Local News

Sen. Edwards Meets With Families, Soldiers At Fort Bragg

Posted March 24, 2003 3:49 a.m. EST

— U.S. Sen. John Edwards, whose pro-war stance earned him a loud round of boos last week in California, pledged support to military families at a meeting Monday with Fort Bragg troops and relatives.

Standing at the entrance to Fort Bragg afterward, the Democratic presidential candidate said he also thanked the soldiers' families for their sacrifice.

"They are understandably proud that their family members are fighting for America," Edwards said.

Natasha Trahan, whose husband is an Army specialist deployed to Korea, said Edwards' words sounded familiar and vague.

"You hear a lot of that from almost any politician," said Trahan, holding her 1-year-old daughter, Trinity. "But what exactly is he going to do to get more support, to help us?"

Day care is a major headache for parents left behind when their spouses deploy, she said. Her husband, Jeremy, used to care for Trinity while she worked at night as a waitress. Now, she said, she relies on other mothers, but many of those are leaving Bragg as their husbands are sent overseas.

She said she would like for Fort Bragg to have a day care that's open at night.

Edwards also responded to a question about the anti-war protesters who have dogged him.

At the annual Democratic Party convention in California - a state rich in both money and electoral votes - the party faithful jeered and booed Edwards and other pro-war presidential candidates and cheered for those who oppose the war with Iraq, such as former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean.

And on Sunday, about 150 to 200 people protested at the state Democratic Party headquarters where Edwards held a fund raiser. The crowd beat plastic buckets with sticks and yelled "No war" and "Bring Edwards out" during the demonstration, organized by the N.C Coalition for Peace and Justice.

Asked Monday what he thought of those protests, Edwards said the protesters should be treated with dignity and respect.

"This is America. I believe in freedom of speech," he said.