Edwards third in Democratic Nevada caucus, speaks in Georgia

John Edwards
John Edwards

Democratic presidential hopeful former Sen. John Edwards, D-N.C., listens to applause from the crowd as he addresses a packed Carpenter's union hall event Saturday, Jan. 19, 2008, in St. Louis.

Tom Gannam/The Asscoaited Press
Published: Saturday, January 19, 2008 at 5:03 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, January 19, 2008 at 5:03 p.m.

ATLANTA - Fresh off a disappointing third-place finish in Nevada, Democratic presidential hopeful John Edwards braved a rare Georgia snowstorm on Saturday to tell a packed union hall that he's the best candidate for organized labor.

"I am not the candidate of glitz and glitter," Edwards told a cheering crowd at the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers local headquarters.

"I will be as strong a president for organized labor as has existed in the United States of America."

The swing through Georgia was part of Edwards' cross-country "Fight for the Middle Class" tour to some of the more than 20 states set to vote on Super Tuesday Feb. 5. Edwards also visited Oklahoma and Missouri on Saturday.

The trip came as caucus goers in Nevada handed the former U.S. senator from North Carolina his third third-place finish. Hillary Rodham Clinton won the state Saturday followed by Barack Obama. Edwards has trailed the two front runners in Iowa and New Hampshire

In Georgia, Edwards rolled out what has become a familiar populist speech, saying he would fight entrenched special interests.

"We need a president of the United States that will fight. Because nothing will change until we have a president who's willing to stand up to drug companies and insurance companies," he said.

He called for a hike in the minimum wage to $9.50 an hour, a repeal of President Bush's tax cuts and a national predatory lending law. Booming applause met Edwards call Saturday for strengthening the rights of workers to join a union.

Following his speech, Edwards told reporters that President Bush's proposed economic stimulus plan leaves out too many low-income Americans who desperately need help.

"It makes no sense," Edwards said

After coming up short in the early contests, Edwards is hoping to do well in South Carolina, the state where he was born. But he said no matter what he would remain in the race until the end.

"There is no do or die," he said. "I have said I am in this for the long term. I stand by that."

He blamed the media for "telling America that there are only two candidates for a year now."

Edwards received a rousing introduction from former Georgia Gov. Roy Barnes, who talked up the candidate's Southern roots.

"I'm tired of being down here in the South and not having someone who talks like I do," Barnes said.

Edwards said he would be a more powerful Democratic general election candidate in a Republican state like Georgia than either Clinton, of New York, or Obama, of Illinois, would be.

"I'm the only one of the three of us who has won in a red state. I won against the Jesse Helms political machine in North Carolina," he said.

The crowd that trekked through the snow to see Edwards was largely blue collar and union.

"He's always supported the working class man," Michael Schettino, an electrician, said.

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