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Edwards: Presidential Run Helps N.C. More Than Voting On Bills

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RALEIGH, N.C. — From New Hampshire, to South Carolina, then north again . . . it is all in a day's work for Sen. John Edwards.

The Democratic presidential hopeful on Wednesday left New Hampshire, where he was campaigning ahead of Tuesday's primary. He traveled nearly 1,000 miles to make a brief appearance in Greenville, S.C. Then, he went back to where he started his day for more campaigning.

Edwards has been on the road a lot the last few months. It shows in his Senate voting record.

Since October, U.S. senators had 89 opportunities to vote on various pieces of legislation. Records show Edwards was there 28 percent of the time.

North Carolina's other senator, Elizabeth Dole, had a 100 percent voting record.

Edwards' people argue that North Carolina benefits more from his presidential campaign than it loses from his missed votes.

Edwards campaigned in Iowa for 81 days trying to win voters for Monday's caucuses, in which he finished second.

Since then, he has turned his attention to New Hampshire and South Carolina.

As the campaign heated up in the homestretch, Edwards had 28 chances to vote on legislation. He showed up four times for a 14 percent voting record.

In your opinion, does Sen. John Edwards give a favorable or unfavorable impression of North Carolina to others as he campaigns across the country? Favorable Unfavorable

"Does that sound like he's doing his job?" asked Republican strategist Marc Rotterman. "To me, it doesn't."

Rotterman said he commends Edwards for his successful presidential campaign, but "I think he is absent for his constituents, for the people of North Carolina, and I think he ought to consider returning his salary to the taxpayers."

Edwards' national spokesman, Roger Salazar, said the senator cannot be two places at once and has made the key votes.

Besides, added Salazar, "I think most people understand that when you're running for president, sometimes you're going to have a tradeoff like this."

Edwards voted against the president's prescription bill and still criticizes the drug lobbyists in campaign speeches.

"'Can you give us a little help on this bill and, 'wink, wink,' I'll see you at the fund-raiser,'" Edwards said in an Iowa speech, mocking Bush. "We ought to cut these people off at the knees."

In Iowa last week, Edwards told WRAL he has not lost sight of his home state.

When asked if he felt he still was representing North Carolina during his campaigning in New Hampshire and Iowa, Edwards said: "Yes.

"In fact," he said, "I'm representing North Carolina very well because the values I learned growing up in North Carolina are the very values propelling this campaign."

During his visit to Greenville, S.C., Wednesday, Edwards made a prediction about the polls in what he called "my part of the country."

"All the pundits on television say (President) George Bush is very popular, he's very strong in the South, he he's hard to beat in the South," Edwards, who is fourth in the latest New Hampshire polling, told his audience. "This is what I want you to tell them about that: The South is not George Bush's back yard. It is my back yard, and I will beat George Bush in my back yard."

The Edwards campaign points out that two other senators are running for president -- John Kerry and Joe Lieberman. Over the past year, Edwards has a better voting attendance record than either of them.

"From our perspective, the best thing for North Carolina is for John Edwards to be elected president," Salazar said.


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