August 28, 2007
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Anna Christopher, NPR
   

PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE JOHN EDWARDS
ON NPR NEWS TELL ME MORE WITH MICHEL MARTIN
TOMORROW, WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 29

EDWARDS CALLS HURRICANE KATRINA RECOVERY “A COMPLETE
FAILURE OF PRESIDENTIAL LEADERSHIP”

EXCERPTS BELOW; AUDIO TO BE AVAILABLE AT WWW.NPR.ORG


August 28, 2007; Washington, D.C. – Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards tells NPR’s Michel Martin that recovery and reconstruction efforts in post-Hurricane Katrina New Orleans demonstrate “a complete failure of presidential leadership,” in an interview airing tomorrow, August 29, 2007, on NPR News’ Tell Me More with Michel Martin.

“I think the president of the United States did not take control of the situation, demand action at the highest level, eliminate some of the bureaucracies and red tape that stand between the citizens of New Orleans and the help that they need,” Edwards says. “If you walk through the Ninth Ward of New Orleans or St. Bernard’s Parish, it’s virtually no difference from the time just a month or so after the hurricane hit. …I think there’s been a complete failure of presidential leadership in bringing the tools that are available to provide help to the community.”

On continuing to bring awareness to the plight of New Orleans residents, Edwards says: “What you will hear from most people in New Orleans is they think they’ve been forgotten, that there was a lot of attention, a lot of politicians coming down in the few weeks right after the hurricane hit. But they don’t see anybody anymore. Nobody comes anymore. There is no national attention. …I think that there is real value in continuing to bring to the attention of America the failures that have occurred in New Orleans and the needs of the people of New Orleans so that they’re not forgot.”

On reports that Edwards had millions of dollars invested in the Fortress Investment Group, whose subprime lending unit had foreclosed on dozens of homes in New Orleans, Edwards says: “I’ve been working actually with the NAACP and leaders of the NAACP to identify the people who are in danger of losing their homes. …In fact, I met with them yesterday in New Orleans to figure out what we can do to help. And we’re working on putting together a system that will provide aid and assistance to the families who are in danger of losing their homes.”

He continues: “I am not going to have any money that my family is investing in anybody that is foreclosing on anybody in New Orleans, period. And so that’s the reason we took the money out.”

On the resignation of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, and Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff as a possible replacement, Edwards says: “He should have been gone a while back. I’ve been calling for his resignation for months now. And I think the fact that he’s gone – I think all of America clearly lost confidence in him as attorney general and he needed to be gone. As to Michael Chertoff, I don’t think we should replace the man who gave us Guantanamo with the man who gave us Katrina. Replacing Alberto Gonzales with Chertoff, to me, I think sends the wrong signal to the American people. There are thousands of highly qualified lawyers who are perfectly – maybe not political – but perfectly capable of doing a great job as attorney general of the United States. And it’s hard for me to understand why George Bush’s circle is so small.”

All excerpts must be credited to NPR News Tell Me More. Television usage must include on-screen credit with NPR logo. Audio of the interview will be available Wednesday morning at www.NPR.org

The interview with former Senator Edwards is part of two days Tell Me More is devoting to Katrina coverage on Wednesday-Thursday, August 29-30. Segments will focus on the status of reconstruction efforts, including interviews with the mayors of Houston, TX, and Jackson, MS. Martin also talks with Lieutenant General Russel Honore, who was responsible for coordinating military relief efforts for Katrina, and New Orleans blues vocalist Irma Thomas.

Tell Me More, NPR’s new news and talk program, brings fresh voices and perspectives to public radio. The daily one-hour series hosted by Michel Martin captures the headlines, issues and pleasures relevant to multicultural life in America. For stations and broadcast times, visit www.NPR.org