John Edwards

John Edwards, D-NC, is currently serving his first term in the U.S. Senate. A trial lawyer, Edwards unseated veteran Sen. Lauch Faircloth in 1998 in his first bid for public office. He serves on four Senate committees: Health, Education, Labor and Pensions; Intelligence; Judiciary; and Small Business.

Edwards was born in South Carolina on June 10, 1953. The son of Wallace Edwards, a textile mill worker, and Bobbie Edwards, a shopkeeper and postal worker, John was raised in Robbins, NC, and was the first of his family to attend college. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree from North Carolina State University in 1974 and a law degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1977.

Edwards married fellow law student Elizabeth Anania in 1977. They have four children: Catherine, Emma Claire and Jack. Their eldest son, Wade, died in 1996.

Edwards campaign Web site:

Issues, Strategies and Key Quotes

Top three issues:
Establishing new jobs:
Edwards proposes a plan for revamped job training programs that links training to real jobs. The Edwards economic plan focuses on cutting middle class taxes so families can buy a first home or save for college or retirement; restoring and creating jobs with tax credits for domestic manufacturing; and restoring corporate accountability. He also proposes cutting the deficit in half by stopping the Bush tax cuts for those making more than $200,000, shutting down corporate tax loopholes, and limiting spending in non-defense federal bureaucracies by 10 percent.
College Education: Edwards offers a plan for free college education through work, a program he calls “College for Everyone.”
Health Care: Edwards proposes universal coverage for children and “significant help” to adults.

Official strategy statement: Edwards will continue to focus his campaign for the working people.

Campaign's assessment of its own strength: Edwards grew up in a small town, and he knows first-hand about issues that rural Iowans face.

Quotes from Edwards: "I hope you agree with me this is still a country where the son of a millworker can go toe-to-toe against the son of a president of the United States." — Washington Post, 6/8/03

"We have an imminent, serious threat. It won't protect the American people either in the short or long term to have a long-term reorganization of government bureaucracy if we aren't focusing on the primary function of identifying where the bad guys are and stopping them." — Des Moines Register, 7/15/03

Potential Vulnerabilities

Critiques from others: "Edwards has become a captive of the trial lawyers and the left-wing special interests in Washington. He has lost touch with the average American. Clearly, he is not ready for 'prime time.'" -- The [Raleigh] News and Observer, 12/08/02

"I know, Edwards has served just four and a half years in the Senate. And he's a trial lawyer, and he's rich, and he's unfamiliar with the nuances of some policy debates, and he's got no military record. I won't spend this column pointing out that Bush's resume was equally thin when he ran for president, he had less foreign policy experience than Edwards does now, that Bush and Kerry are rich, or that Bush is still unfamiliar with the nuances of most policy debates. The journalistic case for Edwards is that he's got the most interesting message in the race, distinct from Dean's and Bush's, plus the talent to make it stick. He'd put up a hell of a race against Dean and, if he prevailed, a hell of a race against Bush." -- Slate, 07/08/03

Our own assessment of Edward's vulnerability: Edwards has not been as visible in Iowa as the front-running candidates. He has not established strong support in the state in terms of money raised or backing by Democratic party activists. His lack of political experience as a one-term senator makes some people question his political savvy. The announcement of his candidacy on Sept. 16 was overshadowed by retired Gen. Wesley Clark's declaration.

Iowa Campaign Information
Main Iowa campaign office:

1109 Grand Avenue
Des Moines, Iowa 50309
Phone: (515) 323-5067

Iowa Campaign Manager

Rob Berntsen
Phone: (515) 243-6622
E-mail: [email protected]

Iowa press secretary:

Kim Rubey
Phone: (515) 371-6841
E-mail: [email protected]

Eastern Iowa Contact:

Mark McCullough
Johnson County Organizer
2nd Floor, Old Capitol Mall, Iowa City
Phone: (319) 351-5672
E-mail: [email protected]

Number of Iowa Offices:


Number of Paid Iowa Staffers:
National Campaign Information
National campaign manager:
Nick Baldick
Edwards for President
PO Box 300034
Raleigh, NC 27622
Phone: (919) 785-1900
E-mail: [email protected]
National press secretary:
Jennifer Palmieri
Phone: (919) 785-1900
E-mail: [email protected]
National media consultant:

David Axelrod
Phone: 919-788-7474

National pollster:
Harrison Hickman
Phone: 919-788-7474
Campaign fundraising
to date:

$11,936,277 raised
$3,817,278 spent
$8,118,998 cash on hand
As of June 30, 2003

Copyright © 2003 by Iowa Presidential This site produced by the "Presidential Politics" class in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Iowa.