Beginning a three-day farewell tour as U.S. senator, John Edwards focused on the future Monday, promising to help his wife during her treatment for breast cancer and to carry on his political activism.
“One thing you can count on is that this fight is not over,” the former vice presidential candidate said to loud applause from about 300 people at a federal building in western North Carolina’s largest city.
It was the first of six stops, and Edwards looked relaxed and confident as he promoted his Senate accomplishments and discussed his failed bid for the White House as the running mate to Democratic presidential nominee Sen. John F. Kerry.
“It’s been a remarkable journey for this country boy from North Carolina to grow up in a small town and get the opportunity to run for vice president of the United States,” Edwards said. “And if I had not grown up in North Carolina, I would not have been able to do the things I’ve done.”
Edwards, 51, will finish his term in the Senate early next year; his successor will be Republican Richard Burr.
At a town hall-style meeting, Edwards sidestepped the issue of whether he would consider a presidential run in 2008, saying he was focusing on his wife’s illness.
“Right now, with all that has happened, we’re going to work to make sure Elizabeth is well,” Edwards said. “I will make any decisions on what I should be doing over the next few months and beyond in the future.”
Yet in promising to fight for those without health insurance and jobs, Edwards sounded like a man with political plans. “The fight is important,” he said. “The battle I’m fighting is about building one country. It’s not about blue states or red states.”
Edwards suggested Democrats did not do enough in 2004 to promote their religious beliefs.
“The voters did not know where we stood and what we believed in,” he said. “The American people need to know we are going to keep this country safe.”
Edwards plans to build a new home near Chapel Hill.