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Press Release - Upon Conclusion Of Road To One America Tour, Edwards Challenges Bush To Visit Impoverished Areas Of The Country

July 19, 2007

Chapel Hill, North Carolina – Senator John Edwards today sent a letter to President Bush challenging the president to join him on a tour of places in America that are too often ignored and to talk to Americans who are working hard, but still living in poverty. Yesterday, Edwards concluded a three-day, eight-state "Road to One America" tour to shine a bright spotlight on the issue of poverty in America.

The text of the letter is below:

July 19, 2007

President George W. Bush

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue

Washington, DC 20400

Dear Mr. President:

Earlier this week, I went on a journey that started in New Orleans, went through the Mississippi Delta, Memphis, Cleveland, Youngstown, Pittsburgh, Virginia and ended in Prestonsburg, Kentucky. At every stop, I met with incredible people who are working hard every day and still living in poverty. I did it to try to help the rest of the country hear the voices of people who are often forgotten -- people living in poverty and on the losing end of economic unfairness. I did it to show that we can solve these problems and there is hope.

Mr. President, that what's true leaders do, they lead with big, bold ideas that actually solve problems. They do not wait to be told about problems that stare them in the face, they never follow, and they should never have to wait for a convenient time to address the incredible challenges that face so many hard-working families in this nation.

As you approach your final days in office, you have a chance to finally stand up and lead on this important issue. However, unless you choose to lead and start helping solve poverty in America, the next 550 days of your presidency will all but ensure that the 37 million Americans who wake up in poverty today will only grow. If you choose to do nothing on poverty, the next 550 days of your presidency will only ensure that the more than 5 million Americans who have fallen into poverty during your presidency will only grow.

But it's not too late to change course. It's never too late to do the right thing and lead.

So today, I am writing to challenge you to come with me and visit the places in America that are too often ignored -- places like Marks, Mississippi, West Helena, Arkansas, Wise, Virginia and Whitesburg, Kentucky -- and expose yourself to the harsh realities of poverty in America, and how much worse American families are under your presidency. Go to the cities and towns where I have gone. See and talk to the good and decent Americans with amazing character who struggle with incredible poverty. Incredible poverty, Mr. President, which has only worsened every day over the last 7 years because of the failure of your leadership and the terrible effects your policies have had on millions of families. And see how the people of New Orleans are still struggling nearly two years after Hurricane Katrina, and see how your administration's indifference to this problem has only made the problem worse.

I can only hope that if you stop and listen to the stories of the men and women who work hard and are paid poverty wages -- and sometimes even cheated out of those -- without health care or decent schools for their children, I believe you will agree with me that America must act and it must act now.

Poverty is not an intractable problem. There are solutions that work. We can reward work and create opportunity with lower taxes for working families, stronger unions, more job and affordable housing opportunities, better schools and stronger families.

Poverty is not a New Orleans problem, a Pittsburgh problem or an Appalachia problem. It is an American problem. And it's America's responsibility. And America needs a president who will lead on this issue, not turn his back on 37 million forgotten Americans.

The 37 million Americans living in poverty and the hundreds of millions of others who know in their hearts that America can do better deserve a president who will lead on this issue.

Mr. President, don't wait for the next hurricane. The time to act is now.


John Edwards

John Edwards, Press Release - Upon Conclusion Of Road To One America Tour, Edwards Challenges Bush To Visit Impoverished Areas Of The Country Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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