NBC "Today" - Transcript
MR. LAUER: Former Senator John Edwards is in Storm Lake, Iowa this morning.
Senator, good to see you. Good morning.
MR. EDWARDS: Good morning, Matt.
MR. LAUER: So you must like the news of this new poll that has you edging into the lead in Iowa, although a statistical dead heat as well. Do you have any internal polling that shows anything different?
MR. EDWARDS: No. No, everything's very encouraging. I think more important than the polling, Matt, is the enormous amount of energy and momentum in the events that we do here -- overflow crowds; people can't get in. There's a lot of excitement and energy; hundreds of people signing up for the campaign every single night. No, clearly good things are happening, and there's a lot of energy and momentum here in Iowa.
MR. LAUER: In what many people called your closing arguments before the people of Iowa, you said, and I'm quoting here, "Everything that makes America America is threatened today. The very things that make the promise of equal opportunity possible are at risk -- good jobs, a strong middle class, each generation doing its part to make certain that we give our children a better life."
So congratulations. You've won the presidency. It's your first week in office. Give me two basic and important things you would do to get America back to being America.
MR. EDWARDS: I'd start ending the war in Iraq, number one. And number two, I would start pushing universal health care for America. Those are the two biggest priorities. There are many other things that need to be done, but if I had to pick two, that's what they'd be.
MR. LAUER: Let's talk about special interests. You said in 10 years in public life, you haven't taken any money from lobbyists or special-interest political action committees. And your critics say that you're playing a semantics game; that one of your biggest supporters, a guy named Scott Tyre, is basically a lobbyist who lives in a state where there are loopholes where he doesn't have to state that he's a lobbyist. How do you respond to that?
MR. EDWARDS: Oh, I respond very strongly to that, Matt. I am the one candidate in this race who, in my entire time in public life, have never taken a dime from a Washington lobbyist, never taken a dime from a special-interest PAC. I've called on the Democratic Party to disavow this money, which others have not done.
I think we ought to make it clear we're the party of the people. We're not the party of these insiders and these special interests. And I've even gone another step and said, in my White House, corporate lobbyists who've lobbied against the interests of the middle class and jobs and working people will not be allowed to work in my White House.
MR. LAUER: Right. But this guy, Scott Tyre --
MR. EDWARDS: I'm not just talking the talk. I'm walking the walk.
MR. LAUER: But this guy, Scott Tyre, who is a big fund-raiser for you and lives in Wisconsin, has a company. It's called Capital Navigators. On its own website, it describes itself as, quote, "a full-service public affairs firm delivering the very best in lobbying and grassroots services at the state and federal levels."
MR. EDWARDS: Well, my answer to this is, every single person who makes a contribution to my campaign is vetted, checked, against the federal lobbyist list. You have to register to be a federal lobbyist. Other people don't do this. I've done it for now almost 10 years in public life. If the money came from a federal lobbyist, the money goes back, period. And I've said that the Democratic Party ought to disavow this money, and I'm not going to have these people working in my White House.
MR. LAUER: And real, real quick --
MR. EDWARDS: I mean, I have been as clear and strong as I could be.
MR. LAUER: Real, real quickly, to the pundits, who all along say if you don't win Iowa, your campaign is in serious trouble, what's your response?
MR. EDWARDS: Oh, my response is we have great energy and momentum here in Iowa. And this message of saving the middle class and jobs in America by standing up to corporate greed, making this promise of America available to our children, will resonate every single place in America.
MR. LAUER: Senator John Edwards, always very generous with your time. Good luck to you on Thursday, Senator.
MR. EDWARDS: Thank you so much, Matt.