Seeking to take advantage of the slow news days after Christmas Mr Edwards launched his campaign in the backyard of a house damaged by Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans last year.
Wearing jeans and an open-necked shirt, Mr Edwards, 53, worked with local youngsters to repair the house, his labour interspersed with interviews on America’s breakfast news programmes.
“I’m here in New Orleans… to announce that I’m a candidate for the presidency of the United States in the election in 2008,” he said. “To show what?s possible when we as Americans, instead of staying home and complaining about somebody else not doing what they?re supposed to, we actually take responsibility and we take action.”
“That’s what?s going to be the basis for my campaign. This campaign will be a grassroots, ground-up campaign, where we ask people to take action.
“It’s not like we don’t know what needs to be done, and this is not rocket science.”
In an early version of the stump speech he will hope to repeat hundreds of times in the coming 22 months, Mr Edwards described an agenda that included leading the fight against global warming, curbing America’s consumption of oil, combating poverty and “providing moral leadership in the world, starting with Iraq”
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