John and Elizabeth Edwards have thrown their support behind a new $20 million election-year campaign to press for a withdrawal from Iraq and tie the war to the faltering economy.
The Edwardses joined a conference call on Monday to discuss their efforts with the group, which includes MoveOn.org, the Service Employees International Union, VoteVets.org, and the Center for American Progress. John Edwards drew extensively from his time on the campaign trail, and spoke kindly of his former opponents who remain in the race. He claimed repeatedly that the American people will have a "very clear choice in the fall" between John McCain and the "Democratic president who will end this war."
Elizabeth Edwards, in traditional fashion, saved many of her choice words for media. Lamenting that reporters "certainly don't cover the connection between the issues," she said the American people see there is "undoubtedly a connection between oil, the costs of transportation in this country, and this war."
The effort, tentatively called Iraq Campaign 2008, intends to focus heavily on the domestic costs of a protracted Iraq war. "We have a limited amount of money and we're spending much too much of our available resources on this war," Elizabeth Edwards said. Grassroots organizing and national advertising will target members of Congress who back the war. Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME), John Sununu (R-NH), Norm Coleman (R-MN) and Mitch McConnell (R-KY) topped the list of likely targets in the Senate. Rep. John Porter (R-NV) was the only name give in the House, though as Brad Woodhouse from Americans United for Change noted, "Most of the chickens have run out of the barn."
Two individuals also on the conference call -- John Podesta, president of the Center for American Progress, and Anna Burger, secretary-treasurer of SEIU -- are heading a Democratic-leaning 527 group expected to be very active in the 2008 presidential race.
Update: The campaign kicked off today with the release of a new VoteVets.org TV ad critical of Senator John McCain. The ad features Iraq veteran Rose Forrest discussing Senator McCain's proposed 100 year commitment to Iraq and the cost here at home.