downtownexpress.com
Volume 20 Issue 18 | September 14 - 20, 2007

Photo by Frank Franklin II/Associated Press

John Edwards unveiled his anti-terrorism plan last Friday at Pace.

Edwards impresses Downtown crowd with anti-terror plan

By Josh Rogers

Presidential candidate John Edwards unveiled his anti-terrorism program three blocks from the World Trade Center last week and said if elected, he “will never rest” until Osama bin Laden is caught.

Edwards, who spoke at Pace University four days before the sixth anniversary of 9/11, wants to open a Counterterrorism and Intelligence Treaty Organization (CITO), giving countries around the world a formal mechanism to share intelligence against terrorists. He appealed directly to Pace students to use their “21st century minds” to get involved in the fight. Edwards also proposes a “Marshall Corps,” in which Americans would fight poverty around the world, a breeding ground for terrorism, he said.

“George Bush’s ‘war on terror’ approach walked directly — directly into the trap the terrorists set for us,” Edwards said.

His speech was well-received by young and old in the audience of several hundred. Two couples, a pair of law students and senior citizens sitting on opposite sides of the room, said they liked what they heard.

“I have all-along planned to vote for Hillary,” said Barbara Lerner, a senior citizen who lives in Southbridge Towers, across the street from the school. “I am keeping a much more open mind.”

“ I like the way he focused on the young people,” said Lerner, an adjunct communications professor at Pace. “I teach them and I like how he challenged them, talking about sacrifices.”

Edwards scored points with Lerner the day before the event. Her union has been fighting with the school and planned to picket Edwards’ appearance. The campaign said he would not cross a picket line, but the union leaders dropped their plans when Edwards offered to meet with them and hear their concerns.

Lerner’s husband Joe, a member of Community Board 1, said he is supporting Edwards because of the candidate’s health plan, but he also liked the anti-terror policies he heard about Friday. The Lerners in particular liked it when he said, “it’s time to be patriotic about something other than war,” a line that drew enthusiastic applause from the student section of the theater.

“He’s so charismatic talking about his plans that you feel they might actually work,” said Terance DeRosa, 24, one of the law students. He and Laura Tollgaard, 23, both said they were leaning toward Edwards. DeRosa said he would like to see Edwards change his position on same-sex marriage.

Edwards and most of the other major-party candidates in the race oppose legalizing gay marriage. Dennis Kucinich and Mike Gravel, both Democrats, favor it.

Edwards took a veiled swipe at Sen. Hillary Clinton and some of his other primary opponents. “Some running for the Democratic nomination have even argued that the Bush-Cheney approach has made us safer,” he said to applause. “It has not.”

Spokespersons for Clinton’s campaign did not respond to a request for comment. Edwards saved more of his fire for President Bush, though.

“In August of 2001, while George Bush was in Crawford, Texas ignoring memos about the threat of al Qaeda, I authored an op-ed in which I named terrorism as the most vital national security challenge our country would face,” he said.

Edwards was introduced by Kristen Breitweiser, one of the “Jersey girls” who lost a husband on 9/11 and successfully pressured the Bush administration into dropping its opposition to creating the 9/11 Commission.

In response to a question about last month’s fatal fire at the Deutsche Bank building at the W.T.C., Edwards said he would not favor a federal role in the fire investigation unless there was evidence of problems with the investigation.

New York’s Democratic and Republican presidential primaries will be held Feb. 5, 2008.


Josh@DowntownExpress.com





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