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Sen. Edwards Meets With Families, Soldiers At Fort Bragg

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FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. — U.S. Sen. John Edwards, whose pro-warstance earned him a loud round of boos last week in California,pledged support to military families at a meeting Monday with FortBragg troops and relatives.

Standing at the entrance to Fort Bragg afterward, the Democraticpresidential candidate said he also thanked the soldiers' familiesfor their sacrifice.

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

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

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

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

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

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

At the annual Democratic Party convention in California - astate rich in both money and electoral votes - the party faithfuljeered and booed Edwards and other pro-war presidential candidatesand cheered for those who oppose the war with Iraq, such as formerVermont Gov. Howard Dean.

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

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

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

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