Edwards' Supporters Are Revved Up

This story was written by Lauren Skiba, The Daily Iowan
After a woman came up to Democratic presidential-nomination hopeful John Edwards four years ago and told him she would have voted for him but he never asked her to, Edwards swears he will never make that mistake again.

Coming on the same day he received an endorsement from Mari Culver, who is married to Gov. Chet Culver, Edwards asked his listeners to vote for him at a Tuesday night speech at Coe College in Cedar Rapids.

"Please go to the caucuses," he said. "And bring five friends."

Dan Leistikow is one of the Edwards supporters who will work hard to ensure many participants back the former North Carolina senator on Jan. 3.

He has been campaigning for Edwards since the beginning of April. Though he now works out of Des Moines, four years ago Leistikow voted for Edwards in the Wisconsin primaries.

"I really loved his message," he said.

His reception seemed to be universal throughout the room. Service Employees International Union member Kathryn Wright said Edwards' health-care plan was of huge importance to the union, which has many members from the health-care industry.

"He works a lot with recovering, elderly and disabled people," Wright said.

The union attendees, she said, were from all over the country, like her. Other were from the local area, such as Melinda Myers, a nurse at the UI.

She got to meet Edwards in the past, and he made quite an impression on her.

"He is an extraordinary human being," she said. "I can't even find the words."

In 16 days, Myers said, she will caucus along with some fellow union members and other supporters. She noted the importance of getting as many people out that night as possible, but she admits she doesn't know how the results will end up.

"It's really up in the air at this point," she said.

Preceding the arrival of Edwards, Culver spoke, declaring her support for the Democratic hopeful. Next, Edwards' wife, Elizabeth Edwards, introduced her husband to the crowd.

According to a Quad-City Times poll of likely caucus-goers, Edwards and Hillary Rodham Clinton are tied for second in Iowa with 24 percent of the vote, tailing Barack Obama by 9 percentage points.

"His position on trade and health care are very important," said Gary Gruwell, who retired from working at a box plant in Cedar Rapids and is now part of Steelworkers for Edwards.

Gruwell joined a dozen of these steelworkers who came together to show their support for Edwards.

"We need him," Gruwell said. "And he is going to carry the stakes at the caucuses."

As Edwards spoke about the necessary changes that need to happen, the crowd erupted in a cheers of support.

"We're going to get the Democratic Party back, and we're going to get the White House back, and we're going to get America back," Edwards said.

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