DALLAS — Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards told a youthful crowd Friday night to ignore descriptions of their generation as apathetic.
"It's a great lie in America," Edwards said at the Young Democrats of America national convention. "This room is filled with good people who care about America."
Greeted warmly with multiple standing ovations and the occasional "amen," the former North Carolina senator gave young activists credit for bringing several issues to public awareness, including genocide in Darfur and global warming.
"There should not be another, not one, coal-fired power plant built in the United States," Edwards said.
Throwing plenty of red meat to the decidedly blue crowd, Edwards said he would, if elected president, close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, pass universal healthcare legislation and make America "a force for good again" by revamping its foreign policy.
Edwards talked about his multistate "poverty tour" that concluded earlier in the week and took time to take a swipe at political analysts who questioned whether poverty is a winning theme for a presidential campaign.
"Who cares if it's a good political strategy?" Edwards asked. "This is the cause of my life."
Congress should ignore Bush's vetoes and continue sending him bills approving a timetable for troop withdrawal from Iraq, Edwards said.
Edwards, 54, a lawyer, served in the Senate for one term and ran for vice president on the 2004 Democratic ticket.
The convention, which continues through Sunday, drew about 1,000 Democrats, all focused on ways to increase support for Democratic candidates and issues.
Increasing voter turnout among young people is a major theme of the event. Conference organizers noted that the number of voters under 30 has increased in recent elections.
Organizers had hoped to attract most or all of the Democratic presidential candidates. Only two agreed: Edwards and former Alaska Sen. Mike Gravel, who addresses the convention Saturday.