Edwards meets New Hampshire voters in Littleton

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(Host) VPR continues its presidential coverage from New Hampshire, where North Carolina Senator John Edwards and former Vermont governor Howard Dean were looking for votes.

VPR’s Steve Zind looks at the campaign of North Carolina Senator John Edwards.

(Edwards) “Very good to see both of you. Thanks for being here. Thanks for saying hello.”

(Zind) The local diner is a favorite haunt of presidential candidates. For North Carolina Senator and candidate John Edwards, if it’s Friday, this must be the tiny Coffee Pot Diner in Littleton.

(Edwards) “It is Friday isn’t it?” (Sound of laughter.)
(Diner) “Yes it is Friday and you’re in Littleton, New Hampshire.”

(Zind) Health care and jobs were on the minds of people at the Coffee Pot Friday morning. Owner Jean McKenna asked Edwards what he would do help small businesses pay for employee health insurance.

(Edwards) “I think actually we ought to do two things. One is, for small businesses, give tax credit to the business owner, you in this case. And we also ought to give tax credits to the employees to help them pay for their share of the premiums.”
(McKenna) “Very good answer.”

(Zind) Diner Mary Ruppert told Edwards that too many New Hampshire jobs were going overseas. Edwards said as president he would negotiate tougher trade agreements and give tax cuts to companies that keep jobs in the United States. Afterwards Ruppert said she was impressed with Edwards.

(Ruppert) “He strikes me as being very concerned and he listens and he has some good ideas.”

(Zind) Ruppert says she makes a point to meet the candidates when they are in her area. So far the only other contender she’s met this year is former Vermont Governor Howard Dean.

(Rupper) “I see a lot of similarities between the two. I find them both to be very straightforward men, willing to speak their mind. I haven’t made any choices.”

(Zind) Edwards is reluctant to focus on Dean, who is leading in the New Hampshire polls. When asked how he’s highlighting the differences between himself and Dean, Edwards says he’s talking about his upbringing – how his father was a mill worker and he was the first in his family to attend college.

(Edwards) “What would make me the best president and the best democratic candidate is coming from a background, coming from a family of working people. Every idea that I have comes out of that. It’s my whole life experience.”

(Zind) Edwards won’t line up with other Democrats who say Dean may be too liberal to appeal to voters in a general election.

(Edwards) “I’m not into this ideological debate. I think Governor Dean is a good candidate and he’s working hard and I’m doing the same thing.”

(Zind) Edwards’ support among New Hampshire Democrats is in single digits according the latest poll. Edwards says he plans to attend 100 town meeting style gatherings in New Hampshire to get his message out.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Steve Zind in Littleton, New Hampshire.

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