John Edwards

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John Reid Edwards
Former U.S. Senator, North Carolina
Image:JohnEdwards.jpg
Party Democratic
In Office from

January, 1999 — January, 2005

Preceded by Lauch Faircloth
Succeeded by Richard Burr
Born June 10, 1953 (age 53)
Spouse Elizabeth Edwards
Religion Methodist



John R. Edwards (born June 10, 1953) is a 2008 Presidential candidate in the Democratic Party. Prior to announcing his candidacy on December 28, 2006, Edwards was Director of the Center on Poverty, Work, and Opportunity at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. From 1998 to 2004 he was a U.S. Senator from North Carolina. He was one of the candidates seeking the Democratic Party's nomination in the 2004 U.S. presidential election, and was the last serious challenger to the presumptive Democratic nominee, U.S. Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts. Edwards was the running mate for presidential candidate John Kerry in the 2004 election.


Contents

Early years

Johnny Reid Edwards was born in Seneca, South Carolina, and spent his formative years in the town of Robbins, North Carolina. His father, Wallace Edwards (born May 28, 1932), was a textile mill worker, while his mother, Catharine "Bobbie" Edwards (born September 26, 1933 as Catharine Wade), was a postal employee. The first person in his family to attend college, Edwards briefly attended Clemson University in South Carolina, where he was passed over for a football scholarship, before transferring to North Carolina State University. He graduated with a bachelor's degree in textile technology in 1974, and earned a law degree in 1977 from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, both with honors. While at UNC-Chapel Hill, he met and married his wife, fellow law student Elizabeth Anania. Edwards has not served in the military - he was not drafted for Vietnam because he had a high lottery number. [1]

Legal career

Before entering politics, Edwards was a successful trial attorney who represented families and children that had been wrongly injured by negligent corporate manufacturers and municipal entities. The highlight of his legal career was a personal injury lawsuit against Sta-Rite, the manufacturer of a defective pool drain which seriously injured Valerie Lakey, a Cary, North Carolina girl, on June 24, 1993. Turning down all offers of settlement from the company, Edwards pressed the case forward until he secured a $25,000,000 award from the jury, the largest personal injury award in North Carolina history. Fellow lawyers and law students crowded the courtroom to hear Edwards' closing arguments, while he spoke to the jury for two straight hours without referring to notes in an emotional appeal.

Drawing on his experience in personal injury cases, Edwards has characterized himself as a defender of "the little guy," although his critics have alleged that Edwards only took on cases that he was sure of winning and that would result in substantial financial settlements. Scrutiny has fallen upon one of Edwards specialties, infant cerebral palsy cases, where scientific evidence has recently suggested that birth conditions only rarely cause the disorder.

Edwards and his wife Elizabeth have four children. Their first two, Wade and Catherine, were born soon after John and Elizabeth's marriage. Just one month prior to the beginning of testimony in the Lakey case in 1996, Edwards lost his son, Wade, in an automobile accident; in remembrance of his son, Edwards wears Wade's Outward Bound pin on his suit jacket. Following Wade's death, Edwards and his wife chose to have children again; their two youngest, Emma Claire (1999) and Jack (2001) were conceived with the aid of fertility treatments. The Edwards family resides in Raleigh, North Carolina and Washington DC; Edwards also owns a beach home near Wilmington, North Carolina.

In December 2003, during his presidential campaign, Edwards (with John Auchard) published Four Trials (ISBN 0-74324-4974), a biographical book focusing on his legal career.

2008 Presidential Campaign

Foreign Policy

The War in Iraq will be the dominant issue in the 2008 presidential primary season and the general election. Foreign policy issues generally, including the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the Israeli-Lebanese conflict, the Israeli-Syrian conflict and the Israeli/American-Iranian conflict, may also be central to the decisions made by voters.

Israel and Iran
Edwards joined Republican presidential candidates Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney and John McCain (by satellite feed) at the January 2007 Herzliya conference. There Edwards made the least bellicose comments of any of the four 2008 presidential hopefuls: "I support being tough, but I think it's a mistake strategically and ideologically not to engage them on this issue. America should engage directly on this issue." Source: Joshua Mitnick. "Candidates Cite Iran Risks." The Washington Times. January 24, 2007. News Report
Edwards urges negotiations with Iran to resolve the Iranian Nuclear Crisis: "Now, what would strengthen him (Mahmoud Ahmadinejad)? A military strike by America against Iran would strengthen him. They would rally around this guy. On top of that, we would see retaliation. It’d be hard for them to get to us, except through terrorists, but they—we got 100,000-plus American men and women right next door, and there—a lot of us believe that there’s an infrastructure for retaliation if that were to happen. What—what’s much smarter for us to do, certainly now, for the time being—no American president should ever take any option off the table—but what’s smarter for us to do now is to continue to tap into this growing isolation between this radical leader and his own people...And what should be done, in my judgment, is we ought—we ought to work with our friends in Europe. You know, actually, the banking institutions in Europe have been pretty good about being tough on Iranian banks. The governments have been less good. But we ought to put an offer of both sticks and carrots on the table. We ought to make it clear that there are things that America and the Europeans are willing to do—it’d be great if we could get the Russians and the Chinese to participate—but certainly the Europeans, they have economic leverage with Iran. And those things include making the nuclear fuel available to them, controlling the cycle—this has been offered before—but combining that with a set of economic incentives that will be very attractive to the people in, in Iran who’re already feeling an isolation from this president. And then on the stick side say, ‘But there will be consequences if you don’t give up your nuclear program. And the consequences are the economic decline that you’re seeing within your own country will be accelerated, and it will be accelerated because the bank—the banks in Europe and the European governments will not continue to do economic business with Iran." Source: Transcript of interview with Sen. John Edwards. Meet the Press with Tom Russert. February 4, 2007. Text

Senate term

Both the success of the Lakey case (which Edwards' called "the best lawyering of my life") and his son's death (Edwards had hoped his son would eventually join him in private law practice) prompted Edwards to leave the legal profession and seek public office. A Democrat, Edwards won election to the U.S. Senate in 1998 by defeating the favored incumbent Republican, Lauch Faircloth.

Edwards' skill as a trial attorney was evident during President Bill Clinton's 1999 Senate impeachment trial. Edwards, who was responsible for the deposition of witnesses Monica Lewinsky and Vernon Jordan, played a critical role in the Senate proceedings that eventually ended in the President's acquittal.

During the 2000 Presidential campaign, Edwards made Democratic nominee Al Gore's Vice Presidential nominee short list (along with John Kerry and Joe Lieberman, Gore's eventual pick), and in November 2000, People magazine named Edwards as its choice for the "sexiest politician." Edwards serves on several Senate committees, including the prestigious Intelligence and Judiciary committees.


Speeches

Rewarding Work And Creating Opportunity Georgetown University, Washington, DC, June 17, 2003
In Defense of Optimism Commonwealth Club, San Francisco, December 12, 2003
John Edwards - Concession Speech Broughton High School, Raleigh, March 3, 2004

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