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Edwards Answers Questions About His Agenda

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RALEIGH — U.S. Senator-elect John Edwards appeared live in the WRAL-TV studios during our Noon News Wednesday. Here are questions and answers from Edwards' appearance. Question:What's the first order of business for you?Answer:To go to work. I mean, I think that I am so honored to be chosen by the people of North Carolina to represent them and I think it's an enormous responsibility and I intend to devote just as much work to this as I did to the campaign. Question:Speaking of the campaign, last night as the numbers were coming in, we understand they fluctuated back and forth for much of the night. How worried were you?Answer:Well I mean I was concerned the entire campaign, including through last night. It was a close election and Lauch Faircloth ran a strong campaign, so we were always concerned. Question:Do you think it was a vote against negative advertising?Answer:It's sort of "is the glass half-empty or half-full"? The way I like to think about it is, I think it was a vote for positive campaigning. And I think people said to us that they really want to see us talk about issues that matter in their lives -- education, health care, social security, protecting the environment. And I think they want us to provide them with substantive information so they can make an informed decision. Speaking for myself, I think we have a responsibility to do that. Question:The way the nation watched this particular race, across the country, some are really surprised that a message is going to Republicans. Were you any part of an effort to send a message on what people were really looking for?Answer:No, I have to be too simple about it, but the way I think about it is, I think of what people here in North Carolina are like. They're very independent-minded and I think they don't like to be told how to think, number one, and number two, I think they judge people on their own merits. And I think what they did in my case is without regard to what was happening in Washington and with the president. They evaluated me, made a decision about me, and luckily for me they chose to elect me. But really I think they did what voters ought to do. Question:Have you heard from the White House? Do you think with the national voting the way it went, do you think an impeachment process is unlikely?Answer:I don't know the answer to that. I can tell you with respect to your last question, I think it's a very serious matter. And I think it's one that I could tell you I would take extraordinarily seriously. I think we have to gather the information, get the evidence, and make a really thoughtful decision about a very serious issue. I did get a call from the president last night to answer your first question. It was very short, he was very nice, and he just said "congratulations" and he was particularly proud of the positive campaign we'd run. Question:You will be working with Sen. Jesse Helms in a number of cases. What are your feelings on that?Answer:I don't think that'll be a problem at all. I respect Sen. Helms. He and I have already spoken this morning. I have to say, to his credit, that he called me at 8, 8:30 this morning, first thing. He absolutely did. He was very kind. He offered his help, his advice. I told him I very much wanted to come meet with him and get his advice because there's nobody obviously who knows how the Senate operates better than Jesse Helms. Question:Others have had a difficult time holding on to that senate seat, I guess going back to Sam Ervin's days. Do you think you can hold on to this one for a while?Answer:I have no idea. Right now my concern is doing the job that I was hired by the people of North Carolina to do. And I intend to throw myself into that with every bit of energy I have. Question:Speaking of that job, you've talked a lot about education, and the plight facing teachers and our students. What is going to be your first order of business in the area of education?Answer:I think we have to do some specific things.
  • One is, we need to reduce class size. No matter how good teachers are, and how hard they work, they can't do their job when they've got 29 or 30 kids in a classroom.
  • We need to make sure we get technology, computers in the classroom.
  • We need after-school programs, particularly in areas where kids are at risk, so they're off the streets and learning in the afternoon when they might be getting in trouble.
  • And we also need to make sure our kids are going to school in buildings and facilities that are well-maintained, the roofs aren't leaking, they're not sitting on top of each other, and they're not housed away in trailers.Those are some of the specific things I think we need to tackle. Question:Any particular committees you would like to be a part of on Capitol Hill?Answer:I've looked at a bunch of them actually, and I think what I want to do is see what's available, number one, and number two, make a judgment ultimately about what I think will be in the best interests of North Carolinians and I think we're not there quite yet. But I think it's an interesting question. Question:We've got a few minutes. Do you want to say anything to the voters out there?Answer:Just that I feel extraordinarily honored to have been chosen by them to represent them and they will get an awful, awful lot of hard work out of me.
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