out to Ojai
By Bret Bradigan
Ojai resident Cynthia Lindenbaum
has been trying to get presidential candidates to Ventura County
since 1996. She succeeded Thursday, with the visit by North Carolina
Sen. John Edwards for a meet-and-greet with Democratic faithful
and curious from around the county at the Pierpont Inn.
The crowd of 50 contained an Ojai contingent numbering nearly
a dozen, including Rikki Horne and Rudy Petersdorf, Judy and
Judge Fred Bysshe, Laura and Judge Bill Peck, and Ventura County
Supervisor Steve Bennett.
Edwards ran through the short version of his platform for the
audience before returning to Los Angeles to shoot a television
commercial, then it was off to Texas for another day of event,
before returning to Iowa.
A boyish 50 years old, Edwards is a former trial lawyer known
for his persuasive closing arguments. Speaking as though he
were still a prosecutor, with George W. Bush as the defendant,
Edwards asked the crowd to turn the man out of office.
Citing the 3 million jobs lost during the Bush administration,
the 9 million people out of work and 3 million people who have
given up looking for work, "There's a powerful case to be
made about his mismanagement of the economy."
And that case would likely center around the tax cuts, which,
Edwards argued, have shifted the tax burden to America's shrinking
middle class. "He's put a huge burden on the engines of
economic growth," he said.
The half-hour session began with a quick commentary on his growing
momentum. Polling either third or fourth in Iowa's Jan. 19 primary
race, and inching up to third in New Hampshire, Edwards, who
represents the adjacent state, is well ahead of the pack of nine
candidates in South Carolina, the nation's third primary race.
And that strategy, of gradually gathering recognition and exceeding
admittedly low expectations in the northern states' primaries,
closely parallels that of Bill Clinton in 1992, who was polling
at 1 percent before his campaign caught fire.
"It's all about momentum," Edwards said.
Should he repeat Clinton's success, Edwards, who, with his tieknot
slipped down and is sleeves rolled up, appeared ready to go to
work on a long list of policies and initiatives.
On the economy, he said he would first repeal the tax cuts on
incomes over $200,000, and end tax breaks for companies that
export jobs overseas. He would also establish a national venture
capital fund that would give "tax writeoffs to for bringing
jobs to areas where jobs are most desperately needed."
Education: Teachers would receive cash incentives to teach in
less prosperous and more needy areas of the country. He also
sketched out a plan, "College for everyone," in which
those students with the desire and ability, who were willing
to work 10 hours a week, would be guaranteed a college education.
Iraq: "This president has completely screwed this up. I
don't know how else to say this.' While Edwards voted earlier
this year to authorize the war, he voted against giving the president
the $87 billion he requested for reconstruction efforts. He would
turn over the management of that reconstruction to the United
Nations at the first practical opportunity. He also said that
Bush administration's unilateral moves to disengage foreign policy
from international collaboration began well before Sept. 11.
America's security, Edwards said, depends on understanding how
we are viewed abroad.
"We are much safer in a world where America is looked up
to and respected," he said.
Health care, Edwards said, "Should be a birthright for every
child born in America." To accomplish this bold goal, Edwards
would combine a mix of cost containments and `competition, such
as allowing the reimportation of Canada's much cheaper prescription
Edwards answered questions varying from his support of a woman's
right to choose, and his support of the Iraq war. He spoke about
the need to reach out to the middle class with plans and programs
that speak to their needs, and hopes. 'The middle class always
decides these elections," and while they may not pay much
attention to the New York Times editorial page or CNN punditocracy,
"they are usually quite good at figuring out who has their
best interests at heart."
The Ojai Valley News
to the news
Sen. John Edwards spends moment with Rudy Petersdorf, right,
and Rikki Horne, left, at Thursday's luncheon at the Pierpont
Inn in Ventura.