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CBS "Early Show" - Transcript

Interview

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CBS "Early Show" - Transcript

MR. SMITH: Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards is getting ready to sprint to the finish in Iowa, where he's in a dead heat with Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. Starting tomorrow, he's going to campaign for 36 hours straight.

Joining us now from Storm Lake, Iowa is John Edwards.

Good morning, Senator.

MR. EDWARDS: Good morning, Harry.

MR. SMITH: How are you doing this morning?

MR. EDWARDS: I'm doing great. How are you doing?

MR. SMITH: (Laughs.) I'm doing okay. This finish line is almost in sight, at least as far as Iowa is concerned. The last couple of times we talked, when we spoke face to face out in Iowa and the last time we talked on satellite, one of the things you've made very, very clear is that you do not and will not take any special- interest money. Is that correct?

MR. EDWARDS: That is correct. I've never taken any money from a Washington lobbyist or from a special-interest PAC. In fact, I've made a commitment just in the last couple of days that in my White House I will not allow corporate lobbyists to work.

MR. SMITH: Okay. Well, what exactly is the Alliance for a New America? They're a big supporter of yours.

MR. EDWARDS: Well, what's happened, Harry -- and this happens in every presidential race -- is the leading Democratic candidates, and I suspect the Republican candidates, have some independent groups out there that we don't have any control over who provide support.

And what I can control -- and I think that's happening with other candidates too -- I think what I can support -- what I can control is not taking money from lobbyists, not taking money from PACs, which I've never done.

MR. SMITH: Isn't it -- hang on a second. Now, isn't that a little disingenuous? You can't control that? If you called those guys up today and said, "Stop your ads; stop raising hundreds of thousands of dollars in my behalf," they wouldn't just turn off the spigot?

MR. EDWARDS: I have said multiple times publicly to stop. I've told them to stop. We are not allowed legally to coordinate with them. I think these 527s -- the answer to this, Harry, is for these 527s to be banned as a matter of law, and we ought to be publicly financing our campaigns. We shouldn't even be having this discussion.

MR. SMITH: Well --

MR. EDWARDS: Well, I have called on them publicly to stop. I pointed out earlier other candidates have similar groups who are doing similar things for them. None of us can have control over that. But the things that we do have control over, I have acted. That's what I'm saying about lobbyists and PACs.

MR. SMITH: But here's what I don't understand, though, because this Alliance for a New America, isn't it run by a former campaign operative of yours?

MR. EDWARDS: It's my understanding that the guy who runs their organization worked for me years ago. Yes, that is true.

MR. SMITH: Right. And the money -- where a lot of the money is coming from is coming from the estate of a 97-year-old woman -- hundreds of thousands of dollars. How can you now repudiate this and disassociate yourself and say -- you need to call these people on the phone and say, "I don't take special-interest money." It's pouring your way. The ads are running, hundreds of thousands of dollars' worth on the airwaves in Iowa right now.

MR. EDWARDS: Well, first of all, Harry, it's important to recognize that the ads that are running are not negative about anybody. They're just positive ads. Secondly, I have done exactly what you just said. I have said, "No 527s. Stop running the ads. I don't want anything to do with this." I can't stop these people; 527s are independent groups. The other candidates have exactly the same problem. This is not special to me.

MR. SMITH: Right.

MR. EDWARDS: They have groups who are doing the same thing. But what is different about us is I have, for 10 years in public life, never taken any money from a Washington lobbyist or a PAC, and I have stood by that and made it clear that no corporate lobbyist is going to work in my White House, which no other candidate has done.

MR. SMITH: Right. You've got 36 hours to go here; one in five voters out in Iowa still undecided. What's your closing argument?

MR. EDWARDS: Oh, my closing argument is that corporate greed is destroying the middle class in this country. We're losing jobs. We could lose as many as 30 million-plus jobs in the next decade if we don't change course. And a lot of those people whose jobs are at risk are actually college graduates.

And so we have to have a president of the United States who's willing to fight this corporate greed to make sure that the promise of this country is available to all our children like it has been for us. And it includes jobs. It includes health care. But this is a fight that I'm ready for.

MR. SMITH: All right. You have 36 hours to go. We have asked this question a million times before. Do you have to win in Iowa or at least be within a couple of percentage points to really be able to move on?

MR. EDWARDS: Harry, the thing that's clear here is we have huge energy and momentum. What I have to do is make sure that Iowa caucus- goers, New Hampshire voters, know what I want to do as president. And what it is I want to do is strengthen the middle class, stand up for American jobs, and fight for the future of their children. They know that. And if they know that, we're going to do well here.

MR. SMITH: Senator Edwards, thank you very, very much for your time this morning. We'll see you soon.

MR. EDWARDS: Thanks, Harry.

MR. SMITH: All right, appreciate it.


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