WISCONSINREPORT.COM (01/30/08) - Rival Democratic presidential candidates were issuing statements about John Edwards and the importance of his candidacy even as he was declaring the end to his current effort to win the right to represent Democrats on the November ballot. Edwards called a news conference in New Orleans today and announced pulling out of the primary race. Edwards has been receiving third place votes in all of the primaries to date, and, is making way for remaining primary voters to throw their support to one of the two remaining candidates: Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton.
"It's time for me to step aside so that history can blaze it's path," Edwards said in New Orleans on the site of a Habitat for Humanity home-building project.
"I began my presidential campaign here to remind the country that we, as citizens, and as a government have a moral responsibility to each other," he said. "We must do better if we want to live up to the great promise of this country that we all love so much."
Barack Obama was one of the first fellow candidates to respond to word that Edwards was dropping out.
"John Edwards has spent a lifetime fighting to give voice to the voiceless and hope to the struggling, even when it wasn’t popular to do or covered in the news," Senator Barack Obama said.
"At a time when our politics is too focused on who’s up and who’s down, he made a nation focus again on who matters – the New Orleans child without a home, the West Virginia miner without a job, the families who live in that other America that is not seen or heard or talked about by our leaders in Washington," Obama said about John Edwards.
"John and Elizabeth Edwards have always believed deeply that we can change this – that two Americas can become one, and that our country can rally around this common purpose. So while his campaign may end today, the cause of their lives endures for all of us who still believe that we can achieve that dream of one America," said Obama, who just a couple of days ago was endorsed by Senator Ted Kennedy.
U.S. Senator Hillary Clinton also took the Edwards announcement as an opportunity to voice her opinion about the Edwards campaign, and Elizabeth and John Edwards in particular.
"John Edwards ended his campaign today in the same way he started it - by standing with the people who are too often left behind and nearly always left out of our national debate," Hillary Clinton said.
"John ran with compassion and conviction and lifted this campaign with his deep concern for the daily lives of the American people. That is what this election is about - it's about our people. And John is one of the greatest champions the American people could ask for," Hillary Clinton said.
"I wish John and Elizabeth all the best," Hillary Clinton said. "They have my great personal respect and gratitude. And I know they will continue to fight passionately for the country and the people they love so deeply."
Edwards said he has spoken to both of his Democratic rivals.
"They have both pledged to me, and more importantly through me to America, that they will make ending poverty central to their campaign for the presidency," he said.
"This is the cause of my life. I now have their commitment to engage in this cause," Edwards said.
Edwards, who ran unsuccessfully for the Democratic nomination in 2004 before joining Senator John Kerry, D-Mass., as his vice presidential candidate, had placed poorly in several early contests during his try for the oval office this time around. To the disappointment of Edwards, himself, his family, and 2008 campaign supporters, and primary voters, his candidacy was lagging behind rivals Clinton and Obama.