John Edwards ended his campaign this afternoon at the same place he started it and with the same theme-ending poverty as a moral imperative. In the Ninth Ward of New Orleans, Edwards said that he was stepping aside in this presidential campaign, but that he would now continue his life-long work for economic justice. Before announcing his decision, he called both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton to ask for a pledge to make ending poverty central to their campaigns for president and to their presidencies if they are elected.
John Edwards has changed the shape and the agenda of this campaign. He has put the needs of the poor and working families on the political agenda for the first time in many years. His clear and consistent voice has made sure that universal health care, fundamental issues of economic inequality, and the plight of so many Americans who are barely getting by would be on the front burner of this election campaign. John Edwards has championed the poor more than any white presidential candidate since Robert Kennedy did many decades ago. His campaign may be ending today, but he has already shaped the priorities of this election year in a decisive way.
Again today, he reminded us that "we have a moral responsibility to each other," as his valiant wife Elizabeth could be seen wiping a tear from her eyes. Because, he said, "But for the grace of God, there goes us." He called for an end to government "walking away" from poor and working people. Nobody has spoken of the 37 million Americans who wake up every morning in poverty more than John Edwards.
As he was on his way to give the announcement to withdraw from the presidential race, he stopped to talk to some homeless people under a bridge. One woman said, "Promise me you won't forget us." Edwards promised that he wouldn't. I believe him. I have admired John Edwards greatly - especially among the presidential candidates in recent years - and today I was so proud of him once again.
He closed by saying, "This son of a mill worker's gonna be just fine. Our job now is to make certain that America will be fine