John and Elizabeth Edwards on 'This Week'


Edwards: Emma Claire and Jack, I've talked to them regularly about this for many months, they've had other kids at school, teachers, talk to them about it.

Even though they're young, they were a lot younger in the last campaign, they understand something more than most kids would about what's involved and I think they're worried, still are, about their mom and dad being gone a lot, which means we have a responsibility to bring them on the campaign trail as much as possible.

Elizabeth Edwards: In terms of parenting, I actually think that this process teaches them a really important lesson, that you have an obligation to your family, of course, but you have an obligation outside your house, as well, to help people, to reach out to try to speak to their needs.

And I actually think that is an important part of our parenting.

Stephanopoulos: Let's get to the debate about how you help people. You are laying out a very ambitious economic agenda. Universal healthcare, housing vouchers.

Edwards: Yes.

Stephanopoulos: Tax cuts for low income people.

Edwards: You're paying attention.

Stephanopoulos: I am paying a lot of attention to this campaign early.

It seems like there's a debate shaping up in the party between candidates like you, who have this grand ambition, want to invest the resources, and the wing of the party that is more wedded to fiscal responsibility and free trade.

And is this the central debate right now in your party?

Edwards: I don't know the answer to that. If I were describing what I think is fundamentally different about the way my campaign will be run and what I suspect, don't know yet, other people's campaigns will be, is that we're not going to wait for the election.

We're not going to wait for the election and the next president of the United States to solve this country's problems. Instead, we're going to ask the American people to engage right now in solving our problems, and I think that's very different.

It's a very proactive, from the ground up kind of campaign.

Stephanopoulos: But that's separate from what you're calling for what you would do as president. What you're calling for is going to cost money.

Edwards: Cost money, absolutely.

Stephanopoulos: Cost a lot of money.

Edwards: Let me speak to that. There is a tension between the desire, which I have myself, of getting us out of this ditch we're in fiscally and, at the same time, doing the things that I believe we need to do to transform America to be effective in the 21st century.

Energy, I talked about energy already, universal healthcare, which you just mentioned just a moment ago, strengthening the middle class, doing things to lift 37 million people out of poverty, all those things cost money.

Stephanopoulos: And that means you have to put deficit reduction on hold.

Edwards: It means you cannot do about the deficit what you'd like to do, that's true.

Stephanopoulos: And you're willing to make that choice.

Edwards: I have said for the last two days, in town hall meetings all across this country, when asked this question, I have said there's a tension between those two. If I were choosing now between which is more important, I think the investments are more important.

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