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Edwards paints himself as a fighter

From NBC/NJ's Tricia Miller
BOONE, IA -- Emphasizing his theme as a fighter for the common American, Edwards used some variation of the word "fight" nearly 40 times at a town hall at the Giggling Goat Cafe here this afternoon.

In his stump speech, he uttered the words "fight," "fighting" or "fought" 31 times; in the Q&A session and his closing, he used them an additional eight times. In contrast, Edwards said "change" or "changes" six times in the stump speech and four times in the second half of the town hall.

A perfect example came about 12 minutes into the stump speech, when Edwards told the story of how his father taught him never to back down from a fight. "Where I grew up, you had to fight to survive. You did," he said. "I still remember when I was young coming home -- had gotten in a fight with an older kid and got my butt kicked. Came home, told my, you know, I was beaten up a little bit, said something to my father and he set me down and he said, 'I don't want to ever hear you starting a fight.' I said, 'Yes, sir.' And he said, 'But I want you to hear me and hear me clearly: You never ever walk away from a fight, because if you're not willing to stand up for yourself no one will stand up for you.'"

The words highlight the difference between Edwards and Obama, as the two argue over which one will be the more effective change agent.