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Edwards: Poverty a Key Democrat Issue

Good story on John Edwards talking about Dems, the theme of standing up for the poor, and the new Progressive Leadership Action Network...Excerpts from the AP News story below:

"Democrats can build the party's national strength by pushing their policies in statehouses around the country, 2004 vice presidential candidate John Edwards told a group of legislators Tuesday.

Edwards, speaking at a luncheon for a new liberal policy group, said voters will reward lawmakers who advocate a cornerstone of Democratic ideology: fighting poverty and standing up for the poor.

"We know what we believe. We know what we stand for. But the American people need to hear it from us," the former U.S. senator told a group of about 300 at a waterfront convention center.

Edwards' speech highlighted a program put on by the Progressive Leadership Action Network, a group that aims to rival the clout of established right-leaning think tanks such as the American Legislative Exchange Council...

The group is hoping to raise $1.5 million in the next year, and is planning to target its work in a select group of states with legislative sessions in 2006...

Democratic Missouri state Sen. Patrick Dougherty said the new policy group's focus would help legislators feel they aren't alone in critical policy battles at the statehouse.

"It helps us to reach a lot of Americans who, I think, feel forgotten by a lot of politicians," he said.

The Action Network is made up of a research organization and a lobbying group. Officials said they also plan to develop networks of state legislators to exchange ideas and a roster of experts to help further left-leaning policies. The group hopes to expand into all 50 states by 2015.

Edwards praised the new group's focus on growth from the state level and deemed it a worthy effort for Democrats even if it takes time to yield major results.

'I think it can have an immediate impact, but we should view it as a long-term effort,' he said."
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