Bio: John Edwards

Senator John Edwards was elected to his first term in the Senate in 1998. In that campaign to represent North Carolina in the Senate, he refused political action committee cash, instead spending $3 million of his own money to win the seat.

During his time in the Senate, Edwards has served on five committees: Commerce, Science and Transportation; Health, Education, Labor and Pensions; Intelligence; Judiciary; and Small Business.he helped win more than $250 million in disaster relief for his state after Hurricane Floyd.

Much of his focus on Capitol Hill is on education, Social Security, Medicare and developing a Patients' Bill of Rights.

Born in 1953 in South Carolina, Edwards grew up as the son of a textile mill employee. However, he spent his teenage years in Robbins, N.C.

The first person in his family to attend college, Edwards worked his way through North Carolina State University and graduated with honors in 1974. He earned a law degree with honors in 1977 from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

A successful trial lawyer, he started off defending record companies accused of infringing on Elvis Presley copyrights, then moved to big-ticket personal injury cases, winning verdicts as high as $152 million and amassing a personal fortune of $14 million.

He met his wife, Elizabeth, when both were law school students at Chapel Hill. They married in 1977 and have had four children. Their first child, Wade, died in 1996. Their eldest daughter, Catharine, is a student at Princeton University. They also have a four-year-old daughter, Emma Claire, and a two-year-old son, Jack.