PRESS RELEASE from John Edwards for President

April 20, 2007

Dan Leistikow


Edwards Kicks Off Three Day Tour of Iowa to Highlight His Rural Recovery Act

Adel, Iowa – As Senator John Edwards began a three-day tour of Iowa to highlight his detailed new Rural Recovery Act, the campaign demonstrated its growing strength in Iowa with the announcement of Rural County Chairs for all 99 Iowa counties.

The Edwards campaign becomes the first -- and only -- 2008 campaign in either party to recruit rural chairs for every county in the state, reflecting Edwards’ broad support among Iowans.  The coordinators will advise the campaign on issues of concern to rural families and help spread the word to their neighbors throughout the state about Edwards’ detailed, specific plans for their communities.  Edwards surprise second place finish in 2004 was due in part to his success in rural Iowa.

"Rural America has been ignored for too long," said Edwards. "Across America, too many small towns have turned into ghost towns. We need to help small towns and rural communities create and keep new businesses and good jobs, and we need a president who will make sure all our communities have good schools, good health care and the support systems they need. As president, I will make sure rural America is never left behind."

“Senator Edwards’ comprehensive and detailed plan for rural America has earned him a strong base of support throughout rural Iowa,” said Doug Bishop, County Treasurer and Rural County Chair for Jasper County. “He understands the unique challenges we face and is committed to building a thriving economy in every corner of our state. My fellow rural county chairs and I will do all we can to spread this message and help him achieve bold, transformational change for rural America.”

Edwards’ Rural Recovery Act would restore economic fairness and create new jobs and businesses in rural America, help struggling counties and towns and protect rural people and their way of life. A summary of the initiative is attached.

Edwards is discussing the initiative with Iowans in visits to Adel, Boone, Des Moines, Indianola, Muscatine, Mason City, Waterloo and Fort Dodge.  This is Edwards’ 22nd trip to Iowa since the beginning of 2005.

Edwards’ 99 Rural County Chairs are:

John Edwards for President
Iowa Rural County Chairs

Larry Lemon, Orient, Adair County
Jessie Krauth, Corning, Adams County
John Smola, Monona, Allamakee County
Barbara Kauzlarich, Mystic, Appanoose County
James Lynam, Exira, Audubon County
Betty Ann Butz, Norway, Benton County
Judith Brandenburg, Evansdale, Black Hawk County
William Judge, Ames, Boone County
Walt Ebert, Plainfield, Bremer County
Merle Wilson, Jesup, Buchanan County
Charlotte Sundberg, Alta, Buena Vista County
Susan Baker, Parkersburg, Butler County
Merle Chamberlain, Lake City, Calhoun County
Connie Bock, Glidden, Carroll County
Fred Vorrath, Atlantic, Cass County
Don Place, Durant, Cedar County
Roger Hunt, Nora Springs, Cerro Gordo County
Judy Buss, Cherokee, Cherokee County
Gerald Johnson, New Hampton, Chickasaw County
Darlene Handrock, Osceola, Clarke County
Lorraine Pullen, Spencer, Clay County
Jay Kleaveland, Elkader, Clayton County
Jim Ralston, Delmar, Clinton County
Pat Healy, Vail, Crawford County
Brenda Peshel, Adel, Dallas County
Carl Boas, Bloomfield, Davis County
Marie McBroom, Decatur, Decatur County
Terry Ryan, Coggon, Delaware County
Elizabeth & Keith Renner, Danville, Des Moines County
Ford Wright, Arnolds Park, Dickinson County
Garry Pape, Durango, Dubuque County
Dale Green, Estherville, Emmet County
Gayle Tellin, Westgate, Fayette County
Loyd Johnson, Nashua, Floyd County
Bruce Dohrmann, Latimer, Franklin County
Joyce Morgan, Hamburg, Fremont County
Linda McWilliam, Paton, Greene County
Anabel Speicher, Conrad, Grundy County
Loa Benton, Guthrie Center, Guthrie County
Rebecca Cole, Jewell, Hamilton County
Curtis Eliason, Kanawha, Hancock County
Susan Seedorff-Keninger, Ackley, Hardin County
Maxine Lesline, Logan, Harrison County
Rich McCabe, Mount Union, Henry County
Clement Donlan, Lime Springs, Howard County
Joleen Johnson, Humboldt, Humboldt County
Jean Neal, Arthur, Ida County
Janice Bringmann, Victor, Iowa County
Jane Dubert, Maquoketa, Jackson County
Doug Bishop, Baxter, Jasper County
Norma Emerson, Fairfield, Jefferson County
Paul Deaton, Solo Johnson, County
Victoria & Kyle Tapken, Anamosa, Jones County
Betty Adams, What Cheer, Keokuk County
Thomas McCleish, Bancroft, Kossuth County
Dolores Genck, Donnellson, Lee County
Cindy & Patrick Nulty, Ely, Linn County
Benita Grooms, Oakville, Louisa County
Betty Snakenberg, Chariton, Lucas County
Gloria Nitzschke, Rock Rapids, Lyon County
Robert Bell, St. Charles, Madison County
Charlotte Moore, Eddyville, Mahaska County
Tammy Marsh, Pleasantville, Marion County
Nina Biensen, State Center, Marshall County
Carol Crawford, Glenwood, Mills County
Dawn Lackore, Osage, Mitchell County
Edna Angove, Onawa, Monona County
Leland Carmichael, Villisca, Montgomery County
Dennis Ryan, Melrose, Monroe County
Charlene Dusenberry, Muscatine, Muscatine County
Donna Dawson, Paullina, O'Brien County
Ruth Krull, Sibley, Osceola County
Betty Maley, Clarinda, Page County
Bruce Osborn, Cylinder, Palo Alto County
Ken Giffin, Akron, Plymouth County
Audrey Simonson, Rolfe, Pocahontas County
Mary Clark, Carlisle, Polk County
Fred Howard, Underwood, Pottawattamie County
Rita Ferneau, Malcom, Poweshiek County
Katherine Werner, Lamoni, Ringgold County
John Getzmier, Schaller, Sac County
Wayne Sapp, Walcott, Scott County
Paul Jensen, Harlan, Shelby County
Virginia Sederstrom, Hawarden, Sioux County
Kermit Miskell, Story City, Story County
Maralyn Hotchkiss, Toledo, Tama County
Betty Adams, Bedford, Taylor County
Robert Culbertson, Afton, Union County
James Davis, Keosauqua, Van Buren County
Joan Hunt, Blakesburg, Wapello County
Alnice Nichols, Ackworth, Warren County
Donna Leyden, Riverside, Washington County
Steven Ruble, Corydon, Wayne County
Philip Cooney, Duncombe, Webster County
Kevin Thorsheim, Forest City, Winnebago County
Doyle Gorden, Castalia, Winneshiek County
Nancy Felts, Pierson, Woodbury County
Tim O'Keefe, Manly, Worth County
Coleen Johnson, Belmond, Wright County

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Restoring Hope to Rural America

Edwards Outlines Proposed Rural Recovery Act

Too often, the problems of rural America are forgotten by politicians in Washington.  Many rural areas are struggling: rural families earn 27 percent less than other families and 244 of the poorest 250 counties are rural.  Rural manufacturing has been hit particularly hard by international trade, the offshoring of jobs, and automation.  Struggling family farms are another challenge for small towns.  As young people move away to find opportunity, rural communities are turning into ghost towns.  One in four non-metro counties lost population in the 1990s.  [Carsey Institute, 2006; Davis, 2003; USDA, 2002]

As a native of a small rural town, John Edwards knows that America cannot turn its back on rural areas.  Small towns and rural areas are the keepers of American values like family, work, community, and freedom.  America depends on rural communities for a strong manufacturing base, reliable and affordable food, and increasingly for clean energy as well.  To make sure they share in our prosperity, we must fight corporate greed and turn the tables on runaway economic disparity.  John Edwards has outlined initiatives to restore economic fairness and create new jobs and businesses in rural America, help struggling counties and towns, and protect the rural people and their way of life.


·        Investing Seed Money for Rural Recovery:  Helping innovative small businesses is a promising approach to economic development, but only 1 percent of state economic development funds now support entrepreneurs.  Edwards will create the Rural Economic Advancement Challenge (REACH) Fund to bring capital and management expertise to small town America.  The REACH Fund will connect investors with rural entrepreneurs, organize businesses into networks to help them succeed together, and ensure that rural areas have access to the investment capital they need.  [RUPRI, 2007]

·        Creating the New Energy Economy in Rural America:  Renewable sources of energy -- including ethanol, biodiesel, wind, and solar -- can make the U.S. independent of foreign oil, cut global warming pollution, and create new industries and hundreds of thousands of jobs in rural America.  Edwards will establish the New Energy Economy Fund to jumpstart renewable energies.  He will create new markets for ethanol by requiring all new cars to run on both gasoline and E85 ethanol, requiring 25 percent of chain gas stations to carry E85, supporting E20 and E30 fuels, and working with U.S. automakers to make efficient and alternative-fuel cars.  He will support locally owned biorefineries with start-up capital.  He will also require 25 percent of electricity to be generated from renewable sources by 2025.

·        Creating Fairness for Family Farmers:  Edwards recognizes that the rules are stacked against family farmers.  He supports the strict enforcement of laws against anticompetitive mergers, unfair pricing, and country-of-origin laws.  He will enact a strong national ban on packer ownership to stop the spread of large corporate hog interests and create a national moratorium on the construction and expansion of hog farm lagoons.  To help family farmers he will also limit farm subsidies to $250,000 per person, close loopholes in payment limits, and expand conservation programs.

·        Investing in Rural Broadband:  Once a world leader in broadband access, the U.S. is now 21st in the world, trailing Estonia.  Rural households are only about half as likely to have a broadband connection even though digital inclusion is one of the quickest and surest ways to attract businesses.  Edwards will establish a national broadband map to identify gaps in availability, price, and speed and require telephone and cable companies not to discriminate against rural communities in building their broadband networks.  [ITU, 2006; CWA, 2006; Pew, 2006]

·        Prohibiting Banks from Discriminating against Rural America:  Rural communities have fewer bank branches, fewer per-capita small business loans and more high-cost mortgages.  Deregulation has led to bank consolidation while small towns rely on community banks to support local businesses.  Edwards will strengthen the Community Reinvestment Act to prevent banks from discriminating against rural areas and increase investment in rural small businesses.  He will also establish a strong national law against predatory mortgages common in many rural areas. [NCRC, 2007; Carsey Institute, 2006; Federal Reserve Board of St. Louis, 2004; SBA, 2004; Independent Community Bankers Association, 2006.]

·        Fighting for Economic Fairness:  Child poverty rates in rural areas are higher than urban rates for every racial and ethnic group.  The highest child poverty rates are in the most isolated rural areas.  To eliminate adult and childhood poverty nationwide within 30 years, Edwards will raise the minimum wage, cut taxes for low-wage workers, help workers save and invest, and expand affordable housing near good jobs and schools.  [Carsey Institute, 2006]


·        Guaranteeing Rural America the Funding It Needs and Is Entitled to:  More than half of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s $70 billion in rural development funds has actually gone to metropolitan regions, suburbs of midsize cities, and resort towns like Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket.  Edwards will rewrite these funding rules and get resources to the intended isolated and disadvantaged areas.  Because many small towns lack the grant-writing capabilities of larger towns, Edwards will direct federal agencies to offer a simplified, one-page grant application for small grants to rural towns and counties, based on the successful COPS program.  [Washington Post, 4/6/2007]

·        Strengthening Rural Schools:  Rural schools enroll 40 percent of American children – including most children in Iowa, New Hampshire, and North Carolina – but receive only 22 percent of federal education funding.  Small rural schools often struggle to provide a complete curriculum and attract and retain excellent teachers.  [NEA, 2007]

o       Investing in Teachers:  Research has found that teachers are the most important part of any school, and rural schools have particular difficulty recruiting and retaining teachers.  They often lose teachers to wealthier districts.  Edwards will improve pay for teachers in rural and other hard-to-staff schools, including rural schools, to help attract quality new and experienced teachers.  He will also offer college scholarships for students who commit to teach in underserved rural schools after graduation.  [Rural School and Community Trust, 2006 and 2007]
o       Creating Digital Learning Opportunities:  Distance learning through the Internet can bring the content of the world’s best universities, libraries, and museums to rural and remote areas.  Software programs incorporating virtual reality, digital modeling, and intelligent one-on-one tutoring systems are proven to dramatically accelerate learning.  Edwards will invest in cutting-edge research to integrate these new teaching tools and test them in rural America.  [Digital Promise, 2003]

·        Improving Rural Health Care: Over the past 25 years, 470 rural hospitals have closed.  Rural counties have only one-fourth as many doctors and one-sixth as many specialists per capita and face critical gaps in trauma care.  The Edwards plan for universal health care will cover the 9 million rural Americans who lack insurance and establish a nationwide network of safety net clinics and public hospitals.  He will rewrite the unfair Medicare and Medicaid funding formulas that punish rural states and communities.  He will also support investments in telemedicine to instantaneously connect distant specialists and advanced equipment with local doctors and patients, allowing better monitoring, chronic disease management, and emergency response.  Health care is also an important source of economic development, creating jobs directly and attracting businesses and retirees.  One study estimated that each doctor was worth more than eight jobs.  [Winbush and Crichlow, 2005; Carsey, 2006; USDA, 1999; Wakefield, 2000; KFF, 2003]


·        Ridding Rural America of Methamphetamines:  Many areas of rural America are facing the devastating effects of meth abuse.  It can be easily, quickly, and cheaply produced and is highly addictive.  Edwards will invest in enforcing drug laws in rural areas, help states make meth ingredients more difficult to get, and expand programs that successfully treat addicts such as the Residential Substance Abuse Treatment program for prisoners.

·        Protecting Lawful Gun Ownership:  In small towns across America, hunting and gun ownership is a way of life.  John Edwards believes that law-abiding citizens have the right to defend their families and respects the long American tradition of hunting.  We can protect Second Amendment gun rights while also stopping criminals from using guns.  Edwards will protect the right of law-abiding citizens to participate in gun shows, an important source of economic activity in many communities, while ensuring all that all weapons sold there are subject to an instant check.  He will also crack down on gun crimes.

·        Expanding Access to Clean Water:  Every household deserve clean, drinkable water and sanitation services, but more than 1.7 million Americans lack basic plumbing facilities.  Rural households are four times more likely to lack proper plumbing than urban homes.  Inadequate water and sanitation damage public health and impede economic development.  Edwards will help local areas improve their infrastructure and tackle local pollution problems.  He will also establish tough clean air and water requirements for concentrated animal feeding operations.  [RCAP, undated]