john edwards @ gnomdex

The discussion opened with Edwards providing a few opening comments, and then he took nearly 45 minutes of questions and dialog from the group. Some thoughts/comments he made:

Question from audience about politicians sounding like politicians and losing credibility with the people. Does Edwards recognize when he falls into that mode and how does he get away from that? Response: The problem for politicians is that they are so trained and conditioned to be formal and not be real or normal, it's hard to shed that. He can feel it when it happens to himself (his wife Elizabeth calls him out when he does this). He believes the next white house winner will be someone who connects and is real, one who sheds the politician cloak. His own retraining involves learning to answer the quesiton asked, not always being careful and cautious, and not just saying what he's trained to say.

Answering a question about local communities - e.g. creating vibrant local bases to change communities and eventually the country. Edwards talked about what he's doing on this. He's created "one corps" - an online community in locations all over the country.

Question from Andrew Cox (of PA) - how involved should the government be w/ monitoring activities on the internet? What about taxing internet commerce? Answer: this is a question about freedom and we need to be very careful of this; but we need to deal with the problems of people praying on children. He hasn't thought much about the second question.

Question from Alex Williams - there is a language war going on. R's using language well and effectively. (This is a George Lakoff "Don't think of an Elefant" issue.) Answer: Language matters but it will not dictate the outcome of an election. The election is about character, leadership, integrity and trust. Language is more of an "edge" issue.

Question from Buzz - question about can Ds win, and how will Senator Edwards get around the history of being a trial attorney? Answer: D's can absolutely get there, exhibit strength and leadership by having big ideas (not crazy ideas) and be willing to stand behind them.

Question from Halley: What's the next technology (like blogs in the last election) that will help the next election? Texting? Blogging? Answer: Edwards is doing this by blogging, videoblogging, collecting ideas from constitunts through blogging process. The question is how do you empower people to get there on this.

Comment from someone from MS Windows Live about government's power to scoop up our private information in the name of preventing "terrorism" and that this is a problem.

Comment from reporter asking for committment form Edwards to have a journalist on board the campaign bus right beside the candidate and over the candidate's shoulder. In Edwards' words regarding the information that comes through in a : "if they get it all, they will trust it, rather than being spoon fed." Edwards has thought a lot about the reality TV model for a political campaign.

JD Lasica's question: Thanks Edwards for bringing proverty to the national agenda again. Wants to know how we (the technology community) can raise the awareness of the poverty issues. Provide us with an email and forum. Response: Edwards wants to hear from the community on this. Send him your thoughts.

His final words were to tell the audience to help him and others make this democracy less top down and more bottom up.

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