EDWARDS ON POVERTY, IMMIGRATION, THE WAR AT SEIU. A key distinction emerges between John Edwards and Hillary Clinton; Hillary discussed the history of labor in terms of the creation of the middle class, Edwards portrays it as a fight against poverty: "The greatest anti-poverty movement in American history is the organized labor movement." This is typical of the different ways in which these two candidates talk about inequality.

Edwards goes a step further than Clinton and Obama's vague complaints about the "outdated" minimum wage and gives a specific numeric goal for a raise: $9.50. Moving onto a national law against predatory lending and the need for Congress to stop funding the war in Iraq, Edwards is approaching Obama-level enthusiasm from the crowd, which is standing and chanting his name. I like this new line on immigration: "I do not want to live in a United States of America made up of first class citizens and second class workers."

Edwards draws to a close by declaring that despite his wife's ill health, "This is the cause of my life. ... It's clear what I'm going to do. The question is, what are you going to do?" He says he feels the energy of the Civil Rights movement in the movement to end the Iraq war. "Brothers and sisters, like Dr. King, I can see the promised land, it's there, it's right in front of us, the question is, will we have the courage to go in step there? Will we lead? The only thing I ask all of you is to trust your heart. You know what to do!"

Edwards asks again, "Do you believe?" and the audience jumps up screaming and clapping and cheering. They are with him as he intones "God bless you all," and blows them a kiss.

--Dana Goldstein

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