Elizabeth Edwards holds rally for Vermont Democrats

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(Host) Vermont Democrats got a brief up-close glimpse of their party’s national campaign Tuesday night when the wife of vice-presidential candidate John Edwards attended a rally in Burlington.

VPR’s Steve Zind reports.

(Senator Patrick Leahy) “Not only to welcome Elizabeth Edwards, but promise her that Vermont will go for her husband and John Kerry. Elizabeth, please join us!”

(Zind) It was the first time this season that someone campaigning for the top of the ticket in either party has stopped in Vermont. Elizabeth Edwards was here to attend a Charlotte fundraiser for the Democratic National Committee. Afterward she stopped in downtown Burlington where she spoke to a waiting crowd of enthusiastic party faithful.

(Edwards) “I see a lot of men’s faces, but I’m going to do my women’s bit.”

(Zind) In her remarks Edwards took sharp jabs at the Bush administration on women’s issues. Calling the administration “hostile to women,” Edwards said the president has undermined programs like Head Start and the WIC program for mothers of newborns.

(Edwards) “You go through the different departments and see what he’s done. The truth of the matter is, I can also tell you what John Kerry would do differently but you know the answer to these questions. John Kerry would not take off of the Department of Labor Web site the statistics that show what the wage gap is between men and women. There is a wage gap. This president’s solved the problem. He took it off the Web site and it no longer exists.”

(Zind) Edwards also paid tribute to Howard Dean and the most enthusiastic reception of the evening was for the former Vermont governor.

(Crowd chanting) “Howard! Howard! Howard!”

(Zind) Just a glimpse of Dean elicited chants from the crowd. And when he took the podium, he whipped up the partisan audience with a speech reminiscent of his own presidential campaign.

(Dean) “I see now that George Bush has taken to calling John Kerry a liberal. Horrors, a liberal! You know something about liberals? They actually balance the budget. Not one Republican president has balanced the budget in 34 years. You cannot trust Republicans with your money. Lordy, we need a liberal in the White House!”

(Zind) With the election less than three weeks away, both Dean and Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy say they will campaign for John Kerry in key swing states.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Steve Zind in Burlington.

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