Edwards: Time To Be Inspired Again

John Edwards opened his Denver stump speech with the Jon Stewart query: Who would he have “accidentally shot in the face” if he had been elected vice president?

The story has become a staple of Edwards’ national college campus tour, but he still got a big laugh with his answer, originally delivered on a recent appearance on the Daily Show: “Dick Cheney.”

But Edwards wasn’t laughing when he started talking about the state of the country and the state of the world with George W. Bush at the helm.

“The world is a chaotic place; the world is a dangerous place, and there is a reason for that,” he told an upbeat crowd of about 700 at Metro State College in Denver on Thursday. “For six years, George Bush has tried to prove America can lead by power alone. He’s wrong about that.”

“It is time,” Edwards said to cheers, “to ask Americans to be patriotic about something other than war.”

The next leader of the free world, Edwards said, needs to be someone who doesn’t hide only behind closed doors, but speaks to the world. Who takes action rather than stands back, in places and on issues that matter. In Africa, with its AIDS epidemic, in Darfur with its ongoing genocide. In Iran and in Syria and other parts of the Middle East. About the environmental disaster that will be the result of global warming. (“President Bush is the last person in the world who believes that global warming is [not] occurring,” Edwards said.)

The next leader of the free world must lead the world – and especially this country – off its addiction to oil, Edwards said, to more cheers. Must place a national cap on carbon monoxide emissions. Must reach out to tackle the dysfunction of the current health care system.

During his half-hour speech, Edwards pushed universal health care, and a living wage. He says it should be easier for workers to organize unions. America, he said, is ready to be “inspired again.”

The former senator from North Carolina directed his venom at Bush; he didn’t attack any of his fellow Democrats who are also running for president. But he did, pointedly, apologize for his vote on Iraq. “I voted for this war; I was wrong to vote for this war,” he said.

Cara DeGette is a longtime Colorado journalist and a senior fellow at Colorado Confidential. E-mail her at cdegette@coloradoconfidential.com.