Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards waged a grip-and-grits tour of his birth state Friday, shaking hands and stressing his Southern roots in the final weekend before Tuesday’s South Carolina primary.
He urged diners at a packed restaurant in Aiken to “grab every person you can and get to the polls on Tuesday.”
“I need to make sure that you vote, that your friends and your neighbors vote,” Edwards told the breakfast crowd chowing down bacon, eggs and cheese grits at a Shoney’s restaurant.
Edwards, who was born in South Carolina and represents North Carolina in the Senate, highlighted his southern heritage as he courted voters ahead of the state’s Democratic primary election, which he must win to maintain a viable national candidacy.
“I’m from here. I know what matters to people in the South,” he said.
Edwards and retired Gen. Wesley Clark of Arkansas are the only Southerners running in the first-in-the-South primary — one of seven nominating contests on Tuesday.
'He's one of us'
“He’s one of us. He believes that America works best when it works for all of us,” Democratic state Rep. Bill Clyburn said as he introduced Edwards at the diner. “He believes that America works best when it works for all of us.”
Edwards urged South Carolinians to help him end what he describes as a government of two Americas — one for privileged insiders, and one for everybody else.
“This government, this democracy, does not belong to that crowd in Washington, the lobbyists,” he said. “It belongs to you.”.
His message appealed to Grace DeArmitt, an Aiken nanny who said she would vote for Edwards.
“He has fresh ideas. He really seems sincere,” DeArmitt said. “He doesn’t seem phony. In this day and age, we need somebody like that.”
Edwards planned several more rallies in South Carolina on Friday before heading to New Mexico, one of seven states voting Tuesday.