01.03.2008 - John performed on Jan 2, 2008 at a John Edwards rally in Des Moines, IA. The solo acoustic set list for the evening was Pink Houses, Minutes to Memories, To Washington, Small Town and Our Country.
Please click the links below to see coverage of the event
January 3, 2008--John Edwards finished up a 36-hour campaign marathon Wednesday night with a little help from a rock-and-roll legend. John Mellencamp pumped up the crowd for Edwards last night at the Val Air Ballroom in West Des Moines.
The singer performed for the crowd of about 3,000 before introducing Edwards and his family. "For those of you who don't know what to do tomorrow night, in the back of the room, you can find out. Go to the caucus, stand up, speak out, change this country, show what you're made of, show what your courage is, show what your character is. Let's make America a country that all of us are proud of," Edwards told his crowd of supporters.
In recent weeks, Edwards has sharpened his attacks on corporate America, suggesting he'll fight the special interests in Washington better than any of the other candidates.
Mellencamp Rallies 'God's Country' To Edwards' Side
WEST DES MOINES, Iowa—Presidential hopeful John Edwards capped a 36-hour, 16-stop tour of Iowa on Wednesday by declaring at a rock concert that he was the only candidate who could fight corporate greed and represent the common American worker.
With Iowa’s first-in-the-nation caucuses just hours away, the former Democratic senator from North Carolina held a large rally as the topper of his “Marathon for the Middle Class” tour and used rocker John Mellencamp as a final lure to engage the electorate.
“Corporate greed is robbing our children of the promise of America and it is time for us to fight back,” Edwards told a raucous crowd. “And right here, beginning in the heartland of America, here in Iowa, you’re going to rise up, you’re going to stand up, you’re going to speak up and you’re going to say to America, ‘Enough is enough, we want our country back, we want our democracy back, we are better than this.’”
After performing five of his songs, many with political undertones, Mellencamp introduced Edwards’ family at the Val Air Ballroom in West Des Moines and said he’s known Edwards for several years and believes he’s the best candidate for president.
“He’s always said the right things to me,” Mellencamp said.
During a solo performance of “Pink Houses,” the crowd cheered wildly when Mellencamp sang a line from the song: “Boy, you’re gonna’ be president.”
Introducing her husband, Elizabeth Edwards declared Mellencamp was the “musical voice of the working man of this country,” and said her husband was the “political voice of the working man of this country.”
In November, Mellencamp brought Edwards out on stage during a concert in Des Moines where Edwards was jeered for a few minutes by concertgoers who clearly weren’t interested in listening to a political speech.
But none of that was evident Wednesday’s event, which was geared more as an Edwards event where Mellencamp also happened to be performing.
“I felt like that was very rude at that concert,” declared Leslie Irvin, a 54-year-old self-employed Edwards supporter who saw the November show and was also at Wednesday’s event, later correctly predicting: “But you won’t see that tonight.”
Indeed, the crowd, which ranged from teenagers to 50-something Mellencamp addicts, still seemed more enthused about the politician than the performer.
Edwards and Mellencamp say they are friends and the singer is endorsing Edwards’ run for president, which has relied heavily on his theme of fighting corporate America in favor of the interests of the working class.
One of Edwards’ main musical campaign themes is Mellencamp’s song, “Our Country,” a song Mellencamp sang Wednesday night and one he also has sold to auto giant Chevy for TV commercials.
It isn’t the first time a popular Edwards supporter has had close ties to the corporate world he so steadfastly blasts on the campaign trail.
Over the summer, seven-time Tour de France champ and cancer survivor Lance Armstrong rode his bike side-by-side with Edwards during a statewide bike tour. But he disagreed with the former North Carolina senator about whether drug companies should be at the negotiating table when it comes to developing and enacting a national health care plan, something Edwards opposes.
Among Armstrong’s biggest corporate sponsors is Bristol-Myers Squibb, a pharmaceutical company that he has credited with helping save his life.
“I don’t believe you can sit at a table and negotiate with drug companies, insurance companies, oil companies and hope that they will voluntarily give their power away,” Edwards said. “We will get their power out of their hands when we take their power away from them.”
Posted by Frank James on January 3, 2008 9:21 AM
The Democratic presidential hopeful John Edwards rallied supporters last night with a fiery speech and a performance by rock star John Mellencamp.With the end of a year of campaigning less than 24 hours away, more than 3,000 people braved the cold night air and packed into the Val Air ballroom outside Des Moines.
The former North Carolina senator's rhetoric chimed well with the melodies of Mellencamp - an Indiana singer who echoes Edwards' populist, everyman tone.
Coming off a 36-hour marathon of non-stop campaigning, Edwards gave a slightly shortened version of his standard stump speech that nevertheless had the audience applauding louder than they did for the rock star. Edwards stuck to the anti-corporate rhetoric that has earned him rural and union support but opened him to criticism that he's too angry to get things done in Washington.
"Corporate greed is robbing our children of the promise of America and it is time for us to fight back, it is time for us to stand up," he said to cheers. "Tomorrow night, you need to send a fighter and a warrior into that arena on your behalf."
Edwards also unleashed a fresh line of attack on his rivals for the Democratic nomination, senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. "You know the difference between somebody for whom this is academic, philosophical or political, and someone who is speaking from here," he said, pointing to his heart.
"If it is political and academic, when the going gets rough they will walk away."
Mellencamp performed a solo acoustic set, offering renditions of five hit songs that described life in small-town America, like the mill town in which Edwards grew up. At one point, he led the audience in a chorus: "From the east coast, to the west coast, down the Dixie highway, back home. This is our country."
For the most part Mellencamp refrained from overt political speech, although he did indulge in a dig at the Bush administration. "They were going to pay for this war with oil profits, isn't that what they said," he said, to cheers.
Despite the star power, the majority of the audience said they showed up for Edwards rather than the rock concert. Dan Malloy, a Des Moines resident and former military policeman (MP) in Iowa's national guard, said he thought Edwards was the best candidate for veterans, and more sincere than Obama.
"There's one thing about being an MP: you can pretty much tell when someone is straight laced or bullshitting you," he said. "He seems to be honest."
But Tod Miller, a Des Moines IT worker who was torn between the candidates, said Edwards' tone threatened to turn him off. "I like the fresh message, but he also scares me," he said. "I work for corporate America, and I'm here to reconcile my fears with my job."
By CHARLES BABINGTON
Associated Press Writer
Article includes photo
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - John Edwards capped his Iowa transformation from 2004's sunny optimist to 2008's fiery populist Wednesday night, urging a caucus-eve crowd of 3,000 to take back ``our democracy'' from greedy corporations.
With rock musician John Mellencamp's free concert helping fill the Val-Air Ballroom, the former North Carolina senator gave an especially spirited version of his stump speech, tapping a vein of middle-class resentment and worry.
``Corporate greed is robbing our children of the promise of America,'' Edwards said to frequent cheers. ``It is time for us to fight back.''
Edwards is locked in a tight race with fellow Democrats Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama in Thursday night's Iowa caucus, the first voting of the 2008 presidential election. No candidate has spent more time in Iowa, and a strong finish here is crucial to his candidacy.
In recent weeks, Edwards has sharpened his attacks on big oil, pharmaceutical and insurance companies, suggesting he would fight them far more ferociously than would Obama or Clinton. In a modified version of his 2004 ``Two Americas'' speech, he said 37 million Americans worry each day about how to feed and clothe their families because they live in poverty.
``In America, children living on the streets while the chairmen and CEOs of major companies make millions of dollars?'' he asked incredulously. He vowed to make health insurance affordable for all Americans and to reduce dependence on foreign oil.
The night rally, which opened with a half-dozen songs by Mellencamp - including ``This is Our Country,'' the Edwards campaign theme song - concluded a 36-hour campaign blitz by Edwards and his wife, Elizabeth. Most stops were in much smaller venues than the Val-Air, but each featured Edwards' stinging rebuke of corporate America.
He likened himself to Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman, saying all of them took on special interests such as ``the big trusts.''
At the Thursday caucus, he told his Val-Air audience, ``you're going to say 'Enough is enough, we want our country back, we want our democracy back.'''
Many in the ballroom cheered.
``I think he's got the right stuff,'' said Phil Carleson, 56, a high school history teacher. He said Edwards' charisma reminds him of John F. Kennedy and Bill Clinton.
Shane Harshbarger, 36, said his first choice is New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, but Edwards will be his backup if Richardson can't muster the necessary 15 percent at the Democratic caucus Harshbarger will attend in Des Moines.
Edwards ``is a little angry, but I'll take it,'' Harshbarger said. ``I like the antiestablishment'' message, he said, ``because we've had too much establishment. That's Hillary's problem.''
Mellencamp opened the concert with ``Ain't That America,'' and sang another tune with improvised lyrics that poked fun at President Bush's Iraq and domestic policies.