A populist in Miami?
Sure enough, as I was waiting for a vodka tonic at the crowded cash bar, John Edwards somehow materialized and took the stage to cheering. He had blown into town for, among other things, a fundraiser at the Rusty Pelican, with its wide-open views of the Magic City’s skyline.
A hundred or so people crowded around, but the second floor events room was far from packed. Twenty-somethings in red, white, and blue donkey ties and thirty-somethings wielding cellphone cameras were getting giddy.
In all his blue-eyed, perfect-hair glory, Edwards took the mike and launched into a list of causes: the war in Iraq, universal healthcare, genocide in Darfur, AIDS in Africa, primary school education, carbon emission caps, New Orleans. “Think of the good that America can do.”
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Telling personal stories in his North Carolina drawl and calling for moral justice, Edwards was almost a vision of a folksy, grassroots leader. “The greatest movements in American history didn’t start in the oval office. They started out here.” He sounded tired though, his speech somewhat rushed. The crowd clapped like a studio audience, seemingly on cue.
Andrew Weeraratne stood against a wall taking it in. A onetime financial adviser to the U.S. embassy in Baghdad, the 56-year-old had come to hear Edwards’s message. “In order to change the world, we need a philosopher king,” he said after Edwards’s brief speech.
Looking toward the scrum following Edwards across the floor, Weeraratne whipped out a business card and flyer advertising his book, Uncommon Commonsense Steps to Super Wealth. “I want to dedicate my book to him, but I don’t think I’ll get to meet him.”
What advice does the financial advisor have for Edwards? Better organization and outreach would help, Weeraratne said. “The Republicans send me a letter every month.” --Rob Jordan