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Cheney, Edwards and the Cleveland Test

October 6, 2004

Speaking of Cleveland, moderator Gwen Ifill's question about the fate of cities like Cleveland was one of the most telling moments of the Cheney-Edwards encounter.
Ifill highlighted the woes of Cleveland to ask the candidates address economic and quality of life issues facing the nation. And John Edwards proceeded to use the example of Cleveland to draw the sharpest contrast in the debate.
IFILL: "What can you tell the people of Cleveland, or people of cities like Cleveland, that your administration will do to better their lives?"
Cheney's inability to address and disinterest in discussing domestic issues of jobs, poverty, health care and more was obvious - and damning:
CHENEY: "...To do that, we have to make America the best place in the world to do business. And that means we've got to deal effectively with tax policy. We've got to reduce the litigation costs that are built into our society. We've got to provide the adequate medical care and make certain that we can, in fact, create the opportunities that are vital to that process. I'd zero in, in particular, on education. I think the most important thing we can do is have a first-class public school system. I'm a product of public schools..."
Edwards immediately played to his strength and clearly differentiated the Kerry ticket from President Bush:
EDWARDS: "Here's what's happened: In the time that they have been in office, in the last four years, 1.6 million private sector jobs have been lost, 2.7 million manufacturing jobs have been lost. And it's had real consequences in places like Cleveland.
Cleveland is a wonderful, distinguished city that's done a lot of great things, but it has the highest poverty rate in the country. One out of almost two children in Cleveland are now living in poverty.
During the time that the vice president and the president have been in office, 4 million more Americans have fallen into poverty.
During the time that the vice president and the president have been in office, 4 million more Americans have fallen into poverty.
And what the most striking and startling thing is, they are the first presidency in 70 years -- and I'm talking Democrats, Republican, presidents who led us through World War, through the Korean War, the Vietnam War, Cold War -- every one of them created jobs until this president.
We have to do better. We have a plan. We're going to get rid of -- by the way, they're for outsourcing jobs. I want to make sure people hear that, the fundamental difference with us. The administration says over and over that the outsourcing of millions of American jobs is good. We're against it.
We want to get rid of tax cuts for companies sending jobs overseas. We want to balance this budget, get back to fiscal responsibility. And we want to invest in the creative, innovative jobs of the future..."
This exchange showed a vice president and an administration out of touch and bereft of ideas on the economy. On November 2, we should all remember Cleveland.


Jon Perr
Jon Perr is a technology marketing consultant and product strategist who writes about American politics and public policy.

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