Monday, October 25, 2004
Edwards preaches to faithful
Black church offers pulpit
By Greg Korte
Enquirer staff writer
Democratic vice presidential nominee John Edwards went to Sunday services in Bond Hill and rallied supporters in West Dayton - both African-American neighborhoods that need a heavy turnout next week if Sen. John F. Kerry is going to win the White House.
Edwards ended his pep talk to 1,200 supporters at Dunbar High School in Dayton with a line that's become a staple of his "Hope is on the Way" speech: "In our America, the family you're born into - and the color of your skin - will never control your destiny."
And in an eight-minute speech from the pulpit of Bond Hill's Allen Temple A.M.E. Church, Edwards said a Democratic White House is essential to appoint Supreme Court justices who will uphold affirmative action, increase funding for public schools and protect Social Security.
Edwards campaigned Sunday for the same reasons Vice President Dick Cheney visited Xenia and Price Hill Chili a week ago.
The running-mate's job is to energize the base, and African-Americans are even more reliably Democratic than west side Cincinnati Catholics are Republican.
The latest polls show Kerry with a slight edge in Ohio following three weeks of heavy campaigning here.
In the three weeks before President Bush came to Canton to talk about health care on Friday, Kerry visited six times.
Edwards's bus tour went on to Lima and Toledo Sunday; Cheney was scheduled to attend a campaign event in Wilmington today. President Bush will visit four cities in northern Ohio on Wednesday and Thursday, and the Kerry campaign has dropped strong hints that the Massachusetts senator plans to be in Ohio on the eve of Election Day, if not before.
But even when the tops of the ticket aren't visiting, there's a strong surrogate campaign going on - particularly on the Democratic side.
Members of the Congressional Black Caucus met up with Edwards on their tour of the state. R&B singer BeBe Winans opened for Edwards in Dayton, where actors LeVar Burton and Don Cheadle and television's Judge Joe Brown made an appearance.
U.S. Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones carried the message of the day to Ohio Democrats: Be sure to vote in the correct precinct. The U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati overturned a lower court ruling Saturday, letting stand a directive from Ohio Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell that would discard out-of-precinct votes.
"We are going to make sure that if you want to vote, you're going to be able to cast your vote," Edwards said in Dayton. "Democracy is going to work in this election."
Edwards' visit to the Allen Temple on the day of its 180th anniversary had religious and political overtones. City Councilwoman Laketa Cole, a member of Cincinnati's oldest black congregation, followed "All Hail the Power of Jesus' Name" with the exhortation to "Get those Bush-whackers out and bring in a whole new team of leadership!"
To those who would complain that his church shouldn't get involved in political activity, Allen Temple Pastor Donald H. Jordan Sr. had an answer: "I'm not worried about the (nonprofits) law. I'm asking you to support him," he said in introducing Edwards.
Jordan predicted that Edwards would one day be president himself, but Edwards said he could only look as far as a week from Tuesday.
"I have lived the American dream," said the son of a millworker who became a trial lawyer and a U.S. senator from North Carolina. "I didn't make this march alone. The Lord is with me every step of the way, I promise you that."
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