Edwards attacks Bush policies in college appearance

Tuesday, December 9th 2003, 12:00 am

By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ North Carolina Sen. John Edwards was cheered by college students Monday night when he vowed to fight powerful economic interests if elected president.

The Democratic presidential candidate, in a town hall meeting at Oklahoma City University, said it makes no sense for American companies to get tax breaks when they ship jobs overseas.

``What is that all about? That's crazy,'' said Edwards, who said he would like to become the president who had ``the most vigorous enforcement of antitrust laws since Teddy Roosevelt.''

He also said he favored a law that would ban campaign contributions from lobbyists representing powerful interests that he said are dictating President Bush's policies.

He said health care legislation pushed by the Bush administration harms the financial health of the middle class and rewards drug companies and HMOs with billions of dollars.

Edwards, an attorney, also was sharply critical of Bush's foreign policy and education initiatives.

He said Bush's unilateral approach to foreign policy started long before the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and the war in Iraq.

``We have no chance of being successful in the war on terrorism without the cooperation of many countries around the world,'' Edwards said.

On education, he said the administration's No Child Left Behind Act was grossly underfunded and said Bush was cutting college loans and grants at a time when they are most needed.

Although he voted for the Patriot Act, the 50-year-old Edwards said that as president he would repeal portions of the law that can lead to an American citizen being arrested and detained without seeing an attorney.

``That sounds familiar to me, but it's not America,'' said Edwards, who advocated an independent watchdog agency to protect the civil liberties of citizens.

Edwards was making his 11th visit to the state, more than any other candidate on Oklahoma's Feb. 3 presidential primary ballot.

He has said Oklahoma will play a vital role in his strategy to capture the nomination and face Republican incumbent George W. Bush.

Edwards plans to visit a senior adult day care enter in Norman on Tuesday.

Nine candidates are vying for votes in Oklahoma in the Democratic primary.

The others are Wesley Clark, Howard Dean, Dick Gephardt, John Kerry, Dennis Kucinich, Lyndon H. LaRouche Jr., Joe Lieberman and Al Sharpton.

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