A Heavyweight Stumps For Lamont

by Paul Bass | August 17, 2006 7:30 PM | | Comments (17)

A mill worker’s son and a millionaire’s son — one hoping to become America’s next president, the other Connecticut’s next U.S. senator — made two confessions to hundreds of supporters at a campaign rally in New Haven Thursday night. One apologized for voting to authorize the war in Iraq. The other said he should have spoken more about urban poverty in his successful campaign for the Democratic Senate nomination.

The mill worker’s son was John Edwards, the 2004 Democratic candidate for vice-president who’s busy building a 2008 presidential campaign. The millionaire’s son was Ned Lamont, who surprised the nation by defeating incumbent U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman in Connecticut’s Aug. 8 Democratic primary; Lamont now faces Lieberman again, who’s running as an independent third-party candidate, in the general election.

Edwards came to New Haven Thursday to support Lamont as well as Yale-New Haven’s blue-collar union organizing drive at a spirited rally before hundreds of people inside a Yale Medical School courtyard. Before the event, Edwards also kibbitzed with bloggers as well as with hospital workers.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate John DeStefano originally planned to appear at the rally, too. He changed his mind because he wanted to honor both the letter and the spirit of the agreement he brokered between Yale-New Haven Hospital and organizers from District 1199 on terms of the unionizing drive as well as construction of a new cancer center. DeStefano, New Haven’s mayor, agreed to stay neutral in the union drive. He feared that his presence at a pro-union rally directly across the street from the hospital could be interpreted as breaking the agreement, according to campaign spokesman Derek Slap.

So it was a Lamont rally, period (with a plug for Fairfield County’s Democratic U.S. Congressional candidate, Diane Farrell). The theme of the rally was poverty, an issue that has dominated Edwards’ speeches and other political work since he lost the 2004 election. His presence onstage with Lamont at the 5:15 p.m. event prompted Lamont to address the issue himself.

“I should have been talking more about poverty” in the primary campaign, Lamont told the crowd. “It’s a disgrace, and we should do better.”

“A single mother has to work 100 hours at minimum wage to afford a [two-bedroom apartment] in New Haven. That’s wrong. Work has got to pay.”

He spoke of how as many as a third of the children in Connecticut cities grow up in poverty. “We’re not going to allow that to happen in America. That’s why we’re in this race.” He spoke of how the Republican-led federal government spends “$250 million a day in Iraq” instead of “investing in our cities, investing in our kids, investing in our future… That’s going to change when Democrats get back” in power. He spoke of the 47 million Americans without health insurance. “That’s not going to stand. We’re going to fix it. Universal health care is a basic right, and we’re going to make it happen.”

In his remarks, Edwards called post-Katrina New Orleans “our great moral challenge.”

“We’re not the only ones who saw those images out of New Orleans. We’re not. The whole world” is watching, he said. “They want to see if we’re going to turn our backs on 37 million of our own citizens” nationwide who live below the poverty line. He called for a spike in the minimum wage, making it easier for unions to organize, universal health care, and an “Apollo-like project to move the United States away from our dependence on oil. We need to tell people the truth. We need to tell people to be patriotic about something other than the war” and to stop “driving around in vehicles that get 10 miles per gallon..”

He also called for distributing $1 million of new housing vouchers for poor people to move into better neighborhoods. He said that he believes all people have equal intrinsic worth. “If we believe that, when are we going to start living together?… Rich people should not be the only ones in America” who have a choice where to live.

Iraq Confession

Like Joe Lieberman, Edwards, a former U.S. senator, voted in favor of launching the war in Iraq. In marked contrast to Lieberman, who continues to defend the decision to wage war against Iraq and to portray the American effort as succeeding, Edwards offered a mea culpa Thursday night.

“I voted for this war. I was wrong. I shouldn’t have voted for this war. I take responsibility for that,” Edwards said. He apologized to the troops stuck in the quagmire in Iraq; unlike the Senate, they did nothing wrong, he said.

Edwards expressed incredulity that “anybody can say” the Iraq campaign “is working.” He noted that 6,000 Iraqis died in May and June, that there were two times as many attacks this month than in January, more roadside bombings in July than in any other month to date. “We have to start leaving,” he said, pulling 40,000 to 50,000 American troops out of the country immediately and drawing up a plan for withdrawing the rest over 12 to 18 months.

Before the rally Edwards visited pro-union hospital workers like Willie Tart (pictured) on York Street, offering them encouragement in their efforts to organize a blue-collar union at the hospital. He hopped on a sidewalk wall to address the workers. “Working people need to have a voice,” he said. “If we don’t keep this thing moving in the right direction, we can become an America of just a few rich people and everybody else. That’s not the kind of America we believe in.”

“You are not alone,” he added. “It may feel that way sometimes, but you’re not.”

Edwards had more trouble finding the words to say to this sunflower handed to him by bloggers from My Left Nutmeg. They asked him to give the plant an interview. He answered a question from blogger Spazeboy about Hurricane Katrina; click here to watch it.

Edwards was meeting privately with pro-Lamont bloggers in a cafeteria at the medical school’s Harkness Hall. He answered the bloggers’ questions about issues ranging from poverty to Joe Lieberman. (He said Lieberman should leave the race.) By contrast, he had no scheduled press conference for mainstream print, TV or radio reporters.

“They’ve shown how much influence they can have” in helping Lamont defeat Lieberman in the primary, Edwards explained in a conversation between events at his New Haven visit. “Influence in a positive way. Bloggers are going to play big role” in coming elections, he said. “Not just locally, but nationally.”

In, say, a presidential campaign, for instance.

(Click here to read the Chris Stuart’s report on the event.)

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Posted by: charlie | August 17, 2006 8:11 PM

If work doesn't pay you enough to afford an apartment here, that means it's time to move somewhere more affordable. Maybe that family should move to New Britain, or to St. Louis. The government's role is not to solve everyone's problem. Certainly, building more government-subsidized housing in areas where there is already a disproportionate amount of it is not the answer. If government were not involved, people would move and wages would rise due to increased labor demand.

Posted by: Steve Real | August 17, 2006 9:01 PM

Hey John Edwards.

You are the "lunchbox" democrat.
I wanted you to win for President.

If you can make it John.
Then we all can make it.

I'll vote for you
anyday of the week John.

You have excellent "luncbox" democrat credentials.


I'm backing my boy
All the way!

He grew up just like us
Just like US.
In the public schools
In the school of hard knocks.

I'm going to vote for an average "Joe"
just like me.

-Steve Real

Posted by: Jacqrat | August 17, 2006 10:01 PM

Hey Charlie,

Wow. What a great idea!

Unfortunately RELOCATING A FAMILY TAKES MONEY. And if you can't afford to live here, it's highly doubtful you'll be able to save enough for the move.

(Note for Joe's Lobbyist friends that are posting here. "Asking Daddy to release some of the trust fund early" isn't an option for others.)

Posted by: TrueBlueCT | August 18, 2006 12:06 AM

It's amazing how ignorant and seemingly uncaring a person can be. If Charlie knew a few more facts about minimum wages and the hardships of working people, he wouldn't be so callous.

But Ned is right. We barely talk about poverty any more in this country. Thank goodness for Democrats like John Edwards.

And Steve. Joe isn't one of us. He's at best a Republicrat. Others might call him a wolf in sheep's clothing. I mean you did notice how quickly the Republicans dumped their candidate in favor of Joe.

Posted by: nfjanette [TypeKey Profile Page] | August 18, 2006 12:23 AM

"I voted for this war. I was wrong. I shouldn't have voted for this war. I take responsibility for that," Edwards said. He apologized to the troops stuck in the quagmire in Iraq; unlike the Senate, they did nothing wrong, he said.

Mr. Edwards shouldn't second guess himself so easily; he made the correct decision with his vote despite the fact that it was for the wrong reasons, and despite the fact that the Bush administration so poorly planned and executed the war and the aftermath. Make no mistake about it, the reason Iraq had to be invaded was not because of lies about chemical weapons, but rather because of the amount of funding they we actively sending terrorist organizations, including the one that had already attacked our country on 9/11.

But we needed armoured personal carriers and personal armor for our soldiers, and the Bush administration had rather spend billions on star-wars weapons system testing. We needed more troops on the ground earlier, and pride prevented the secretary of defense from reversing his incorrect initial war plans.

We destroyed too much infrastructure in Iraq, including the standing military, all of which were needed to have a running chance of getting them rebuilding their country into a more stable player in that part of the world. Add the staggering corruption of missing and miss-spent billions of post-war aid sent to American corporations in no-bid contracts and defeat is almost assured, but not because the original problems didn't exist. The path to hell, as they say, is paved with the best of intentions.

Posted by: clarion | August 18, 2006 6:04 AM

The purpose of government is to SOLVE PROBLEMS for the Common Good. If someone is holding a job but has trouble paying for a place to live, means theres a need for someone to do that job, but affordable housing is also needed so they can. That's supply and demand too. Just because a janitor or a burger-flipper have trouble paying for a place to live doesn't mean theres no need for their services. Most people have more than one job and find it difficult to meet their housing needs.

Even in expensive 'burbs like Santa Barbara have need for cops, firemen, nurses, and other workers. But they can't afford to live near there and often have to commute two hours to get to their jobs. Imagine a cop or firemen having to commute two or three hours to get to his job? So guess what those rich Santa Barbara snobs are doing? They're building middle and low income housing.

Posted by: Dominic | August 18, 2006 8:34 AM

The sad thing is that John Edwards and Al Gore are probably doing more for their respective issues (poverty, the environment) being out of public service than what they could ever have accomplished while in office.

The whole system is broken.

Posted by: Sam | August 18, 2006 8:48 AM

John Edwards is just another rich lawyer who used junk science to win megamillion verdicts.

And Ned Lamont is just another ultra-rich cable TV owner.

Why is it only rich people like Edwards, Lamont or Corzine get elected to US Senate? Can't the Democrats find real people, not
country-club, limousine faux liberals?

Cable viewers of the world unite - all we have to lose is time waiting for the cable TV repairmen

Posted by: Wowzers | August 18, 2006 10:01 AM

Charlie's job just got out-sourced to India and now he' flipping burgers at three places just to pay rent.....

Nfjanette's child just got drafted to fight in the Iraqi civil war. Too bad Nfjanette didn't understand that Iraq supported Palestinian "freedom fighters", not the radical & fanatical supporters of "Jihad for Dummies Bin Laden". Too bad Nfjanette didn't understand that the CIA wrote "Jihad for Dummies" in the 80s when we trained Bin Laden to fight the Russians in Afghanistan.

Well said Dominic! I've often wondered if these guys shouldn't just keep doing what they are doing instead of getting back into politics. Both of them seem to be having fun.

Sam, you really need to read more and watch less television. What are Bush & Cheney worth in dollars? C'mon Sam.... you can do better than to recycle old smear tactics can't you? At least try some different ones once in a while - try these on for size "cut & run", "liberal media", "foreign experience", "his own state wouldn't re-elect Edwards".... They're equally disingenuous and incorrect, but at least it provides variety and entertainment.

In case my tongue-in-cheek confused anyone - I support John Edwards and wish Ned Lamont success (although I think Lieberman will win).


Posted by: ROBN | August 18, 2006 1:26 PM

For Nfjanette...

THERE WAS NO CONNECTION BETWEEN IRAQ AND AL QUADA PRIOR TO THE US INVASION. Don't take my word for it, George W Bush said so himself.

Adam Boulton, Sky News London: Do you believe that there is a link between Saddam Hussein, a direct link, and the men who attacked on September the 11th?

George W Bush: I can't make that claim.

White House Press Conference - January 31 2003

Posted by: charlie | August 19, 2006 9:30 AM

Subsidizing thousands of housing units in a small area, like the downtown of a major city, does not solve the common good. If people were truly interested in solving the common good, they would tear down half of the subsidized units in New Haven and rebuild them in suburban towns, thereby increasing the land value of downtown New Haven to the point where more housing units could be built there, and thus, the area made more affordable. There is a difference between "affordable" units and "government subsidized" units. When the government interferes with the housing market in the way they have the past 50 years, nobody wins.

Posted by: nfjanette [TypeKey Profile Page] | August 19, 2006 11:27 PM

More leftist lies. One doesn't have to support the Bush administration - and I don't most of the time - to understand the truth of the war being raged against our country and Israel by fundamentalist Islam. Palestinian "freedom fighters" are vermin that steal from their own people. As for the Iraq-Al Qaeda (note the correct spelling, "ROBN") Do you think Abu Musab al Zarqawi was just vacationing in Iraq? Wake up and smell the jihad, my leftist friends; they've already knocked on the door of our country, and will do so again and again until they are liquidated. Just ask the British this past week - they'll tell you where to put your leftist lies.

Posted by: ROBN | August 20, 2006 10:56 AM

For Nfjanette,

A brief scan of US government departments, as well as news outlets will show you that there is actually no consensus about how to spell Al Quada (I'll give it to you though, that my version is less used). In any event, you've made false claim against me and I won't stand for it. When you make false claims against somebody in writing, you're not only lying and debasing public discourse but you're committing what called libel and that's against the law. Take note; progressives have had it with radical conservative propaganda and we're not going to accept this behavior anymore.

Since you may be too lazy to fact check on your own, I've provided you with a link to the video of the White House press conference showing George Bush speaking the quote I provide for you. The really ironic thing about this (it reinforces my claim of radical conservative propaganda) is that you have to read his lips. Somehow, magically, the audio for this very incriminating sentence drops just as George Bush speaks it. How convenient for him and his apologists!


Posted by: nfjanette [TypeKey Profile Page] | August 21, 2006 12:11 AM

Wrong again. I made no such false claims - you did, when you claimed no connection exists. I didn't claim the president didn't make those statements, I said the truth is that there was an Iraq-Al Qaeda connection despite whatever President Bush or you claim. Again, answer my questions: what was Abu Musab al Zarqawi doing in Iraq? I look forward to an answer that shows an understanding of the facts rather than drama. Hint: try using google and reading the articles that you don't agree with; I did, and I've come away with a clear set of events that point to the connection between the two evil, Western-hating groups. They hate you, ROBN, despite whatever political views you hold, and they don't care about whether you file a lawsuit - they have already attacked us and will do so again if possible, without regard to who holds the office of the President in this country.

And finally, if you read my post more carefully, you'll see your belief that I am a member of a radical conservative group to be off base. It's just that the positions you state are so far to the left that it makes me look like a right-winger rather than a moderate centrist, which would be a more accurate label if we need one.

Posted by: Dominic | August 21, 2006 9:04 AM

Hey Sam, where are all those poor Republicans running for office?

The reality is that only someone with Lamont's wealth could have challenged a three-term incumbent with a war chest the size of Lieberman's.

I don't know how you can call Lamont or Edwards "faux liberals." If their beliefs and votes fall in line with liberal values, what does their wealth matter?

If you want "real people" to be elected on both sides of the aisle, why don't you call for campaign finance reform or public-funded elections rather than attack successful businessmen?

Posted by: Robn | August 21, 2006 1:19 PM

To Nfjanette,

If you're not a Bush supporter then stop participating in his "culture of fear". You're giving a perfect example of how not to behave in a political forum. Whether you consider yourself right, left, center, Republican, Democrat, green, liberal, libertarian, or conservative doesn’t really matter. Your bad behavior speaks volumes about you and I’m glad that the New Haven Independent readers have gotten a taste of it. Maybe it will motivate local truth-seekers to be more politically active.

Back to what Nfjanette wrote… "the reason Iraq had to be invaded was not because of lies about chemical weapons, but rather because of the amount of funding they we(re) actively sending terrorist organizations, including the one that had already attacked our country on 9/11.�

Later Nfjanette wrote…“the truth is that there was an Iraq-Al Qaeda connection.�

I stand by my original assertion.
This is backed up the begrudging Bush quote, by the copious documentation of the 911 Commission report, as well as the presence of a remarkable vacuum where your proof should be. Its impossible to argue that Al Quada isn’t in Iraq today. It's the result of the chaos caused by the bungling Coalition Provisional Authority during the aftermath of the US invasion. Chaos and the US military presence drew them there, not the complicity of the former Iraq dictator.

But don't take my word for it, or Bush's word for it, or the 911 comission's word for it. Provide New Haven Independent readers some evidence to back up your claim.

Posted by: dana b | August 21, 2006 3:24 PM

Dear NFJanette and others,

It seems to me that the real debate here is how to extinguish the threat of jihadist attacks -- against the U.S., the West in general, and Israel in particular. I think it's going to be an extremely long struggle. There will be times for outright war -- Afghanistan's Taliban sheltering Bin Laden et al. comes to mind -- but mostly that struggle will have to address the issues that energize the jihadists and their sympathizers. Those issues seem to be the lack of homeland and compensation for lost land, jobs, and opportunities for Palestinians driven out of Israel during various Arab-Israeli wars; severe economic underdevelopment throughout the Arab and Muslim world; the lack of representative and responsive governments in the Middle East; and U.S. (and other developed countries') support of repressive regimes in the Middle East, support that has been predicated on western desires for political stability and uninterrupted oil flow.

The jihadists have a dead-end, anti-modernist, take-no-prisoners strategy, but their goals, if realized, would only plunge their peoples into an even darker age. Yet, the West up until now, has seemed unable to counter the jihadists' appeal. The war in Iraq, and Israel's recent war in Lebanon, however justified or unjustified one believes those wars to be, have only created more jihadists. I am now convinced there is no way to win this struggle by force of arms, except in very, very specific cases, and then those armed conflicts would just be the start of a building process to come.

I think the crux of the argument among all who oppose the jihadists is not whether to defeat them, but how. NFJanette believes we should liquidate the terrorists. I don't see how we can do so by military force, when their appeal to others is so much a matter of hearts and minds.

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