Former Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards brought his primary campaign to the Union of Needletrades, Industrial and Textile Employees Union Hall in Rochester, where he spoke to hundreds of supporters last Sunday night. The message of hope and jobs that he brought to the UNITE Hall, however, was not nearly enough to surmount his Democratic opponent, John Kerry, in New York, or any of the other nine states in Super Tuesday’s primaries. As expected, Massachusetts Senator Kerry won decisively in New York Tuesday night, his nine victories securing his party’s backing for November’s election. A Vietnam War hero with extensive credentials, Kerry is the Democratic candidate who will try to defeat the incumbent George W. Bush. Most UR students didn’t vote in Tuesday’s primaries. “I would have voted in the primary, but it would have been more trouble getting an Absentee Ballot than it was worth. Kerry had it in the bag.” Sophomore Will Fassett said. “I think he is the best candidate, he looks the most presidential.” Edwards officially bowed out of the contest Wednesday, speaking from North Carolina. He praised Kerry as having what it takes to be the next President, saying he would do anything within his power to help him beat Bush. During his visit to Rochester last week, Edwards stressed job growth foremost, an important issue throughout upstate New York. The issue is especially salient here in Rochester, where Kodak recently announced plans to lay off 12,000-15,000 workers over the next three years. “I was opposed to NAFTA,” the Freshman Senator from North Carolina said, trying to differentiate himself from opponent John Kerry and President Bush. “We have to have a different trade policy. I think trade has cost millions of Americans jobs…this is a devastating thing for the [Rochester] community.” Kerry voted for NAFTA while Edwards, although he voiced his opposition, was not yet a Senator when the legislation passed. Despite his appeals to workers, UNITE was the only national union that supported Edwards over Kerry. Edwards also discussed his ideas for extended health care, tax cuts for the middle class and an optimistic vision for a unified United States looked up to world-wide. “I want to say to these young people, the causes they are fighting for are so important. I ask all of you to join me in this cause. We can build one America, with one health care system.” Edwards said. “America has acted unilaterally internationally, [but] you and I can build a world where we’re looked up to and respected.” Despite trailing in delegates as well as in the polls, Edwards remained hopeful in his speech, telling the crowd he has been an underdog all his life, “Optimists built this country. I said I wanted to be a lawyer…People said to me, ‘Nobody in your family has ever been to college,'” Edwards said, rallying his supporters while speaking with a slight southern drawl as his voice rose with excitement. “But I beat them and I beat them again and I beat them again. Then I ran for Senate, against the Jesse Helms political machine in North Carolina, and now I’m the Senior Senator for North Carolina. “If you give me a shot at George Bush, I’ll give you back the White House.” His only shot at Bush now is as a vice-presidential candidate on Kerry’s ticket. Many people believe Edwards is the most suitable running mate for Kerry. When asked in a press conference following his speech last week if he had any interest being vice-president, Edwards was quick to reply, “No. I’m only interested in being president and that’s what I’m entirely focused on.” He gracefully bowed out of the remaining primaries Wednesday. “I think Kerry should pick Edwards as his running-mate.” Sophomore Sara Froehlich said. The crowd at the UNITE Union Hall spilled out into a packed television room and main foyer to the building, which was cleared of over 100 people by a fire marshal because of the hazard it posed. “I was in the hallway, but I had to leave because I couldn’t breathe,” Karen Kelly, a Rochester resident, said. “I came to hear Edwards speak because I think he cares more about the economy and jobs than Bush does.” Now that the decision between Kerry and Edwards has been made, the only remaining decision is who to elect in November. “As long as Bush doesn’t win, I’ll be happy.” Sophomore March Ang said.
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