress for universal care by June 2009, he would tell Congress, "I (will) do everything in my power to take health care away from you."

Edwards said a rollback of the Bush tax cuts on people making $200,000 a year or more would pay for the estimated $90 billion-$120 billion a year his plan would require.

Edwards also laid out his exit strategy for Iraq. Edwards said he would call back 40,000-50,000 troops right away, and then the remaining forces would pull out gradually over the course of a year. He also said that he would engage Syria and Iran in diplomatic negotiations, because it is in the countries' best interests to see a stable Iraq when the United States is gone.