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NPR "All Things Considered" - Transcript

Interview

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NPR "All Things Considered" - Transcript

MS. NORRIS: I sat down with John Edwards to talk about his campaign and the impact of race surfacing just as the Democratic contest heads south.

MR. EDWARDS: I grew up in first a segregated South and grew up in the midst of the civil rights movement. I lived in South Carolina, then Georgia and North Carolina. So everything from Selma to the Orangeburg massacre to the four young men walking into a luncheon counter -- Woolworth luncheon counter in Greensboro, North Carolina -- all of that was going on around me as I was growing up.

And you have to be really thoughtful about issues of race, because I grew up with an awful lot of code words that were used and efforts were made to stir up race -- some cases for political motives, in some cases just driven by hatred.

MS. NORRIS: Is that what we're seeing here, though -- an effort in some ways to stir up racial politics?

MR. EDWARDS: It's hard for me to know, to be perfectly honest. I don't know the answer to that. Sometimes stirring it up is unintentional. It's not the intended result, but it is the result. And I think any stirring up of this issue -- whether it's intentional or unintentional -- is unfortunate and not healthy. I think what we want to do is move forward.

MS. NORRIS: Now, this is -- coming back to South Carolina is like coming home for you. We talked to people at this last event who see you as a son of South Carolina. What is at stake for you here in this state?

MR. EDWARDS: Well, it's important for me to do well. I think it's important for the other two to do well, too, but --

MS. NORRIS: What's at stake for you?

MR. EDWARDS: For me I just need to -- if I make certain that voters here know that I'm fighting for the middle class, and to lift up low-income families, and am against monied interests, they'll respond. And I think that these people know me, they trust me.

MS. NORRIS: What is your strategy coming out of South Carolina? You've said that you're in it to win it. You plan to stay in this through February 5th and beyond. So what's your strategy coming out of South Carolina?

MR. EDWARDS: Well, after South Carolina we'll go to the February 5th states. Later this week I'm making a February 5th fly around to a number of February 5th states. See -- and at that point, it really is -- it's going to happen fast and furiously.

I think what's different, though, about this race that voters will begin to see is we have three serious candidates, all of whom are taking a significant part of the vote, and I strongly suspect — unless I don't know something about the other two that I should know — that everyone's in this for the long haul. See, I would expect this to go on for a long time.

MS. NORRIS: It seems like you could be a candidate, or almost a kingmaker right now, if you were willing to think about cutting deals, if you were willing to give signals to some of your supporters.

MR. EDWARDS: Well, my job right now is to run for president on the causes that I believe in. That's what drives me every day, it's the reason I get up every day, and that's what I'm going to continue to do.

MS. NORRIS: Is it possible that we could see a brokered convention?

MR. EDWARDS: I have no idea.

MS. NORRIS: Have you been studying those rules?

MR. EDWARDS: (Laughs.) Not like I should, probably. I think anything's possible, honestly. I think you -- I would fully expect to see over the next several months a lot of ups and downs. I think we've got a long way to go.

MS. NORRIS: Last question I just want to ask you -- it's based on someone I met at the rally just now at Myrtle Beach High School. I met a gentleman named Nick Januzzi and he was there. He had two Edwards buttons on. He was holding an Edwards sign. He is fully committed to your candidacy, but he said at some point we need more than just a runner-up finish. We've got to see him actually win one of these races.

If that doesn't happen in Nevada, if that doesn't happen in South Carolina, but you're committed to stay in the race, what is the model for that? Who do you look to that's actually run this kind of unconventional campaign?

MR. EDWARDS: I think we've had them in the past and I think there were circumstances where they could've been successful. I think it depends on the kind of candidate -- all three candidates in this case, because I think all of us are going to be tested and we're going to be looked at very hard. And I think the honest likelihood is anytime somebody pops up, they're going to be critically evaluated. And people then are going to look hard at the other one or other two candidates that are still in the race. We've got a long way to go.

MS. NORRIS: So what is your -- in order for you, if you don't take a strong finish in these races that are just ahead of us --

MR. EDWARDS: You mean in Nevada and South Carolina?

MS. NORRIS: -- Nevada and South Carolina, how do you remain viable?

MR. EDWARDS: Oh, you just keep going, because the difference -- right now part of it is that we're accumulating delegates. The difference between the three of us on delegates is miniscule. And it's the delegates that win you the nomination. So --

MS. NORRIS: So you're saying we're focused on the wrong thing -- we're too focused on a vote count?

MR. EDWARDS: Yeah, and it's going to last a long time. I mean, as of New Hampshire, I think less than half of 1 percent of voters in America have voted. Ninety-nine percent of voices have not been heard. I mean, I said this earlier: I intend to make sure their voices are heard.

MS. NORRIS: Now, I'm not going to bother to ask you the vice presidential question, because you seem to be asked it over and over again.

MR. EDWARDS: Thank you.

MS. NORRIS: I assume that --

MR. EDWARDS: I'm not going to be vice president.

MS. NORRIS: Okay. So I didn't have to ask. You just told me.

MR. EDWARDS: (Laughs.) I could tell you that very simply.

MS. NORRIS: Senator Edwards, thank you very much.

MR. EDWARDS: Thanks, Michele.


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