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Edwards: Bush NAACP Snub 'Very Unhealthy'

The following is a transcribed excerpt of Carl Cameron's interview with John Edwards shown on "Special Report With Brit Hume," July 15, 2004:

JIM ANGLE, FOX ANCHOR: As we reported earlier, Democratic vice presidential candidate John Edwards campaigned today in New Orleans. As he prepared to depart, Edwards sat down with Fox News chief news political correspondent Carl Cameron for a conversation covering everything from Iraq to gay marriage.

Carl asked Edwards about his pre-war statement of February 2003 that the U.S. and its allies should go to war with Iraq even without the backing of the U.N. Edwards said he had a fundamental difference with President Bush on this issue.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SEN. JOHN EDWARDS (D-NC), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: As you know, I voted for the resolution. I believe the president should have had the authority to deal with Saddam Hussein. I think Saddam Hussein being gone is good, but my fundamental difference with the president is the way he has abused his authority. He did not in a serious way put together the kind of international coalition that could have been put together. And the second, and I think this has become critical and we're seeing the consequences now, is he had no thoughtful detailed plan about how to win the peace.

CARL CAMERON, FOX NEWS CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: At the time, back in 2003 again, you had suggested that Iraq was — that Iraq and Saddam was an imminent threat, words that the president didn’t use, and that you were prepared to take action even without the full U.N. coalition that obviously now the world thinks should have been in place. How do those comments from candidate Edwards reconcile with vice presidential nominee Edwards?

EDWARDS: Completely consistent. I have said the same thing from day one. From day one I have said the president needs the authority to deal with Saddam Hussein. I have said the president has got to reach out to the international community in a serious way. He didn't do that. I mean, he was completely tunnel-visioned about this. And it has cost us enormously as a result.

CAMERON: That lead to Congress being misled?

EDWARDS: Oh, I don't — here is what I think. I think the president did not — was not open with the American people about the dangers about what we were confronting, about the information that was available, what was reliable, what was — may not reliable. I think that it would have helped with his credibility both then and now had he done that.

CAMERON: Gay marriage. It’s now off the table in the U.S. Senate.

What is your position about the gay marriage debate in your home state of North Carolina?

EDWARDS: It’s the same as it is everywhere.

CAMERON: If North Carolina has an opposition to civil unions in North Carolina, will you support their state’s right to be opposed to civil unions even?

EDWARDS: My — well, now, now you are asking about North Carolina versus…

CAMERON: Versus — yes.

EDWARDS: Versus my personal opinion — you know my personal view.

CAMERON: Definitely a state’s rights question.

EDWARDS: Yes. I believe this is an issue that ought to be decided in the states, and I think we as a national government ought to recognize whatever the states decide. See, under existing law today no state is required to recognize another state’s marriage, as a public policy exception to the full faith and credit, and the result of that is we don't — there’s no need to do anything.

There was no need — there is no need for a constitutional amendment, but what’s happening is the president and the administration are using it as a political tool. Well, that’s not the way our Constitution intended it to be used, not the way amending the Constitution, something that serious, is intended to be used.

And instead what we should be doing is talking about the issues that affect people’s day-to-day lives. I mean, he’s the president for the millions of Americans who need health care, who need health care costs brought down, who need prescription drugs, who need jobs, who need a school system that works for those who want to send their kids to college, and this is what he is spending his time and energy on. I think it says something about the difference between his priorities and our priorities.

CAMERON: One quick rewind to last week. Whoopi Goldberg lost her Slim-Fast endorsement because of her comments at Radio City. Is that appropriate?

EDWARDS: I think that’s entirely up to them. My own view — I was there during this event, as you know, and my own view is some things were — first of all, the people who spoke were speaking for themselves. They weren't speaking for me, and they weren't speaking for John Kerry. You'll notice that when we talked on the campaign trail, both before and after that event, we were focused on our positive, optimistic vision and hope for the country, which is exactly what we're going to continue to stay focused on.

I mean, I know what’s happening. I’ve heard it from Democrats all over the country. It’s not just from the performers. They're angry. They're upset. And they're expressing that in their own individual ways, but they don't speak for me.

CAMERON: If John Edwards was called an illegal senator or a Taliban guy, as the NAACP referred to President Bush, would you go?

EDWARDS: What is that — they called — I didn't even…

CAMERON: Yes. The NAACP referred to the president as an "illegal president" and said that his social agenda is the Taliban, et cetera, et cetera.

EDWARDS: My view is that one of the leading civil rights organizations in the country, somebody who has led on civil rights and equality for a long time, even if they disagreed with the president about every single issue, he is still their president, and it is important for him to go.

They need to hear from him what his views are. I mean, the only way to have a dialogue is you have to talk to people. And his saying, I’m just not going, is a sign of disrespect. And it’s a very unhealthy thing.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANGLE: Carl Cameron speaking to Senator John Edwards, the vice presidential candidate on the Democratic ticket.

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