John Edwards Visits Oklahoma For Fundraiser

Saturday, September 1st 2007, 7:06 pm
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Democratic presidential hopeful John Edwards visited Oklahoma on Saturday, stressing his rural roots while noting the state ``is a natural place for me to do well.''

Edwards attended an afternoon fundraiser at the home of Reggie and Rachelle Whitten in suburban Edmond and said he planned to travel to Iowa later in the day. Tickets for the fundraiser cost $500 and $1,000.

Edwards spokeswoman Colleen Murray said that it wasn't immediately known how many people attended the event or how much money was raised for Edwards' campaign.

``I have a lot of supporters in Oklahoma in general,'' Edwards told The Associated Press during a telephone interview. ``...It's a chance to say thank you to everyone in Oklahoma who supports me.''

Edwards, a former one-term U.S. senator from North Carolina, finished a close second behind Wesley Clark in Oklahoma's 2004 Democratic presidential primary before going on to become the party's vice-presidential nominee.

Edwards, who trails the Democrat front-runners, Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York and Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois, in the polls, has said it's important that he fare well in primaries in rural states. States with elections on the Feb. 5 super primary include Alabama, Arkansas, Missouri and Oklahoma.

Oklahoma has not voted for a Democrat in a presidential election since Lyndon Johnson in 1964, but Edwards said ``the right Democrat'' could carry the state, ``someone like me who comes from a rural area in the South and understands how important a state like Oklahoma is, all parts of Oklahoma, not just Tulsa and Oklahoma City, but also the smaller communities.''

Before arriving in Oklahoma, Edwards said he would join other Democrats in vowing to skip campaigning states that break party rules by holding early primaries. Clinton and Obama made similar announcements on Saturday.

Their decision is a blow to Florida, which had moved its primary to Jan. 29, and Michigan, where the Legislature has voted to push its primary to Jan. 15, and boosts the primacy of four early voting states _ Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina.

Party rules for this cycle have caucuses set for Iowa on Jan. 14 and Nevada on Jan. 19, followed by primaries in New Hampshire on Jan. 22 and South Carolina on Jan. 29.

Edwards said the eagerness of party officials in Florida and Michigan is ``understandable'' because ``there are good people in those states who want their voice to be heard as soon as possible.''

But he said the system is set up in its current fashion for a good reason.

``We have a clear way of deciding who the nominee should be and it's structured in a way that smaller states and grassroots states have a voice,'' he said. ``It's not about how much money you spend in those states, it's about substance.''

In those states, ``you get a chance to see voters up close ... and they ask you hard questions. That's how the determination should be made on who should be president of the United States.''

Edwards said he had little reaction to the announcement made Saturday by Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho, that he is resigning after the disclosure that he pleaded guilty to a reduced charge following his arrest during a sex sting in a Minneapolis airport men's room.

``I think the whole situation is very sad,'' Edwards said. ``I really don't have anything much to say other than that.''