From NBC's Lauren Appelbaum
With former President Jimmy Carter by his side, Edwards visited Georgia Southwestern State University to discuss his vision for America and his plans to build One America. Edwards began his speech with an attack on Bush's request for more money to fund the surge in Iraq. Using his fingers to make quote marks while saying the word "surge," Edwards dismissed the idea as a good plan.
"The Congress will be coming back next week, and I think the American people have seen enough excuses," Edwards said. "They don't want excuses anymore. They want to see this war come to an end. They want to see it brought to an end. What the Congress should do when they come back next week is make it absolutely clear, no timetable, no funding. And there should be no further excuses. The Congress needs to stand their ground. They had a mandate from the American people in the election in November in 2006 and they need to meet that mandate."
Invoking the second anniversary of Katrina, Edwards said another surge in Baghdad is not what America needs. "We need a surge in New Orleans."
Edwards also attacked Hillary Clinton once again on the lobbying issue. "That system has to change," Edwards said. "I don't think anybody should defend that system, whether it is Senator Clinton or anybody else. I think the system needs to be changed. There is nobody in this audience who thinks the way Washington works today is working for them. I am absolutely certain about that."
On poverty, Edwards lamented that the economic growth over the last five years has only benefited the richest Americans. In combating poverty, Edwards called for (1) truly universal health care; (2) a higher raise in the minimum wage; (3) an expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit and removal of its marriage penalty; (4) the strengthening of workers' rights to organize unions in work places; and (5) strong national predatory lending laws. All of these items clearly cost money, and Edwards proposed paying for health care specifically by cutting Bush's tax cuts. He did mention how he would pay for the other changes.
Edwards borrowed a line from his wife Elizabeth regarding his stance on healthcare. "If you are shopping for a presidential candidate and they come before you and they tell you they have a health care plan and you find out that health care plan is not universal, then you should make them explain to you what man, and what woman, and what child in America is not worthy of healthcare?" He furthered the sentiment, stating if a candidate isn't for truly universal health care, the voter "ought to be looking for another candidate."
On a different note, Edwards took an aggressive stance on nuclear weapons in Iran and Pakistan. "I want to be the President of the United States that initiates and leads an effort, over time, but an effort to actually rid the planet of nuclear weapons ... America will have to lead the way and I'm not short sighted about this. I don't think it can be done overnight. I know it will take time, it will take leadership, and it will take cooperation from other countries."
Carter, an alumnus of GSW, told the audience Edwards is a "candidate whom I really admire." While he did not officially endorse Edwards, he came pretty close with his bold prediction that the presidential hopeful "has a very good chance to do well."
"I can say without equivocation," Carter said, "that no one who is running for president has presented anywhere near as comprehensive and accurate a prediction of what our country ought to do in the field of environmental quality, in the field of healthcare for those who are not presently insured, for those who suffer from poverty and with a special attention to a subject he knows quite well, and that is the rural areas of America."