Democrat John Edwards said Tuesday that honesty and openness were essential qualities for a president, and that he was proud to acknowledge his 2002 vote authorizing the invasion of Iraq was a mistake.
Trolling for campaign cash on a three-day visit to New York — home of his chief Democratic rival, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton — Edwards spoke to reporters after attending a union-sponsored workshop on eradicating poverty.
Asked whether his repeated apologies for his vote would be a turnoff to voters over time, the 2004 vice presidential nominee said that after six years of President Bush, voters craved a president willing to acknowledge errors and change course if necessary.
"If you asked me what I think the most important personal characteristics of the next president are, I would say honesty, openness and decency," he said. "There's not a single voter in America who doesn't understand that their president is human, and their president will sometimes makes mistakes."
At a voter forum in Carson City, Nev., last week, Edwards said Clinton's decision not to disavow her vote was "between her and her conscience." He didn't mention her Wednesday, taking a swipe at President Bush instead.
Voters, the former North Carolina senator said, "want you to be willing to change course when something's not working. We've had six-plus years now of a president who is completely unwilling to do that."
For her part, Clinton's also had a busy fundraising week — thanks in part to an online effort by her husband, Bill Clinton.
In an e-mail to his wife's supporters last Wednesday, the former president launched a fundraising drive aimed at raising $1 million in a week. As of Tuesday afternoon, the campaign said it had brought in nearly $890,000.