Democrats control Congress "because the American people among other things wanted a very different course in Iraq," says former Sen. John Edwards, D-N.C.
He argues that Democratic leaders in Congress are incumbent to not blink in their standoff with President Bush over the $124 troop funding bill, which also included a timeline for the withdrawal of U.S. troops.
"The Congress should stand their ground," Edwards told ABC News. "This president is completely convinced that the Congress will back down and they can't do that."
Edwards, whose campaign will launch TV and Internet ads today urging Congress to continue its push for a U.S. troop withdrawal, said that after the president's veto Tuesday evening, Congress "should resubmit another bill funding for the troops but with a timetable for withdrawal. And they should continue to do that until the president signs it."
Edwards described the president's veto as "thwarting the will of the American people."
Asked about a scenario where both Congress and the White House refused to budge and Democrats in Congress began to take heat for not providing funds for U.S. troops, the former trial lawyer threw himself into the hypothetical, arguing: "They're providing the funding. They're providing the funding. It's the president who won't sign the bill. And the president's the one who has decided the funding -- which is right in front of him -- won't be signed because the Congress won't do what he wants them to do. … The American people support the Congress. They don't support the president."
Edwards made his remarks in a phone interview from Seattle on a wide range of topics for the ABC News Shuffle Podcast.
Edwards also discussed the larger media attention given to the campaigns of his chief rivals for the Democratic presidential nomination, Sens. Hillary Clinton of New York and Barack Obama of Illinois.
"There's something very interesting to the media about a woman running for president who's very well known, an African-American running for president who's very well known," he said. "None of that's surprising to me."
Edwards, however, dismissed their candidacies as possible flashes in the pan.
"Fortunately or unfortunately, I'm seasoned in this. I've been through it" in 2004, when he ran for president, he said. "I lived through the whole [Howard] Dean phenomenon last time, and then when Gen. [Wesley] Clark got into the race it was clearly going to be a Dean or Clark nominee. And that all faded away."
Asked about the controversy surrounding the $400 haircut revealed on his campaign finance reports, Edwards laughed it off, saying, "I got a haircut about a week ago and it was $12. My life would have been a lot easier if I'd been doing that all along."
Edwards called the controversy "a monumental distraction, especially when you're talking about really serious issues like poverty or Iraq."
Discussions of the war took up most of the interview.