Profile: John Edwards

January 3, 2008 6:25:11 PM PST
Political profile of candidate John EdwardsJOHN EDWARDS, Democrat
Former U.S. senator from North Carolina
Age 54

EDUCATION: North Carolina State University, 1974; University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Law, 1977.

LEGAL CAREER: Attorney, 1978-1998; Moved to Raleigh in 1981 and began specializing in personal injury cases; won at least $152 million for clients, including the state's largest personal-injury verdict at the time

  • $25 million in compensatory damages for a 9-year-old girl disemboweled by a faulty pool drain; served as director of the Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill until declaring he would run again for the presidency.

    POLITICAL CAREER: Elected to the U.S. Senate seat in 1998 in his first run for public office; served in Senate 1998-2004; unsuccessfully sought Democratic Party presidential nomination in 2004; selected as running mate by nominee John Kerry.

    FAMILY: Wife, Elizabeth; daughters Cate, 25, and Emma Claire, 8; son Jack, 6. The Edwards' 16-year-old son Wade died in a car accident in 1996.


    • Favors abortion rights.

    • Supports universal preschool for four-year-olds.
    • Would change or replace No Child Left Behind.
    • On post-secondary education: "Any young person in America who's willing to work when they're in college
    • we pay for their tuition and books at a state university or community college."

    • Supports same-sex civil unions short of marriage.
    • Does not support same-sex marriage.
    • Opposes constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.

    • Supports $13 billion-a-year energy fund to double Energy Department's budget for efficiency and renewable energy, accelerate clean energy technologies, encourage consumers to buy efficient products and help workers move out of jobs in polluting industries.
    • Seeks to eliminate oil company subsidies and establish cap-and-trade system requiring companies to pay for emitting pollution.
    • Supports tougher vehicle fuel efficiency standards.
    • Says people must make sacrifices in energy use, including changing vehicles they drive.
    • As senator, missed vote on 2003 bill.

    • As North Carolina senator, voted for ban on assault-type weapons and to require background checks at gun shows.

    • Supports mandatory universal coverage by expanding system of federal health insurance and family tax credits, and by imposing requirements on employers, insurance companies and individuals.
    • Would increase taxes on wealthier families to pay for program's cost of up to $120 billion a year.

    • Supports path to citizenship for illegal immigrants who speak English and meet other conditions.

    • IRAQ:
    • Wants immediate withdrawal of as many as 50,000 troops and full withdrawal within 10 months.
    • Would leave no combat troops in Iraq, but small numbers nearby to engage terrorists.
    • Voted in favor of Iraq war authorization, but says he would not vote that way again.

    • Wants to subject the portion of income over about $200,000 to Social Security taxes, while keeping the portion of income between $97,500 and $200,000 free of it.

    • TAXES:
    • Would let some of Bush's tax cuts expire in 2010 as scheduled, in effect raising taxes on wealthier people to help pay for programs.
    • For middle and low-income people, would set up tax-free savings accounts and have government match the first $500 in savings, expand earned-income and child and dependent care tax credits, and exempt the first $250 of investment income from capital gains taxes.
    • Tax cuts to cost $25 billion a year.
    • Would raise rate on capital gains tax to 28 percent from 15 percent for those making over $250,000.
  • Had 24 percent support in Dec. 31st Des Moines Register Iowa Poll.