Democratic Vice Presidential candidate John Edwards spoke to a large and energetic crowd at the Haverford Field House yesterday. Throughout his speech and responses to audience questions he emphasized the Kerry-Edwards ticket’s focus on health care costs (the nominal focus of the event), the importance of world-wide alliances and the claim that the Bush Administration is distanced from reality.
Edwards was preceded by a small stampede of local and state-wide Democratic candidates, including Swarthmore’s congressional candidate, Paul Scoles, Attorney General candidate Jim Eisenhower and senatorial candidate Jim Hoeffel. As the audience waited for Edwards to arrive, a short dance party erupted to such campaign classics such as “Love Train,” and “Hey Ya!”
Edwards was introduced by Jill Fenton, a Republican war veteran supporting the Kerry-Edwards ticket. Edwards was greeted by an enormous ovation and first condemned Bush’s speech in New Jersey that morning as “resorting to politics of fear,” and that “the last two people who think things are going well in Iraq are George Bush and Dick Cheney.”
On homeland security, Edwards emphasized that the Bush ticket has not done enough, mentioning insufficient inspection of plane, train and ship cargo; lax security at chemical plants; inadequate intelligence translators; and the lack of a unified terrorist watch list. “This isn’t leadership. This is incompetence,” he said. His proposals included increased inspections, intelligence reform implementing all of the 9/11 Commission’s recommendations, and a decrease in pork barrel spending.
On the national security front, Edwards discussed the current instability in Iraq and perceived weaknesses in the army and perceptions of America abroad. He proposed to increase the army by 40,000 soldiers and “unite nations to win the war on terror.” He also said that “John Kerry will not be diverted from Osama bin Laden,” and that a Kerry administration would work to secure loose nukes and close loopholes in nuclear non-proliferation treaties. “Everyone will be more secure in a world where America is more respected,” he said.
Edwards described the Bush administration’s approach on health care as “Don’t get sick.” He promised to curb rising health care costs, fix Medicare and make good insurance benefits available to all without the creation of additional government programs. He described the Bush administration as being consistently on the side of big drug companies and insurance agencies and that he “can’t be with [these industries] and still be with you,” He also mentioned that a Kerry administration would fund stem cell research. Audience questions focused on health care.
“This is the most important election of our lifetimes. The American Dream is on the ballot,” Edwards said. The crowd seemed to agree.