Edwards focuses on education

HUDSON – Southeastern Container employee Woody LaPointe liked what U.S. Sen. John Edwards had to say about education.

The presidential candidate discussed his goals for education Tuesday, including funding federal mandates such as the No Child Left Behind Act, supporting early childhood education programs and providing college aid for students who work while going to school.

“He was great on education,” LaPointe said, adding: “Now he has to go to the other end – senior citizens – and he has my vote.”

About 30 employees from the Executive Drive company met with Edwards. The meeting was part of the company’s nonpartisan campaign to get out the vote, General Manager John Fischer said.

In response to LaPointe’s question about rising prescription costs for senior citizens, Edwards said he would support allowing prescription drugs from Canada and speeding up the timeline for generic drugs.

“It was in line with what I expected him to say,” LaPointe said. “I hoped he’d have a magic bullet.”

Edwards focused on education, saying he would like the government to do more to attract teachers and that he supports giving bonuses to teachers who work in less affluent areas.

The North Carolina senator said he would support a program where students can go to a community college or state college for free one year in exchange for working 10 hours a week

Edwards was asked how he would fund his education plan. He said he would support rolling back President Bush’s tax cuts for people who make more than $200,000 a year, raising the capital gains tax for those who make more than $300,000 a year and closing several tax loopholes.

“He spoke pretty well on the issues (he’s) passionate about,” employee Jerry Gagnon said. “I respect him for it.”

Edwards also faced some questions about his candidacy. Employee Bert Paradise asked him about his standing in the polls and how he plans to catch up with former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean.

“In Iowa, four of us are competing pretty heavily,” he said.

In New Hampshire, Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry and Dean may have had an advantage coming from the area, Edwards said. He noted that he is holding numerous town hall meetings so voters can meet him and hear his message.

“I’m moving up,” he said.

Although he hasn’t made up his mind, Paradise said he had been thinking about voting for Dean.

“I liked Edwards. He used to be way down in the polls . . . I kind of dismissed him,” he said.

“Now (that) he’s third in the polls, maybe he deserves more consideration.”