Edwards Pitches Poverty Publicity

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Democratic presidential hopeful John Edwards’s planned three-day swing through hard-pressed neighborhoods and communities next week has been designed to wake up the press and public officials to the issue of poverty, the candidate’s national campaign manager, former Rep. David Bonior, said Monday.

“We want to force this issue into the debate,” Bonior said during an afternoon conference call with reporters in which he gave details of Edwards’s “Road to One America” tour, which will begin Monday in New Orleans.  Last December, Edwards announced his candidacy in the city’s Katrina-devastated Ninth Ward. The campaign swing echoes a 1968 poverty tour by Robert F. Kennedy, who shortly afterward announced his candidacy for president.

The effort, which will take Edwards through eight other cities and states before ending July 18 in Prestonburg, Ky.--not coincidentally where Kennedy’s tour wound up--“is aimed, quite honestly, at you,” Bonior told reporters.

“It’s a disgrace,” he said, that in the “richest country on earth … 1 out of 8 are still living in poverty.”

The campaign has pointedly noted that no early primary states have been included on the itinerary and that Edwards, whose rich America/poor America message defines his campaign, plans no fundraisers during the tour. But, just for the record, Edwards’s populist message has proved popular in Iowa, where candidates face their first test in that state’s January caucuses.

--Liz Halloran