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Edwards Under Fire

Posted: 10-09-2004 05:58 PM
by Iris
Edwards Under Fire
GOP groups poised to unleash assault Dems VP candidate, a former trial lawyer
By VIVECA NOVAK

Saturday, Oct. 09, 2004
A new wave of Republican attack ads is coming this week, but this time their target is the No. 2 man on the Democratic ticket, John Edwards. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the November Fund, a new 527 group dedicated to attacking Edwards, a former plaintiffs' lawyer, and "lawsuit abuse," will this week launch an ad campaign that portrays him as a cause of the crisis in the medical system. "Doctors are leaving, hospitals are closing, health care costs are skyrocketing at an alarming rate," says one direct-mail piece. "Tell Senator Kerry and Senator Edwards that it is time to support common sense lawsuit abuse reform." The Chamber is focusing on eight battleground states with a "very aggressive mail, phone and internet campaign," says its national political director Bill Miller. The campaign is aimed at independent women with children, who are presumed to be more receptive to health care issues. Miller declined to say how much it will spend other than "in the millions."

The November Fund, started in August by former GOP Senator Bill Brock and former Ronald Reagan White House aide Craig Fuller, begins running TV ads (which can't, by law, mention Edwards' name) and newspaper and direct-mail pieces (which can) in four states this week. "Kerry's selection of Edwards was such an arrogant act, such an in-your-face thing that we had to do something," says Brock. The Fund won't have to disclose its funding sources or how much it has raised until Friday, but Brock said the group had more than $5 million "last time I looked," starting with $500,000 from the Chamber.

Edwards has always defended his work by saying he stood up for the little guy against big business and doctors who commit malpractice. His clients were almost all sympathetic figures, and he won more than $200 million for them. And thereĆ­s no assurance the new ads will turn voters against him. A Gallup poll in July found that 67% thought that Edwards' experience as a trial lawyer would be a strength, not a weakness. But he and his fellow trial lawyers, who have given big to the Kerry campaign, may need all their silver-tongued skills to parry the latest attacks.

http://www.time.com/time/election2004/a ... s_election