From NBC/NJ's Tricia Miller
COLUMBIA, SC – As the lone white male candidate speaking, Edwards could have struggled at the NAACP's MLK Day rally. Instead, following Obama, he told the throng that he was proud of his competitors and referred to a speech he gave in Harlem almost exactly a year ago.
At that time, Edwards addressed Riverside Church, behind the same podium where Martin Luther King, Jr. had called for an end to the Vietnam War four decades earlier. The former North Carolina senator used that opportunity to call on Congress to pull troops out of Iraq.
Today, Edwards again delivered King's famous line. "[King] said there comes a time in all our lives where if we stand quiet, if we stand silent, when our conscience tells us to speak, that our silence is a betrayal. It is a betrayal of ourselves, it is a betrayal of our country that we love so much," Edwards said.
"Brothers and sisters, we can no longer stand silent. We have to speak out, and we must speak out together, as Barack said, in unity with one voice, and it is time for us to not remain silent about this war in Iraq. It is time for us to bring our men and women home from Iraq," he said to cheers from a crowd carrying almost exclusively signs bearing the names of his rivals.
In the rest of his nine-minute address, Edwards went on to talk briefly about poverty, the minimum wage, predatory lending, education, and universal health-care coverage. The rally was Edwards' first public appearance of the day, as he did not participate in the preceding prayer service and march to the capitol. And he will spend the rest of the day preparing for tonight's CNN/Congressional Black Caucus debate in Myrtle Beach.