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Edwards Continues To Court Rural Voters

Democratic presidential hopeful, John Edwards, speaks to supporters Thursday, Dec. 20, 2007 during a campaign stop in Council Bluffs, Iowa.
AP
Democrat John Edwards touted his ties to rural America on Thursday, on the stump and in a new campaign video, and promised anew to fight powerful special interests he says "are stealing your children's future."

Edwards opened his latest Iowa campaign swing with stops in heavily Republican and rural western Iowa, talking up proposals to bolster rural sections of the country. He routinely talks about being born in rural South Carolina and growing up in a series of southern mill towns.

With two weeks remaining before the state's precinct caucuses on Jan. 3, and locked in a tight race with Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton, Edwards sought to stand out from the pack. He dismissed Obama's and Clinton's argument that they are positioned to bring about change in Washington by arguing that he is the candidate who is promising to confront the power elite directly to improve the fortunes of the poor and middle class.

"We are going to take on these people who are stealing your children's future," Edwards said.

"What it takes is a president who uses the bully pulpit to bring the American people behind them," he said. "This is not rocket science. The rich are getting richer and what happened to the middle class. We need to have the strength and backbone to stand up to them.

"We are going to give you back the real Democratic Party," Edwards said.

By stumping across rural areas of the state, Edwards was trying to take advantage of a twist in Iowa's complex caucus system that encourages Democrats to campaign in traditionally Republican and rural areas. Under the system, candidates who can demonstrate support broadly throughout the state can collect more delegates than those whose supporters are clustered in a few urban areas.

"You can have 90,000 people in a city and there are only so many delegates you can get," said Edwards adviser Joe Trippi. "We're playing everywhere because we think we are the only candidate who can play everywhere."

Edwards argued that his ties to rural America make a natural tie with rural voters. He debuted a new campaign video with colorful images and his parents talking about his modest upbringing, including that his father had to borrow $50 to bring him and his mother home from the hospital after he was born.

Joining him on the campaign swing was Dave "Mudcat" Saunders, a fellow Southerner who advises Edwards on rural issues.

Meeting afterward with reporters, Edwards said his populist theme resonates with rural voters.