Former Kerry running mate steps into race for 2008 US presidency

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The Independent US

Returning to the theme of America's economic disparity - the topic he made the focus of his campaign two years ago - Democrat John Edwards has formally announced that he will launch a second bid for the White House.

Speaking yesterday in New Orleans, a city still devastated by Hurricane Katrina, the former Democratic senator for North Carolina said his key aims in running for the presidency were to strengthen America's middle class, cut the number of troops in Iraq and lead the fight against global warming. He said America needed to provide health care to every US citizen and cut its dependence on foreign oil.

"This will be a grassroots, ground-up campaign. We will ask people to take action," said Mr Edwards in the city's Lower Ninth Ward, a poor black district largely destroyed by the floods. "I learned a lot during the last campaign, but I have learned a lot since the last campaign. Every American listening to me now knows what needs to be done. We can't wait for someone else to do this for us. There is just too much at stake."

After a strong campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2004, he was picked by John Kerry to be his vice-presidential running mate. His selection was based on Mr Edwards' Southern background and the hope he could win votes in states traditionally hostile to Democratic candidates and also, partly, because of Mr Edwards' youthful, energetic persona.

Though it was always presumed Mr Edwards would make a run for 2008, his announcement yesterday makes him the first senior Democrat to formally do so. His decision was presumably based on a belief that he will need time to build support to opposeHillary Clinton and Barack Obama - both expected to announce soon.

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