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NBC "Today"- Transcript

Interview

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DAVID GREGORY: Now another installment of our series, "Candidate Cribs," where presidential hopefuls visit a place important to them.

Democratic candidate John Edwards is incredibly rich, but he says he is driven by what he learned when he grew up dirt-poor. This morning he takes NBC's Jonathan Alter back to his roots.

(Begin videotaped segment.)

MR. ALTER: John Edwards --

MR. EDWARDS: If you come from a place like this, then you understand what it's like to fight and to struggle.

MR. ALTER: He was raised and still lives in North Carolina, but he spent his earlier years moving around South Carolina, at first in this two-room house on a dead-end street in Seneca.

WALLACE EDWARDS (John Edwards' father): It was hard. You know, we thought $10 a week was a lot of money for groceries.

MR. ALTER: Edwards' parents -- Wallace, a mill worker, and Bobbie -- could barely afford to pay the bill to bring baby John home from the hospital.

WALLACE EDWARDS: Went downtown to a loan company and borrowed $50.

MR. ALTER: Edwards grew up to be a multi-millionaire lawyer who lives in this 28,000-square-foot house and gets expensive haircuts. But he says this is the important part of his personal story.

MR. EDWARDS: You had to take care of yourself. It was a rough -- as you would expect, a rough neighborhood, these mill villages. My father from a very young age taught me to fight. He said, "Never start a fight, but never walk away from one."

MR. ALTER: Tell me something about how you view class in America.

MR. EDWARDS: We shouldn't be against people being successful. We love people being successful. That's wonderful. It's part of what makes America great. But we want more people to have that chance.

MR. ALTER: And Edwards believes this country's health care system makes having that chance harder. This spring his wife Elizabeth suffered a recurrence of breast cancer.

MR. EDWARDS: Just imagine what it's like for some woman who's a single mom and she gets diagnosed with the same thing Elizabeth's got and she has no health care coverage. What a nightmare that's got to be.

MR. ALTER: John Edwards is determined to be the presidential candidate who remembers where he came from.


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