Edwards here Tuesday; to focus on neighbors

The Youngstown Business Incubator is the rally’s probable location.



YOUNGSTOWN — Presidential hopeful John Edwards will talk about poverty and ways to strengthen neighborhoods and cities during a public rally Tuesday in Youngstown.

The Youngstown stop is part of a 12-city “Road to One America” tour that has the former 2004 Democratic vice presidential candidate traveling more than 1,800 miles in three days, starting Monday in New Orleans.

The details for Tuesday’s event in Youngstown aren’t finalized, but will be shortly, according to Edwards’ campaign.

State Rep. Robert F. Hagan, who is endorsing Edwards for president and offering advice to the campaign regarding the Youngstown visit, said the candidate will probably tour the Youngstown Business Incubator on West Federal Street in the city’s downtown.

After the tour, Edwards, a former U.S. senator from North Carolina, would hold a public rally outside the building, Hagan said.

“It’s important he recognizes the resurrection of industrial areas such as Youngstown,” said Hagan, of Youngstown, D-60th. “The future is high-tech. We have the opportunity to showcase our accomplishments.”

The rally site could pose a problem because the location directly west of the incubator is a huge hole that will be the Taft Technology Center next year. The sidewalk in front of the hole is closed.

The backup location for now is the Beatitude House on Lora Avenue on the city’s North Side, Hagan said.

Youngstown will be the second of three stops for Edwards on Tuesday. He starts the day in Cleveland, comes to Youngstown and finishes in Pittsburgh.

Campaign’s theme

The overall theme of the tour is bringing attention to the 37 million Americans living in poverty. Tuesday’s theme is “strengthening neighborhoods and cities rising.”

As for ending poverty, Edwards said it can be accomplished in 30 years. The plan calls for quality, affordable health care, raising the minimum wage to $9.50 an hour by 2012, protecting workers’ right to organize and making college more affordable.

Edwards’ visit will come less than a month after U.S. Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois, another Democratic presidential hopeful, held a private fundraiser — with guests paying $1,000 to $2,300 each — at a Boardman home.

Paul Sracic, a Youngstown State University political science professor, says Edwards’ public rally is a smart political move coming on the heels of Obama’s fundraiser.

“It’s a nice contrast,” Sracic said.

Edwards had a private fundraiser in Howland in March that went under the media radar screen at the time. Edwards raised about $50,000 at that event.

Edwards is strong in the upper Midwest and could become a formidable candidate with a good showing in the Iowa caucus, Sracic said.

‘Two Americas’

“He’s trying to build momentum,” Sracic said. “It’s wise for him to go back to his ‘Two Americas’ theme of 2004. All the Democratic candidates are focusing on the war, but the economy is what people are most worried about.”

During his failed 2004 presidential campaign, Edwards spoke of “Two Americas,” one for the wealthy and privileged, who get the best health care, education and tax benefits, and a second America for 98 percent of the country’s residents who are treated as second-class citizens.

Edwards spoke of that theme during a largely populist speech at the Teamsters Local 377 hall in Youngstown in February 2004.

During that speech and one in August 2004 at the Warren Community Amphitheater, as the Democratic vice presidential nominee, Edwards was short on specifics but received overwhelming cheers from those in attendance.

Youngstown Mayor Jay Williams wasn’t aware of Edwards’ Tuesday appearance until being told about it by The Vindicator.

Williams said he would attend the event because, “I’m always open to what the candidates have to say.”


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