John Edwards is taking a break from fundraisers and a break from campaigning in primary states. Instead, for three days next week he will be going on a poverty tour:
Edwards’ “Road to One America” tour will take him through New Orleans, Memphis, Cleveland, Pittsburgh and eight other cities and eight states. It begins on July 16, and he’ll wrap up in southwest Virginia, then Whitesburg and Prestonsburg in Kentucky.
The former North Carolina senator and 2004 vice presidential candidate said the makeup of the poor has changed in the past 40 years to include a wide range of ages and a variety of ethnic and regional backgrounds.
Edwards also plans to visit towns hit by the loss of manufacturing jobs and cities with suburban poverty.
President Lyndon Johnson declared the war on poverty in 1964 from eastern Kentucky’s coal country, the same territory that would draw Robert F. Kennedy for a two-day caravan tour in 1968, a month before announcing he would run for president.
Predictably, the chatter has been about how this will impact the race. Will it help him get votes? Will it raise his profile? Why is he doing this? Is it genuine? Is he a hypocrite because of his wealth?
Who cares? It does not matter. It doesn’t matter if he gets a hair weave on the plane and if he decides to but a new Jaguar. What matters – what matters A LOT – is that he is doing it.
When his campaign manager says, that the goal is to highlight the 37 million Americans living in poverty reminding people, “They are not just statistics. They are human beings with hopes and aspirations.” Take it at face value. Applaud it. Jump up and down for it.
Because he is doing it.
No one else is.
And the poor need every bit of attention any candidate is willing to give. Kudos to John Edwards for the trip. May every other candidate be shamed into following his footsteps.