Blogging with....John Edwards? - Granite Grok

Blogging with….John Edwards?

Yup, former Senator John Edwards!

Senator John Edwards Hart's Turkey Farm
Senator John Edwards (GraniteGrok photo) 

No, the ‘Grok has not gone over to the Dark Side.  Rather, we actually have a plan:

  • We want to know what the Dems are doing
  • Doug and I believe that this may be last Prez cycle that will have true retail politics (with so many states moving up their primary / caucus events, NH may finally lose the First in the Nation status)
  • And yes, it does tend to upset some of the local Dems (but not all!) who really do believe that we are part of the core of the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy!

So, I went!  This time, just a quick jaunt north to Meredith at Hart’s Turkey Farm (which is actually a great restaurant that has REALLY good turkey dinners all year long). 

The crowd was different than some of the Repub ones that we’ve covered lately – a tad older, a tad more willing to shout out questions, and much more willing to respond back to the speaker.  When they asked questions, they did sound madder than those at the Repub events – or are they more "into" the moment?  BDS?  Certainly, there was more emotion shown by these event-goers than on my side of the fence.  

Unlike almost all of the other candidates that host these events, there was no buildup (even though he was a bit late) to his entrance – no special theme song, no heads up from the campaign staff, nothing.  As you can see from my rough notes (after the jump), I actually missed his entrace – he just appeared out of no-where (actually, coming in from the kitchen next to the meeting room).  Certainly caught the local lady doing the introducing flat footed. 

My impression (and remember my bias – I’m a card carrying member of the VRWC!)?

He is well spoken and got right into a cadence quickly (for a multi-millionaire trial lawyer, one should not expect anything less). Certainly, he was never at a loss for words!  I did notice that when he was asked a question, there was a bit more of a tendancy to zero in on the questioner a bit more than I have seen other candidates do.  When he was honking on the big corporations, he certainly got more animated.

And that is part of my problem: 

Given that he is a good trial lawyer (and let’s give him his due – like it or not, he’s good at it), I cannot be sure if the emotion he shows is real or is it a function of his training and vocation?  His job was to convince people of his view point by any means possible – and that, at times, takes acting.  Not that no other politicians can act too, but it does leave a question in my mind – deep down belief or political point?

I didn’t record all of his speech and missed the first question – but FWIW, here’s what I got. 

Click here to listen (about 30 minutes)

Considering how far away I was (Note to JE campaign staff – the MSM is not happy over THIS event!), it recorded fairly well (Edirol R-09 by Roland – I LOVE it!) 

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Rough notes: 

 

11/25/07 John Edwards at Hart’s Turkey Farm (how appropriate for a political event)

2:00 Pretty poor press arrangements. For those that know Hart’s, we are in the room next to the bar, and it is basically a long narrow room. The end of the room has an American flag with an "open" area with chairs surrounding it….about 10 chairs long and few across. The press area is 1/2 way down and consists only of about one row of chairs wide – for tripods. Not very good at all and no special seating for dead tree reporters. No WiFi at all. I sat in the chair for the tripod area and was asked to move back a row. I noticed that they only had an extension cord running to the middle of the room, so I connected my surge strip to it. And yes, the campaign staff never bothered to return to put one in – their only response was to put in the “sound box” from which the camera crews could get a sound feed. The crews and reporters looked at the single strip and were miffed. No riser for the cameras, no tables for laptops.

2:10 and the room is starting to fill up. Mostly much older people are coming in….again, NH casual dress as with the Fred Thompson event

2:20 Took a few shots. The place is really starting to fill up at this point in time. The young campaign staff seems to be a tad disorganized with getting people into the seats and keeping the ‘press area" clear – kinda amusing as no press has shown up with the vaunted "tripods".

People are talking….I have been recognized by a few people, as I heard a couple of disparaging remarks concerning "that guy" and "that Republican". Hey, at least I try to treat the Cookie Lady with respect when in person (but not her ideas that her group is espousing. Hey, where is she? Or do they only show up with their wares at Republican events?). All in day’s work….ha!

I did ask about a Press Avail – there should be one outside after the meeting.

2:25 – the room is now officially packed. I’d get up and take a few more shots, but I’m not sure that I’d get my seat back. Folks are lined up and down the walls and every seat is taken. While the idea of selecting smaller rooms to make sure that is seems that there is overwhelming support for a candidate is great PR, it does make for warm rooms (especially with the winter clothing on).

It’s always amusing to watch the campaign staffers with cell phones attached to their ears – just like our Pat, with two going at the same time and they’d be texting on a third if they could. Sounds like Edwards is running about ten minutes late.

Dang, with an older crowd around me, they are pretty much quiet. The campaign did have thick booklets to hand out to every one that tells what Edwards stances and plans are. I do have to say that a lot of them are being read. The staff is also handing out Edwards campaign signs to wave for during the event.

2:31 – they just brount in the sound box for the camcorders….good thing that I had brought in my surge outlet. However, these guys are not thinking too straight as they are not taping anything down and two people have already tripped over the wires (say, in two minutes). I love it – the "tripods are setting up in front….wonder if they are the campaign cameras?

2:35 – a staffer just announced that he is almost here….given the volume of her voice, almost everyone ignored her. Heh! – three cameras right in the front area instead of where they should have been setup. The ‘Grok Field Representative, who was sitting up front said that a number of people were getting real upset with the camera crews – the attenders came early just to get a good seat, and now all they have a view of is the seat end of the camera operators. Actually, the MSM did seem rather rude in that respect….

Just met Kate, the press secretary….she said that there would not be a press avail as Edwards is running late. Drat!

Now the rest of the press is coming in with laptops, and boy are they upset in that they do not have a place to sit other than the floor. One lady is absolutely spitting mad – I wish I had asked who she was with to see the write up later!

2:41 John Edwards just came in No announcement, people are now standing. Didn’t catch the name of the lady from Meredith who is intro’ing John….she noticed the size of the crowd and made a crack "and you thought that this was a Republican stronghold!". Evironment, healthcare, poverty – he’s a leader in all areas. Not the typical American story – he will be the leader that will fight to get the country back. And then Edwards took over.

 

Remembers coming 2004 and remarks that there were far fewer attendees back then (gets a small laugh from the crowd).

Hope you had a good Thanksgiving. Elizabeth and kids are doing great…started in on a Xmas tree the day after.

Now know when the NH primary is!

Bashing Bush example – we need a President that will know about the middle class pressures and how to help. What Edwards would do:

  • Use the oil reserve to release price pressure
  • Low income heating program – that should be expanded because of the troubles today that people are facing
  • Expand the winterizing program

 

All things that Bush should be doing to drive down short term cost of heating. We need to find out if the pil companies are gouging (large applause). We know they control the whole process – Justice should be investigating. We need to stop subsiding these huge oil company profits.

 

This is a bigger problem – big corps – oil, drug, insurance, energy – all of these at the same time see their profits are historic highs. It is because they know how to influence and corrupt the democracy that sways the process against common people. He was against Part D of Medicare – mentioning that the lobbyists wrote the law. He wants to kill the drug ads on TV. He says that the drug companies spend twice on ads as on R&D to drive up demand for the most expensive drugs.

Why don’t we have Universal Healthcare (“UH”) in this country, that we so desperately need (only 1 person clapped at this point, then 2 other jointed, half heartedly).

Edwards says that if we traded corporate supporting Republicans with corporate supporting Dems, nothing will change. The corps will not give power away….we have to take it away.

Look at Blackwater – it is lawless in Iraq.. He claims that it was because they gave hundreds of thousands to Bush and Cheney. It is the same with with (wait for it – I’ve been expecting that word!) Haliburton with no bid contracts

 

He mentions that global warming is a big crisis – lots of clapping this time – the power and oil corps are in the way and want things to remain the same. They will fight attempts to change the status quo as they have much to lose.

He related that he watch something on PBS on WW II and the American people. We went over and defeated Germans and then we went over and defeated Japan. We, as Americans, are just as good now as they were then. Twenty generations came before us – the promise is that their children would have it better than they did. That is the great moral test of our generation….we will but we have to be ready for this fight. Most of our problems would take care of themselves, tax and trade problems, if the people interest came first. BUT, corp profits come first. So we have to do something about it.

 

Lobbyists – he is against them.

He is very much for public financing for campaigns to get the money out of the process.

He is ready to take up the fight against the oil and drug companies…..big applause

Makes the claim that he has been fighting them all his life – 20 years in the courtroom…..and that he beat them over and over again.

2:57 Oops – the flag fell partially down.,….staffers now finally fixing it a couple minutes after the “stars” drooped down. Duct taped with string to the ceiling. Gotta love duct tape.

Curious – no John Edwards sign up front…..just signs that the staffers passed out before the event started. Funny – at no time did they ever get waved for the cameras – did the event attendees merely assume that they were souvenirs or did the staffers forget to tell them to wave them?

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Q&A Time

Warren Clark from Meredith – The lobbyist talk is great stuff but all the US Reps and Senators got into office only because they got money from the lobbyists…how will you do it?

The Bully Pulpit is the biggest weapon the President has. The President has to use to to make the public believe that the entire process is corrupt and only then will the politicians follow. Great American Presidents have always made their case to the public, convinced them of something, and then the Congress reacts to it in order to stay elected.

Menden <missed last name> from  Laconia <asked in a cranky way> – Universal Healthcare – when will you support single payer UH supported by our taxes and paid by the government?

His plan – gives every one a choice of private or public plan.  3-4% overhead in public delivered health care (up to 40% in private).  He wanders a bit, brings up a story of another person asking the same question – like they have in Canada!  A lady then said NOT like Canada. 

He’s not really answering the question and is wandering….he just wants everyone covered….even admits that he is not being clear

 

Boon Porter from Sandwich – What is your view on Pakistan, the most dangerous country facing America right now?

Problem – we have an unstable leader that has promised lots of reforms to his people but has not followed through on them, radicals are present, the Bomb, the on-going struggle with India over Kashmir, and state of emergency that was declared. Problem – say he’s deposed and the radicals take over. Lots of risk. Mentioned AQ Khan spreading that nuclear knowledge.

He believes that the US can stop world wide proliferation in an ad hoc way. Sooner or later, the info will spread.

Long term – we have to rid the world of nuclear weapons (but he doesn’t not say how!)

  • Pakistan – here are solutions that Edwards would solve the problem
  • The NW area of Pakistan is where AQ is – that has to be under control
  • Pakistan has to hold elections
  • We have to support the reformers
  • We have to make sure that their nukes are safe and not fall into the hands of those that shouldn’t have them

We’ve given about $10 billion to Pakistan and gotten little in return. We have to use the aid and reform the way that we are supplying it. We have little expertise in State Dept on Pakistan; it is frightening to see how little expertise the US has about Pakistan.

We have to join with a number of countries to deal with the Pakistanis and Mushareef diplomatically.

 

Michelle in <missed it> – Getting stability in Iraq is more than just withdrawing troops. What would you do to stabilize it?

There has to be compromise between Sunni and Shia. Now we may diverge – how to do it? Bush’s argument, which is ridiculous, is that we should continue to pour money and men in and things will just get better.

Edwards will pull 40 to 50K combat troops out now and then continue to pull combat troops out. Then start intensive diplomatic to get them (Sunni and Shia) to agree.

Now, we have to bring in Iranians and Syrians, which have been mostly ignored. Iran has a vested interest in keeping Iraq stable to keep from 1 million refugees from pouring in….ditto with Syria. Add in Turkey and other countries in the area as they all have a need to keep the region stable.

We probably need quick reaction forces to stay, so we will have to keep a presence in the region.

Afghanistan is getting worse as Taliban is getting reassembling and getting worse.

<I stopped to snap off a few pictures>

 

Bill Keatsmen from Plymouth. One of your main points is strengthening the middle class. Are you better off than you were – I don’t think so. He feels that he as been abused. How would you do so?

If you look at history in context – as it used to be before depression, there were very few real rich…after that, we had FDR and then a lot of people did well. Now we’ve gone back back to where the rich are getting richer faster and the middle class is struggling. Government is doing the bidding of the rich and corporations.

  • We need Universal Healthcare to drive down healthcare costs,
  • We need to get our kids to get to college. He mentioned his “College for everyone" idea which would have government pay for anyone going to college at a state college or community college if they just work 10 hours/ week That way, they will not amass that much debt.
  • There has to be tax relief, make it easier to save by matching it.
  • Mentioning subprime and the predators….mentions the 38 homes in a single area that were foreclosed on
  • (Note: he didn’t mention that they were in NO and did NOT mention his connection to the firm that did it &ndash
    ; Fortress). We have to go after the predators with new laws!
  • He would highly regulate Payday loans companies.

 

Help with everything it seems…it has to be shared prosperity.

He is not poor now, but talks about his Dad asking for $50 bucks to get his Mom and him home from the hospital to a two room house.

He says he has lived the American dream. He wants every kid to have that chance again. They won’t all be wildly successful but they ought to have the chance. But that ideal is withering in America.

 

Sharon Lawring (sp?) – she is making calls – the older folks are worried about Social Security. They want SS for their children too – what’s your plan?

He is against privatizing – biggest applause of the event. He is against raising the age or lowering benefits.

He wants to raise the cap on income, where the current cap is at $97K. Wall streeters should be paying their fair share.

(Note: I’ve not heard of this before – this idea from Edwards is kinda weird). He wants a tax buffer zone from between $97 – $200K; they would not pay any additional SS tax (basically, no change from today). Anyone over that $200K would then start paying the SS tax. He makes the observation that one is not wealthy at $100K

Note: I think he shocked the crowd – a very load zone.

Shouted from the audience (sounded kinda mad) – I don’t make close to $100K – why have the buffer zone – make it graduated! Edwards says that he’s not heard of that suggestion before (graduated during the buffer zone)

 

Q – cannot hear. long question or set up? Times when vets because of the nature, they couldn;’t meet the operational status for certain medals.

He will do something about that.

Q-fair trade

American trade has been a disaster. NAFTA, CAFTA! In ’93 – Dem Pres, Dem House, Dem Senate. UH got killed. Corps were for NAFTA….it costs the US millions of jobs. Simple answer why – corps wanted one and not the other. We need to make our democracy work for all of us.

 

 

More pix:

John Edwards 

 

John Edwards