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CBS "Early Show" - Transcript

Interview

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CBS "Early Show" - Transcript

MR. SMITH: Six Democratic candidates met yesterday for the final campaign debate before the Iowa caucuses. With three weeks to go, polls in Iowa show John Edwards is still within striking distance of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. A new Edwards campaign ad goes on the air this morning.

MR. EDWARDS: (From videotape.) I met a man named James Lowe who was born with a cleft palate. He had no voice for 50 years, because with no health care he couldn't get a simple operation -- 50 years with no voice in America. It is wrong. It is immoral.

MR. SMITH: John Edwards joins us from Davenport, Iowa.

Good morning, Senator.

MR. EDWARDS: Good morning, Harry.

MR. SMITH: Listen, you've been on this bus tour across Iowa the last couple of days. How's it going?

MR. EDWARDS: It's going great. We've got lots of energy, lots of enthusiasm. The debate that took place here in Iowa yesterday went very well. So we feel good about things.

MR. SMITH: Let me ask you this. You have two opponents who tend to grab a lot of the headlines there in Iowa, especially over the last maybe month or six weeks or so, yet your poll numbers stay steady, right in the 20s. Are people going to wake up the day after the caucuses with a little surprise?

MR. EDWARDS: Oh, I think there's a real chance of that. What's happened is I know the people in Iowa. They know me. The things that I'm talking about, which is restoring the democracy to the American people, taking some of the power away from these corporations and oil companies and gas companies and drug companies, which you just heard from this ad, and making these things work for the country and restoring the power to the American people, people are responding to that, and they want to see real change.

MR. SMITH: I spend way too much time watching the cables and C- SPAN and everything else. I've listened to your stump speech a lot. You talk about K Street and you talk about the lobbyists. There's so much anger and anxiety in the country about those very issues. Can you really wrestle the agenda back from K Street and give it back to the American people?

MR. EDWARDS: Yes -- not alone. I can do it with the American people, ensuring that we all do this together, making certain that we restore the power to the American people. I mean, I think we have a great moral test in this country, Harry, which is, are we going to do what our parents and grandparents and 20 generations did before us and make sure that we leave America better than we found it and that we leave our kids a better life? And I think that's what this great struggle is about. And I'm ready for this fight and I think the American people are ready for it.

MR. SMITH: All right. We've got some video of you on a sled from yesterday. And, you know, you can put a lot of metaphors on this. Either you're gaining momentum or you're going downhill. Which would you write for the lead line on your sledding video?

MR. EDWARDS: (Laughs.) We've gained speed and trying to stay alive. (Laughs.)

MR. SMITH: (Laughs.) This is the second time around for you. As you said, people in Iowa know you well. How is it different this time? And how do you sustain yourself? You know, in a lot of ways you're sort of against all odds here.

MR. EDWARDS: Yeah, but I think -- I believe deeply in what we're trying to do, what I'm trying to do with the country. I don't think this, Harry, is about politicians. I think it's about America and making America work for everybody.

It's a very personal thing for me, which is why I'm still so energized about what we're trying to do, because of the way I grew up, my father working in the mills, and my really deep belief system that everybody in this country deserves a real chance, which is why we have to take the power out of those who seem to be running the country today. I get up every morning excited about this.

Now, it's good that I've got Elizabeth with me and my kids with me. That always helps. But we're in this for the long haul.

MR. SMITH: How's Elizabeth doing?

MR. EDWARDS: She's doing great. She was with me at the debate yesterday. She's been out there speaking on the campaign trail. She's feeling good.

MR. SMITH: Yeah. Do you have to win? Do you have to come in first in January at the caucuses?

MR. EDWARDS: I think three of us -- me, Hillary, Barack -- are in a dead heat here. I think it's very important for all three of us. And we'll just have to see what happens.

MR. SMITH: Yeah. You'll do fine, presumably, in South Carolina. What do you need in New Hampshire?

MR. EDWARDS: Oh, I think all these states matter, Harry. I mean, you go from Iowa to New Hampshire just a few days later. You go to Nevada and South Carolina. I was born in South Carolina, won the primary there four years ago. I feel very good about my chances. I'm in a dead heat here in Iowa. I feel very strong in South Carolina, strong in New Hampshire. I think we've got a great chance. But the most important thing is to focus on what we want to do for the country instead of just talking about politicians and polls.

MR. SMITH: Got it. Real quickly, you got the Register's endorsement four years ago. How much do you need it this weekend?

MR. EDWARDS: Oh, I don't have any way of knowing what the Register will do. There are some good candidates, some good people there making the decision. I think the most important thing for me is to stay focused on what we want to do for the country and do my work here in Iowa.

MR. SMITH: Okay. Senator, thanks so much. Good luck to you.

MR. EDWARDS: Thanks, Harry.

MR. SMITH: All right. Take care.


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