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Miles Mogulescu Headshot

The Closing Argument For John Edwards

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To Democratic caucus-goers in Iowa: For the past 9 months, the mainstream media has tried to turn the race for the Democratic Presidential nomination into a two-person race between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, although not a single voter has cast a ballot.

Tonight, you have the ability to force the media to change their story by voting for John Edwards.

It is not surprising that the mainstream media should try to prematurely shut Edwards out of the race, because he is the one leading Democrat who truly challenges the political dominance of corporate America. And after all, the mainstream media, largely controlled by horizontally and vertically integrated corporations, is but one arm of corporate America with a vested interest in maintaining the status quo in Washington. Edwards challenges that status quo.

Hillary Clinton is intimately tied in to corporate America. She has received more campaign contributions from pharmaceutical makers, commercial banks, Wall Street investment houses, and the real estate sector than any other candidate, Democratic or Republican. politics of triangulation plays progressivism off against conservatism to effect small-bore change that doesn't challenge the powerful special interests or the way that Washington does business. The very premise of her campaign is that she can work the present Washington system better than her opponents, not that she will change the way Washington does business. Hillary won't promise to withdraw all American combat troops from Iraq before 2012, voted for the Kyle-Lieberman Iran resolution encouraging the aggressive militaristic stance of the Bush Administration, and calls for increasing the size of the Army by 100,000, thus taking money away from pressing domestic needs.

Obama can be inspiring in speaking about change. But his calls for change are largely symbolic and lack substance. Obama has raised almost as much money from Wall Street investment bankers as has Clinton. As New York magazine has reported, the difference between Hillary's Wall Street backers and Obama's Wall Street backers is largely generational with investment bankers in their fifties and sixties supporting Clinton and those in their forties supporting Obama. Citigroup Chairman Robert Rubin, Bill Clinton's Secretary of the Treasury, is bundling Wall Street contributions for Hillary, while his son, private equity fund manager Jamie Rubin, is bundling Wall Street contributions for Obama. Referring to this generational divide among Wall Street contributors, Obama's chief campaign strategist David Axelrod noted, "there is a substrata of people who in past compaigns weren't allowed to sit at the adult table who all of a sudden were quite formidable." So, are we to change from a President controlled by one generation of Wall Street investment bankers to one controlled by a younger generation of Wall Street investment bankers?

Obama's political strategy is quite consistent with such financial backers. One of his big applause lines is "The insurance and drug companies can have a seat at the table...they just can't buy all the chairs."

John Edwards responds that "some people argue that we're going to sit at the table with these people and they're going to voluntarily give their power away. I think it's a complete fantasy; it will never happen." If Obama thinks the way to bring change to Washington is for a bunch of insiders to sit around the table with the corporate special interests, he is dreaming. These special interests are all about using their money and power to manipulate the government to increase their bottom lines. Insurance companies and drug companies are not interested in universal health care for all Americans. Big energy companies are not interested in developing alternative fuels, capping greenhouse gases, or ending America's reliance on oil. Hedge fund managers are not interested in having their billion dollar incomes taxed at a marginal rate of 28% like the wage income of the companies they invest in, instead of at the special rate of 15%. Edwards will use the bully pulpit of the Presidency to mobilize the American people to take on these special interests in the name of the public good. He is the most progressive major party candidate since Bobby Kennedy, perhaps since Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

Moreover, John Edwards has the best chance of beating the Republican nominee in November and bringing with him large Democratic majorities in the House and particularly the Senate which will be necessary to bring fundamental change. While no single poll is decisive, when one looks at polls taken over the past nine months matching Edwards against the various potential Republican nominees, Edwards consistently wins by the highest margins of any Democrat and virtually never loses. Clinton often loses in match-ups against McCain and Giuliani (as does Obama, but somewhat less often), and when she wins, it is by smaller margins than Edwards. According to a recent CNN poll, "Edwards is the most electable Democrat. Against McCain, Edwards is slightly ahead in terms of electoral votes. Clinton is way behind." analysis of available public polls from July 1 to December shows that on average, Edwards beats the Republican contenders by 8%, Obama by 5%, and Clinton by only 3%. A recent CNN poll shows Edwards beating McCain by 8 points, McCain beating Clinton by 2 points, and McCain and Obama in a tie.

In sum, John Edwards is the Democrat with the best chance of beating whomever the Republicans nominate, and if he becomes President, is most likely to bring fundamental change to Washington.

My friends in Iowa. You can change the mainstream media story of the Democratic Presidential race by caucusing for John Edwards tonight.

Note: For a more detailed discussion of why John Edwards is the most electable Democrat and would make the best President among the leading Democratic contenders, please see my earlier Huffington Post articles at: and at