In news that will make Neil the Werewolf happy, there are signs that John Edwards is laying the groundwork, as they say, for a 2008 run for president.
Edwards works on possible bid in 2008There is much I like about Edwards; I especially appreciate his unabashedly populist approach to politics.
-He is traveling the country, trying to rally college students to the cause of fighting poverty in the U.S.
-He is presiding over a new poverty center at the University of North Carolina.
-He is laying the groundwork for a possible return to the political spotlight as a presidential candidate in 2008.
A little bit of all three was on his mind when he made a stop at Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government.
"I'm in a very forward-looking, positive state of mind," said Edwards, while hundreds of students began to assemble in a nearby common. "I mean, being able to take on a big cause in a really serious way is an extraordinary thing."
Edwards is focused on poverty, a theme that emerged from his childhood as a son of a mill worker. It was the basis for his stump speech about the "two Americas" he saw emerging as the wealthy pulled away from the less fortunate.
"When I saw up close what was happening to them, honestly I remember thinking to myself, man, given my personal background, without a little luck, I could be in the same place a lot of these people are," Edwards said.
Hurricane Katrina, he believes, opened the rest of the country's eyes to the plight of the hidden poor in places such as Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.
"The hard question is will that window of opportunity stay open or will it close?" Edwards said. "I think whether it stays open depends on whether we have people like these college students who take it on as a cause."
Altruism aside, the poverty work also provides Edwards a platform to maintain his political viability.
He spoke this year at the annual steak fry organized by Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin in first caucus state Iowa.
Also, Edwards has avoided making the pledge that Sen. Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., made after he and presidential nominee Al Gore lost the 2000 race to Republicans George W. Bush and Dick Cheney: Edwards refuses to declare that he will forgo his own White House bid in 2008 if Kerry decides to run again.
His response to the Iraq war remains an issue, though. Edwards voted with the majority (and with fellow presidential possibilities John Kerry and Hillary Clinton) to give Bush the authority to invade. This is bad enough, but wouldn't be as much of a problem if he would come out against the war now, and in no uncertain terms, or admit that he regretted his vote, as Kerry did recently. But to my knowledge, he hasn't done these things.
Of course, Iraq could cease to be an issue by 2008, though that wouldn't be my prediction. If the war is still going on, though, I imagine any candidate who's not unambiguously opposed to it will have a tough time in the primaries (which is not to say they couldn't still prevail).