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Edwards argues a case for Bush's defeat

Like the experienced trial lawyer he is, Sen. John Edwards wasted no time in making his case Wednesday morning in Medford.

Speaking before a capacity crowd of about 2,500 at the Medford Armory, the Democratic vice presidential candidate from North Carolina predicted John Kerry would win the Wednesday night debate because President George Bush is out of touch.

He's out of touch with what is happening to our economy, which is why he thinks outsourcing jobs is good for our economy, Edwards said of the Republican incumbent.

He's out of touch with the health care crisis in this country and he continues to fight for big drug companies, big insurance companies, big HMOs, he added. He's out of touch with what's happening in Iraq, which is why he continues to tell the American people that everything is going just fine in Iraq.

The problem, Edwards told the crowd gathered like a jury around him, is that the Bush administration can't fix problems facing the nation because it doesn't acknowledge them.

— With that, he cited evidence in the form of a comment by Treasury Secretary John Snow made Wednesday morning in Ohio that the national budget surplus Bush inherited was a myth.

I wonder if the jobs lost during this administration are a myth, right? Edwards said. Well, I wonder if the 5 million Americans who have lost their health care coverage in the past three years, I wonder if that's a myth. I wonder if the fact that Oregon has the second highest unemployment in the country, I wonder if that's a myth.

I wonder if the 4 million Americans who have fallen into poverty the last four years, I wonder if that is also a myth, he added. What about the fact that folks' income is going down at the same time the cost of virtually everything ' health care, child care, college tuition ' is going up? I wonder if they think that's a myth.

Edwards then predicted the Bush administration will soon be brought back to reality.

Come November 2nd, we're gonna send George Bush out of town and that will not be a myth, he said to a roar of approval from the crowd.

Edwards later noted the Bush administration took a &

36;5 trillion projected surplus and turned it into a very real &

36;3 trillion deficit, creating a &

36;100,000 debt for every family in America.

This is the first president in more than 70 years who has failed to create jobs, he said.

As Edwards held court, he was interrupted numerous times by standing ovations.

Edwards said he agreed with Bush on one crucial point: Judge the president on his record, particularly when it comes to the war in Iraq.

The truth is, all of us are so proud of our men and women in uniform who have served us in Iraq and Afghanistan, Edwards said, prompting the crowd to stand and cheer.

But he took Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney to task for what he believes is a military and foreign policy blunder in Iraq, where more than 1,070 Americans have been killed in the past 18 months.

Not only that, we see Americans being kidnapped, Edwards said. We see beheadings. We see parts of the country under control of the insurgents. The interim prime minister has said it has become a haven for terrorists.

Medford medical doctor Robin Miller, citing the plight of uninsured patients, wondered how the Kerry-Edwards health care plan would directly help the uninsured and how it would be financed.

Edwards said the plan would be based on what works within the existing health care system, which would then be strengthened to cover millions of families without health insurance. It also would help employers offer benefits to workers, he said.

There would be no new government bureaucracy, he said. The way we pay for this is to roll back George Bush's tax cuts for people who make more than &

36;200,000 a year.

In addition, a Kerry-Edwards administration would get rid of corporate subsidies, he said.

It would provide additional tax exemptions for health care, child care and college tuition for those who make less than &

36;100,000 a year, he said.

Medford resident Linda Hildebrand, who is on Medicare, worried about the high cost of prescription drugs.

Edwards said the Democrats would work to reduce the cost by bringing in safe drugs from Canada and negotiating for lower prices stateside.Sean Breen, a junior at Crater High School in Central Point who plans to go to medical school, wondered what is being done about malpractice lawsuits and climbing malpractice premiums.

We believe the solution to this ' George Bush, by the way, has no solution ' is to take lawsuits out of the legal system that don't belong there, Edwards said.

Cases would be reviewed by independent experts who would determine if they are serious enough to be taken to court, he said.

President to appear at the Expo today President George W. Bush will rally in Southern Oregon today, spending the night in Jacksonville.

Gates for the rally will open at 2:45 p.m. at the Jackson County Expo in Central Point.

I would encourage people to come early, said Bryan Platt, chairman of the Jackson County Republican Central Committee. Plan to make a day of it.

Tickets for the rally are still available at Republican headquarters, 25 N. Holly St., Medford, until noon.

The exact time Bush will be speaking hasn't been disclosed, but it should be late in the afternoon.

Democratic vice presidential candidate Sen. John Edwards greets fans at the armory. 2,500 people attended the town hall meeting in which audience members were allowed to ask questions. Edwards then departed for campaign stops in Eugene and Portland. Mail Tribune / Jim Craven - Mail Tribune Jim Craven