John Edwards speech:
I wasn’t a John Edwards supporter, but today I feel a profound sense of sadness that he has made the choice to drop out of the race for the Democratic nomination.
His decision had to be tough for his entire family and I know Edwards supporters are deeply saddened. From the bottom of my heart, I wish the Edwards family well and thank them all for their dedication to our country.
Upon Edwards’ withdrawal, the race between Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) and Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.) becomes historic, guaranteeing that a major party will nominate someone other than a white man for the nation’s highest office. They will debate each other head-to-head for the first time on Thursday in California.
Edwards decision, makes perfect sense, of course, given his poor performance at the polls, but his departure from the race leaves a sense of void, for Edwards primary issue throughout his campaign has been the great and noble issue of lifting Americans out of poverty, indeed his “populist, antipoverty message” was the “centerpiece of his campaign.” At a time when others might have preferred to slip from the limelight, today following his announcement John Edwards “took part in a Habitat for Humanity event,” in New Orleans, where he first announced his candidacy.
John Edwards, in my opinion, raised the debate, he shaped the policy of the two front-runners and he championed the people that often feel as though no one is listening.
I felt so many times in recent weeks that John Edwards had come so far, grown so much since he first began his quest for the presidency in 2003. As an only parent, who had felt for years that I was one of the voices that is often unheard (before taking to the blogosphere to voice my opinions), I thank John Edwards for his determination to shine a light on those who struggle in America.
Edwards has no plans at this time “to weigh in for either candidate in the immediate future, according to aides.”
“It’s time for me to step aside so that history can blaze its path,” Edwards said to a small crowd of supporters and reporters.
Edwards spoke in person to both Obama and Clinton yesterday and informed both candidates he was considering leaving the race. Sources familiar with those conversations insist Edwards did not asked for any sort of quid pro quo in exchange for an endorsement but rather asked Clinton and Obama to promise him to keep the focus on the issue of poverty as the campaign moved forward.
Today Edwards said that the two remaining front-runners “both pledged to me and through me to America that they will make ending poverty central to their campaign for the presidency.”
Hillary Clinton weighed in on John Edwards decision today, saying:
John Edwards ended his campaign today in the same way he started it – by standing with the people who are too often left behind and nearly always left out of our national debate.
John ran with compassion and conviction and lifted this campaign with his deep concern for the daily lives of the American people. That is what this election is about – it’s about our people. And John is one of the greatest champions the American people could ask for.
I wish John and Elizabeth all the best. They have my great personal respect and gratitude. And I know they will continue to fight passionately for the country and the people they love so deeply.
And Barack Obama offered a similar heartfelt statement:
John Edwards has spent a lifetime fighting to give voice to the voiceless and hope to the struggling, even when it wasn’t popular to do or covered in the news. At a time when our politics is too focused on who’s up and who’s down, he made a nation focus again on who matters – the New Orleans child without a home, the West Virginia miner without a job, the families who live in that other America that is not seen or heard or talked about by our leaders in Washington. John and Elizabeth Edwards have always believed deeply that we can change this – that two Americas can become one, and that our country can rally around this common purpose. So while his campaign may end today, the cause of their lives endures for all of us who still believe that we can achieve that dream of one America.
Around the blogosphere, bloggers left and right are weighing in with opinions that range from sadness to condescending tripe, to who gets the Edwards supporters regardless of his decision not to endorse at this time. Among the many chiming in: Melissa at Shakesville; Susie at Suburban Guerrilla; Kevin at American Street; Skippy; Gun Toting Liberal; The Crone Speaks; Ed at Captain’s Quarters; and Edward Copeland at The Reaction.