In a July 10 Washington Post article, staff writer Anne E. Kornblut wrote that Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards "is battling back the 'three H's' that have dogged his campaign -- expensive haircuts, a lavish new house and a stint working for a hedge fund," adding: "Now, he is trying to put emphasis on a 'P' -- his new poverty tour across the South and the Midwest." Kornblut's suggestion, however, that Edwards' "emphasis" on poverty is intended to distract from the "three H's" is baseless -- poverty has been a signature issue of Edwards' 2008 presidential campaign, as it was during his 2004 campaign. Kornblut herself reported on July 25, 2006, while she was with The New York Times, that Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) "did not, however, go as far down the populist path as other possible presidential candidates, in particular Senator John Edwards, who is focused almost exclusively on poverty as he campaigns in early primary voting states."
On February 4, 2005, the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill announced the creation of a "Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity that will be led by former U.S. Senator and vice presidential candidate John Edwards." During the 2004 Democratic National Convention, then-vice presidential candidate Edwards said: "We can also do something about 35 million Americans who live in poverty every day. And here's why we shouldn't just talk about, but do something about the millions of Americans who live in poverty: because it is wrong. And we have a moral responsibility to lift those families up."
According to the Post article:
John Edwards is battling back the "three H's" that have dogged his campaign -- expensive haircuts, a lavish new house and a stint working for a hedge fund.
Now, he is trying to put emphasis on a "P" -- his new poverty tour across the South and the Midwest.
Beginning next Sunday night with a stop in New Orleans's Ninth Ward, Edwards, the former senator from North Carolina, will "take a break from his normal campaign schedule of events and take the campaign on the road for three days, through eight states and 12 towns and cities, in order to bring attention to the 37 million Americans living in poverty," according to an official campaign statement. His campaign manager, former congressman David E. Bonior, held a conference call yesterday morning to sketch out the details of the trip, which the campaign steadfastly insists is not aimed at improving his political standing but instead designed solely to bring the issue of poverty front and center in the presidential race.
"We want to force the issue into the debate," Bonior said. Asked by a reporter to identify the targets of the message, Bonior said, "It's aimed, quite honestly, at you."
As Media Matters for America has documented (here, here, and here), the media have extensively scrutinized Edwards' haircuts, his North Carolina estate, and his brief stint as an adviser to a hedge fund, often baselessly suggesting that they conflict with his anti-poverty campaigning. Kornblut's use of the term "three H's" mimics a June 19 Politico article by chief political correspondent Mike Allen and senior political writer Ben Smith, which reported that "Edwards has never really gotten over the scalding publicity for what Republicans and his Democratic opponents call 'the three h's' -- the haircut that cost $400, his huge house and his lucrative involvement with a hedge fund." Allen and Smith did not cite any specific Republicans or Democrats using the term, while Kornblut did not attribute the term to anybody.