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Edwards touts prominent gay supporters

Elizabeth Edwards (r) talks about her husband, presidential hopeful John Edwards, D-N.C.
Elizabeth Edwards (r) talks about her husband, presidential hopeful John Edwards, D-N.C.
/ Source: The Associated Press

Democrat John Edwards is touting prominent gay supporters who have signed on to his presidential campaign, including a former adviser to President Clinton.

Blogger David Mixner is one of 25 people listed on a news release that the Edwards campaign distributed Tuesday, along with a statement from the candidate saying he is honored to have the backing of so many respected gay leaders.

"They work hard every day to make our country a better place and I am proud to join with them to fight for equal rights for all Americans," Edwards said.

Competition for the gay vote
Edwards is making a push for gay support in the competitive Democratic presidential primary. In February, he came out in support of legislation that would end the "don't ask, don't tell" policy that prevents people who are openly gay from serving in the military.

But Edwards has competition for the gay community's support - Barack Obama's campaign has also said he is opposed to "don't ask, don't tell," as has Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's campaign. She also told the Human Rights Campaign last month that she wants a partnership with gays if elected president.

Clinton's husband, Bill, was president when the Pentagon instituted the "don't ask, don't tell" policy, which says gays may serve in the military only if they keep their sexual orientation private. The policy was a compromise that Clinton was forced to accept.

"Don't ask, don't tell" created a rift between President Clinton and Mixner, who raised millions for him among gay and lesbian voters but was later arrested in front of the White House in a protest of the policy. The two later said they patched up their differences and agreed to disagree on the administration's policy.

Politics of Iraq
Mixner said he's supporting Edwards because he agrees with his position against the Iraq war and believes he would bring the troops home quickly.

Mixner said the Democratic candidates are roughly equal on gay rights issues and he also likes Edwards' focus on poverty and his detailed policy positions.

"I have supported the Clintons in every race they have run in the last 33 years since Bill Clinton ran for Congress up to Hillary's two Senate campaigns," said Mixner, who lives in upstate New York. "But I am baffled and concerned and frustrated with her position on the war."

Mixner said he hadn't told Hillary Clinton that he was changing allegiances, but his position has been clear on his blog.

"One of the problems of that campaign is that it's very hard to gain access if you don't have a lot of money or aren't in the inner circle or I would have talked to her directly," he said.

The Clinton campaign did not respond to a request for comment.