Local News

Edwards Excites Hometown With Presidential Announcement

Posted September 16, 2003 8:19 a.m. EDT

— It's official, again. Sen. John Edwards is running for president.

Edwards came home Tuesday to make the announcement. He did it in Robbins, in Moore County, where he grew up and went to school. His parents still live there.

Edwards' formal announcement was much like a grand opening for a business that has been open for nine months. He has been campaigning since the start of the year.

It was all part of political tradition, and Edwards wanted his hometown to be part of it.

With John Mellencamp's "Small Town" on the speakers, John Edwards returned to Robbins in rock-star fashion.

"I declare myself a candidate for President of the United States," he said to a roar of cheers and applause.

The senator stood in the shadow of the closed mill where his father worked. He used the blue-collar backdrop to hammer President Bush's economic policies.

"This campaign, my campaign, is build on new ideas and old values," Edwards said. "Work, responsibility, a fair shake for all and a free ride for nobody."

In addition to high-powered Democrats, Edwards' hometown supporters turned out by the hundreds.

"He was always such a fine young man," said one of his old teachers.

A state trooper who once stopped Edwards for speeding and let him go also showed up for the announcement.

When asked if he ever imagined he'd be standing there watching Edwards announce for president, the trooper, now retired, said: "No, sir. No, sir."

Despite trailing in most polls, Edwards said he is committed to winning a marathon campaign.

"I will beat George Bush in North Carolina," he said.

And he waved off those who believe he is setting himself up to be a vice-presidential candidate.

"I say they are wrong," he said.

Edwards said the hard-working values he learned in Robbins make up what is right in America -- and he hopes to carry that message to the White House.

After his announcement in Robbins, Edwards headed for Columbia, S.C. Most analysts believe Edwards must win South Carolina to have any shot at the Democratic nomination.