On a day when Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama were in central Iowa arguing over who would be more experienced on the economy, John Edwards brought a pair of near-60 rock ’n’ rollers to Davenport, arguing he’s the real agent for change.
Jackson Browne and Bonnie Raitt joined Edwards today for the first of a two-day swing through the state. At Davenport North High School’s auditorium, the pair played for about 25 minutes, sprinkling their set with occasional praise for Edwards before giving way to his more standard political set.
“We had a choice, and we’re here on purpose. You can count on it,” Raitt told the crowd of a few hundred, which included scores of kids who came over from the high school.
As Browne and Raitt sat on stools at the edge of the stage, Edwards drew comparisons between himself and Clinton on several fronts. From the war in Iraq, dealing with Iran and the approach to dealing with drug and insurance companies, the former North Carolina senator portrayed himself as the candidate most likely to shake up Washington, D.C.
“We do actually agree that this election is about change and not about the status quo, but I believe you defend the system in Washington, you’re for the status quo,” Edwards told reporters after the event. “If you want to continue the occupation in Iraq, you’re for the status quo, and if you’re not willing to stand up to Bush and Cheney on Iran, that’s the status quo.”
Edwards criticized Clinton for voting in September for a nonbinding measure urging the administration to declare Iran’s Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization, saying it plays into the White House’s hand. However, he declined to say afterward whether he thinks the organization is a terrorist group. Obama, who also has criticized Clinton over the vote has said he thinks the revolutionary guard is a terrorist organization.
Browne said afterward that he was drawn to Edwards because of his opposition to the expansion of nuclear power, but he said he is campaigning for him because he’s the most progressive candidate.
Browne and Raitt were original members of the group that launched the No Nukes concerts in New York City in 1979. The concerts are considered ground-breaking grassroots events that fused rock music and nuclear politics.
Tornia Hill, a Muscatine woman who was walking out of the hall with an Edwards poster signed by the candidate and the two musicians, said she would caucus for Edwards, as she did in 2004.
“It’s awesome. I don’t know if it drew more people, but I hope it did. They’re both great musicians,” she said. Hill said she had seen both in concert — Raitt in Iowa City in 2004 and Browne in 1980.
Edwards, Browne and Raitt were headed to Iowa City and Cedar Rapids for two other events today, with their tour to wrap up with visits to Grinnell and Des Moines Tuesday.