Skip to comments.Edwards delivers final speech in Senate (Prepare to vomit)
Posted on 11/20/2004 6:55:38 AM PST by Jose Roberto
Edwards delivers final speech in Senate
Democrat talks of battles fought and constituents helped
Observer Washington Bureau
WASHINGTON - Sen. John Edwards said goodbye to the U.S. Senate on Friday, delivering a final floor speech that invoked the names of colleagues he fought with on the Patients Bill of Rights and constituents he fought for in the aftermath of Hurricane Floyd and the closing of Pillowtex.
Though the Tar Heel Democrat was absent from the upper chamber for much of the last two years -- missing a high percentage of the 673 roll call votes as he ran for president, then vice president -- he spoke warmly and with humor about the memories he'll take back to North Carolina when his single six-year term ends in January.
"I will never forget that first (legislative) struggle we had in the wake of Hurricane Floyd," said Edwards, who, as a brand new senator in 1999, had threatened to use parliamentary procedures to shut down the federal government if Congress didn't approve more hurricane relief money for his state.
But much of his 15-minute farewell speech, which was nationally televised on C-SPAN2, echoed the populist stump speeches he gave on the campaign trail in 2003 and 2004 -- years when he spent more time in Iowa and the Midwestern battleground states than in Washington or North Carolina.
Edwards, who gave up his Senate seat to pursue national office, sometimes seemed to be talking less to fellow senators on Friday than to his fellow North Carolinians -- and to voters he's likely to woo again in 2008, when many political analysts expect him to make another White House bid.
He talked of going to bat for the laid-off workers at Pillowtex, the hard-pressed tobacco farmers, the many North Carolinians in uniform, and the N.C. tourists in Washington who posed for pictures with him during "Tar Heel Thursday."
"I've never loved my home state and my country more than I do now," he said. "We've had some triumphs, we've had some tragedies over the last six years. But one thing is clear. I will never stop representing the people of North Carolina, the values that they represent, and the values that I grew up with there and the values I believe in. The truth is, it's who I am ... It's what I learned from going to church, from going to our schools, and from going to all 100 counties in North Carolina."
Edwards joked that with his exodus -- and that of fellow Southern Democrats Ernest "Fritz" Hollings of South Carolina and John Breaux of Louisiana -- "our accents will be missed here on the floor of the United States Senate."
The former trial lawyer never mentioned his role in President Clinton's impeachment trial or his high-profile work on the Senate Judiciary Committee -- exposure that helped him make a splash in the Senate, even though he started 100th out of 100 in terms of seniority.
And he offered no hint Friday of how he'll keep his name in the news after he leaves the Senate club -- and the media spotlight that comes with being a member.
Instead, Edwards spoke of soon having "God's gift ... more time. More time to hear the screen door slam when my kids come home ... More time to spend with my own parents. And more time to be there for the woman I love ... Elizabeth."
On behalf of his wife, who has just begun her fight with breast cancer, Edwards thanked "our family here in the Senate" and the more than 50,000 people who have expressed their support with e-mails and letters.
Edwards also expressed his regard for Sen. Evan Bayh, D-Ind., his seatmate and jogging partner, and for Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., who worked with him on the Patients Bill of Rights that passed the Senate only to die amid stalled negotiations with the White House.
But the N.C. senator's most extended praise went to Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., the 2004 Democratic presidential candidate who chose Edwards as his running mate:
"I embarked a few months ago on a journey with Sen. Kerry ... I got a chance to see him when others didn't, when there were no cameras around, when there were no crowds. He is a man of strength, conviction and courage."
The Senate also heard a farewell speech Friday from Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D., who lost his re-election bid this month.
A parade of senators, including Edwards, paid tribute to their leader. But Edwards also got some salutes.
"A powerful voice for our party," said Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., who later rose to speak, citing the "Two Americas" speech that won Edwards notice during his presidential run.
Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., also lauded Edwards for his "passion for people" on the campaign trail.
Edwards will turn over his seat to a Republican, U.S. Rep. Richard Burr of Winston-Salem. But he made it clear he won't disappear from the political scene.
Said Edwards: "This fight goes on."
I heard he had to ask directions how to fine the place.
I'm shocked that he could remember how to find the Senate floor. He's taken a check for years for doing little or no work for those of us in NC. Bye-bye, jerk.
The Breck Boy can always go and "carpet bag" his way in NY -- methinks there will be an open Senate seat there in '08...
Hey, they were victimized by a "foreigner" one time, they might fall for it again...
Is is just me or are the democrats talking more and more about church and God in their interviews and speeches of late?
That's true. Even Bob Beckel found God!
i was listening to conservative radio last night + on the liberal news at the top of the hour, this voice says:
"senator edwards gave up his senate seat to run for the vice presidency!"
yeah right! just what did kerry do to run for the presidency!
and would edwards have won if he had run?
Thats a different Johnny than the time reporter saw - you know, the one looking for his hair brush.
Move over, Geraldine.
Edwards joins the ranks of the 'also-ran-didn't-win-may-get-a-commentary-gig-on-newstalk-in-20-years' class.
They see it as a successful ploy since President Bush does that, although he doesn't do it for votes. (The RATS can't even understand that concept...)
Have the Dems ever had an original thought?
Thanks for the BARF ALERT it was needed
Get out, John.
A know-nothing, do-nothing nobody returns to obscurity. No one will notice.
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