John Edwards (search) coupled a call for a new $3 billion job creation program with a populist assault on a president he said has broken faith with the nation's middle class.
"He lives this privileged existence, sheltered from the rest of the world," Edwards said Saturday. "He doesn't have a clue what's going on in real people's lives."
Stumping for Tuesday's Wisconsin primary, Edwards continued to hammer on jobs in a state that suffered the lost of 74,000 manufacturing jobs in the last three years. He fleshed out that theme with a call for a $3 billion, two-year venture capital program he said would provide seed money for new and expanding businesses. The $3 billion public investment likely would spark up to $10 billion in private investment and would save or create "hundreds of thousands of jobs," Edwards said.
"I'm not talking about service jobs making the minimum wage, I'm talking about real jobs," he said.
Meeting with reporters after speaking to hundreds of backers in a jammed hotel ballroom, Edwards again made the point that he intends to push forward with his campaign, regardless of the outcome Tuesday night. There has been no pressure on his campaign to step aside in favor of the front-running John Kerry (search), and instead there's been encouragement to stay in the race.
"People want the process to go forward," said Edwards, declining to set any standards that would force him out.
"I think this process is too fluid to set any kind of arbitrary deadlines," said Edwards. He has the money and commitment to carry the campaign through March, he said, and has every intention of doing so.
Edwards continued his focus on jobs when joining some of his rivals later at a large fund-raising dinner, saying trade policies have been responsible for job losses.
"We need trade and we can't shut ourselves off from the world," he said. "But we need to choose a different path."