Edwards takes issue with Dean’s comment on race

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(Host) Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards says he plans to wage an active campaign to win the support of college students all across the country. In remarks to regional reporters, Edwards also unleashed his first strong criticisms of Howard Dean.

VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports:

(Kinzel) Edwards believes he can attract a lot of young people to his campaign even though former governor Howard Dean has been very successful in recruiting college aged students. Edwards has unveiled a plan that is designed to increase the number of high school students who go on to college.

Under the proposal, the federal government would pay the full tuition at a state university or community college for any student with a B average who agrees to work 10 hours a week at the college. Edwards says reaching out to young voters is a critical part of his campaign:

(Edwards) “By going to high schools to reach out to young people in both those places, by using the Internet, also to reach out to young people. This is actually something I’ve been doing and that effort will become increasingly more intense as we go forward.”

(Kinzel) Sensing that Dean is the front runner in the race, some of the other Democratic candidates have been attacking Dean’s position on a number of issues, but Edwards has refrained from doing this. However a Dean comment in a debate on Tuesday night sponsored by the Congressional Black Caucus was too much for Edwards to take. Dean said “I’m the only white politician that ever talks about race in front of white audiences.”

(Edwards) “That was a disservice to the other people on the stage – not just me, the others too who talk about race and civil rights in front of all audiences. And also a disservice to all of those who came before us who talked about this issue and championed this issue.”

(Kinzel) The Dean campaign said it was too busy to respond to Senator Edward’s comments.

For Vermont Public Radio I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.

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