NORTH CAROLINA'S FAVORITE SON, JOHN EDWARDS, AND THE DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL TICKET -- (House of Representatives - July 12, 2004)
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Mr. PALLONE. Madam Speaker, I want to thank the gentleman from North Carolina for yielding to me. And I noticed I guess I am the only Northerner here tonight. Everyone else has been either from South Carolina or North Carolina.
But I have to say when I listened to the other side of the aisle, to the Republicans this evening, criticize our candidates for president and vice president, I could not help but come down here and say a few words, because I have watched both of these Senators who are now our presidential and vice presidential candidates on the Democratic side, and I have been very impressed with them.
I really resented, I do not like to use the word, but I resented the fact that our Republican colleagues used all these lables, liberal versus conservative, rich versus poor, because I know when I listen to Senator Edwards and Senator Kerry, they are not looking at things that way, whether somebody is rich, or what somebody's ideology is. They are just looking at it practically. And I have watched what they said.
I particularly want to pay notice of Senator Edwards tonight, because he is the newest person on the ticket and he is always looking at things from a practical point of view. The reason that he advocates change in the White House, and the reason I advocate change, and I think all of us do, is because we just do not like the practical impact of the policies of President Bush and Vice President Cheney, particularly as it affects the little guy. Because when I listen to Senator Edwards, he is always talking about the little guy.
If you look at what happened over the last 4 years under President Bush and Vice President Cheney, it is the middle-
class, it is the little guy that has been hurt, whether it is gas prices or it is healthcare costs or it is education costs, or the
fact that over the last 4 years we have had a loss of over 2 million jobs and the jobs that are now being created are not
as good as the ones lost. This is what our Democratic candidates are all about.
The ultimate irony, I have to comment a little bit on some of the comments made about Senator Edwards being wealthy. He is wealthy, there is no question about that. But here is a guy who grew up in a small town, it has already been described, born in a small town in South Carolina, raised in a small town in North Carolina, from a very modest family. I have a little bit of his biography here.
His father Wallace worked in the textile mills for 36 years. His mother Bobbie ran a shop and worked at the post office. He worked alongside his father in the mill. He was the first person in his family to attend college.
This is a self-made man. This is a guy who went to a state university, North Carolina State University, graduated as undergraduate, then went for his law degree, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, a very good school, but also a public state university. He is self-made.
This is the very thing the Republicans keep talking about. They always use the example of Abe Lincoln, born in a log cabin and became president of the United States. Well, this is what we have here. This is not some guy who was born wealthy and was given everything. He had to work for it. That is what it is all about.
Then when I listened to some of these statements about the fact that he was a trial lawyer and how bad that was, well,
you know, let us not put labels on people. I am sure there are some trial lawyers that are bad, but there are a lot of trial
lawyers that are good. It depends on what you do.
The fact of the matter is that when I listened to, I think it was the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Burgess), who is a
physician from Texas, a Republican, who got up and started criticizing EDWARDS because he was a trial lawyer, am I
to assume that everybody who is a physician is good and everybody who is a lawyer is bad? Is that what we have come
to now, this sort of divisive element in looking at things? Well, it is just ridiculous.
If you look at EDWARDS' background, he was always fighting for the little guy. I just want to give you a couple of
these cases, because I heard the gentleman from Texas, the Republican, talk about what is fair. Well, it is not fair if
there are people who are injured and they do not have some way to redress their grievances.
This is an example. This is a very good example. I wanted to use one of the cases that EDWARDS tried. It is Jennifer
Campbell, who suffered severe brain damage because of a doctor's mistake and the hospital's complacency.
EDWARDS represented Jennifer Campbell, who was born in April of 1979 with severe brain damage because of
medical malpractice on the part of her mother's doctor and hospital. Despite the clear signs of fetal distress during
labor, the doctor failed to deliver the baby by C-section and the hospital's nurses failed to help Jennifer by reporting the
doctor's conduct up through the hospital's chain of command.
Now, am I to assume that in that case the doctor did the right thing and the doctor was the good guy, and the lawyer, in
this case John Edwards, who defended Jennifer Campbell who suffered from severe brain damage should not have had
somebody to try her case, her malpractice case?
I am all in favor of malpractice reform. I do not see any problem. I have even voted for a cap on tort cases in some instances. But I am not going to suggest that it is not a good thing for a trial lawyer to take a case like that, where somebody has been severely injured.
Another case, I will give one more, this was a Methodist minister. Greg Howard and Jane Howard were killed in an
auto wreck with a truck, left behind an orphan five-year-old son. EDWARDS represented Golda Howard, who lost her
son Gregory in a car wreck with a truck.
The truck driver was driving too fast and following the car in front of him too closely, and when the car in front of him
braked, he swerved across the center line into Greg Howard's 1984 Honda civic head-on. Both Gregory Howard, a 31-
year-old minister and Methodist camp director, and his wife were killed. They were survived by their 5-year-old son
Joshua, who was not in the car. They are not supposed to be defended in this case?
Clearly there is no question that EDWARDS is someone who has cared about the little guy, and he saw being a trial
lawyer as a way to give back and effectively represent people who had been seriously injured. These are not frivolous
suits. That is not what we are talking about here.
I just want to give one more example, because I know the time has basically run out. I think it was my colleague the
gentleman from North Carolina
(Mr. Price), or maybe it was the gentleman from North Carolina (Mr. Miller), who mentioned EDWARDS' passion on
the issue of Patients' Bill of Rights.
I remember, because you have been to some of our Health Care Task Force meetings that I chaired in the last few Congresses, and one day we invited Senator Edwards to come over to from the Senate and talk to our Health Care Task Force about the Patients' Bill of Rights, because it was something we were trying to get passed on the floor of this House.
He came over and was one of the best presenters and speakers that we ever had. I had never even met him before. This was a few years ago. I was so impressed about his passion and caring about patients and how they had to have their rights protected.
This is something that we still need. If a case arrives where an HMO says that a person is going to be denied care
because they cannot have a particular procedure or cannot go to an particular emergency room because they need care,
that is what this is all about in this House, representing the little guy, the person who is damaged, the person who needs
He was a guy who came to our Health Care Task Force and talked with passion about how we had to get this bill
passed. And we still need to get this bill passed.
It is somebody like him, as vice president, joining with John Kerry as the president, that we can get something like that
passed, because you know that President Bush and Vice President Cheney have been very much against the Patients'
Bill of Rights. They went to the Supreme Court and got the Supreme Court to basically void the Texas Patients' Bill of
So we need leadership. We need leadership in the White House. We need leadership at the vice presidential level as
well, if we are going to see patients protected. That is what this is all about.
I am just so proud to be here tonight to say how proud I am that we have this great ticket that includes a North
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