Though he’s officially left the race for the White House John Edwards is still hoping to shape the debate, lending his name to a new “out of Iraq” movement and targeting John McCain for defeat.
Edwards, the former North Carolina senator and twice-failed candidate for Democratic Party’s presidential nomination, has signed up along with his wife Elizabeth to help launch a new effort that will present the war in Iraq as fiscally irresponsible, and place much of the responsibility for the war on Senator McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee for president.
The “Iraq/Recession” campaign, led by a coalition of unions and activist groups such as SEIU, Move On, and the Center for American Progress, will look to tie economic troubles at home to military spending abroad. It will also look to highlight the choice between an anti-war Democrat and a pro-war Republican. Edwards reeled off a laundry list of issues — from healthcare to the mortgage crisis to the potential recession to the number of Americans living in poverty — as symptoms of overspending in Iraq.
“All these things are made much worse by concern about what’s happening in Iraq,” said Edwards in a conference call with reporters. “The war in Iraq, at least from my perspective, needs to be brought to an end for a lot of reasons.”
Edwards criticized McCain’s support for the war and his recent statements that he would be willing to stay in Iraq for “100 years,” if that’s how long it takes to win.
“This is not what the American people want to see,” said Edwards. “If they see a direct connection between the spending in Iraq, the economic anxiety caused by that, the price of oil, the price of gasoline, all those things, and this ongoing war in Iraq. For that reason, among others, they want to see this war brought to an end.”
The $20 million initiative will target not only McCain but several Republican senators facing tough reelection battles this year. But it was clear from Edwards’ comments that the McCain is the top priority of the effort.
“We want to make certain that the American people know that they have a very clear choice in this election,” said Edwards. “And that choice is between a Democratic nominee for president that will end this war and who will focus on all these issues that are creating economic anxiety and insecurity among so many Americans, because that’s what the American people want to see; and the other choice being Senator McCain, the Republican nominee, who intends to continue the war, to continue the incredibly failed policies of George Bush.”
Edwards added, “The American people deserve that choice. I think it will be absolutely clear what the voters want when that choice is presented to them.”