Edwards Promises Help to Rural Americans

Democratic vice presidential nominee John Edwards (search) promised Monday to deliver high-speed Internet access and more money for people to start businesses in rural areas.

Edwards, on his second stop in as many days in southwest Missouri, said business closings and declining wages are particularly acute in rural parts of the country, and that he and John Kerr (search)y would help change that if elected.

"The key to this is to have a president and vice president of the United States who don't think of rural America as a place you fly over between New York and California," Edwards told a private gathering of about 35 people on a 500-acre family farm. "It's part of our way of life, what we believe in."

Edwards said he and Kerry, the Democratic presidential nominee, Kerry would create a program to get more venture capital and management expertise to rural areas. Providing financial and educational support for entrepreneurs would help strengthen rural economies, he said.

Another piece of the plan calls for making high-speed Internet available. Edwards said that would slow the movement of jobs to other countries by helping small towns stay on the forefront of manufacturing and technology.

Edwards also promoted ethanol and other grain-based fuels as a way to reduce consumption of foreign oil. Using crops and other alternative sources would stimulate the economy by providing another outlet for those products, he said.

The Bush-Cheney campaign responded with a list of reasons why "Kerry is wrong for rural America."

"John Kerry doesn't have a pro-growth, pro-jobs economic plan," said Sen. Jim Talent, R-Mo. "He supports higher taxes which will hurt Missouri's economy — an economy that has created 63,500 new jobs over the past year."

Edwards traveled afterward to Georgia, for a rally in College Park and a fund-raiser in downtown Atlanta. Democrats hoped to raise $1 million for the Democratic National Committee.