Hoarse Edwards rehearses speech

Edwards, joined here in Milwaukee by his daughter Emma Claire in the "cheesehead," is having a little trouble with his voice.
Edwards, joined here in Milwaukee by his daughter Emma Claire in the "cheesehead," is having a little trouble with his voice.Morry Gash / AP file
/ Source: The Associated Press

Democratic vice presidential candidate John Edwards struggled Monday with a hoarse voice as he returned home after nearly three weeks of heavy campaigning to finish and practice the speech he will deliver to his party’s national convention.

Edwards was still revising and polishing those remarks at his home here as the Democratic National Convention began in Boston. He flies to Boston on Tuesday and will speak Wednesday night.

In his only public appearance Monday, at the North Carolina Biotechnology Center in nearby Research Triangle Park, Edwards talked about the importance of the United States remaining on the leading edge of science and technology

“When we lag, it makes it very difficult for us to compete,” he said in a session with students.

Edwards’ voice was strained, he coughed several times, and took repeated sips of water.

Concerns about his voice prompted campaign officials to postpone an afternoon speech that had been scheduled for the North Carolina Agriculture and Technology State University in Greensboro, N.C.

Aides said Edwards was cutting back on his speaking as a precaution, and said that the hoarseness in his voice appeared to be temporary.

Although Edwards talked about advances in biotechnical research and other scientific and medical issues, the first question dealt with how he and running mate John Kerry would deal with a Republican Congress if elected.

“I might have known we’d get to politics immediately,” he said. “In order for the president of the United States to get something done, that president has to be able to work across the aisle. The real issue is governing, governing in a way that actually makes the country better.”

He and Kerry “already have relationships in Congress,” he said.

Opposed to human cloning
On medical issues, he said both he and Kerry oppose human cloning but that policymakers “have to make decisions on how far we can go” in such sensitive areas.

Edwards wrote most of his own speech in longhand on yellow legal pads, and has been through about 30 drafts, the official said. He has also practiced it several time in hotel rooms, mostly alone but once in front of his wife Elizabeth, the official said.

Edwards’ address will be about 20 minutes and will revisit Edwards’ contention, made in his own unsuccessful presidential campaign, that there are “two Americas,” one for the rich, one for everyone else, the official said.

The official said Kerry gave Edwards considerable leeway on what to say, although there are Kerry advisers going over drafts of Edwards’ address to make sure the two speeches are in sync. Edwards speech will be mostly upbeat, although he will criticize Bush administration policy in Iraq, the official said.

Edwards returned here late Sunday after campaigning nearly nonstop since Kerry named him to the ticket in early July.

During that time, Edwards also has raised about $5 million for the Kerry-Edwards campaign, including $600,000 raised on Sunday in a final fund-raiser in San Antonio Texas, deep in President Bush’s territory.

Republican Sen. John Cornyn, chair of President Bush’s campaign in Texas, said Edwards’ “liberal views and the wealthy personal injury lawyers that fund his campaign” were out of touch with voters in the state.

“Texas values stand in stark contrast to the so-called values of the Kerry ticket,” he said.