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Inside Politics

Edwards cites optimism about race

Senator blames Bush for partisan divisions in country

Sen. John Edwards shakes hands Monday at a rally in Dubuque, Iowa.

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John Edwards
America Votes 2004

(CNN) -- Democratic vice presidential nominee Sen. John Edwards said Monday that he is optimistic that he and running mate Sen. John Kerry will win next Tuesday's general election, and he put the blame for partisan divisions in the country squarely on the man they hope to defeat, President Bush.

"George Bush has done an extraordinary job of dividing this country," Edwards said Monday on CNN's "Larry King Live."

"Have we ever seen Americans this divided? I mean it is the direct result of the choices George Bush has made and the partisanship he has shown. It is not good. It is not healthy."

Edwards also accused the Bush campaign of deliberately distorting Kerry's record and engaging in personal attacks against the senator from Massachusetts.

"I don't think it's an accident. I think that they have decided they can't run based upon their own record during the four years they have been in office," he said.

"I think what has happened is they have tried to divert attention, and when people engage in false personal attacks against a presidential candidate ... you have to respond. You can't just leave it laying out there."

Edwards predicted a huge turnout next week, particularly among young voters, that would benefit the Kerry-Edwards ticket.

"The more people who vote, the more likely that John Kerry will be elected president," Edwards said, adding that if there are long lines with young faces at the polls on Election Day, "then the odds are John Kerry will be the next president of the United States."

However, Edwards also conceded that he was disappointed that independent candidate Ralph Nader decided to stay in the race.

"It would be better for us if he wasn't in it. It would be better for the country if he wasn't in," Edwards said.

"But the more important thing for us is to make sure that anybody who would consider voting for Ralph Nader knows that, you know, fighting for the environment, the quality of our air and our water, or fighting against corporate abuses -- I mean, those are the kind of things that John Kerry and I have fought our entire lives for." (Special Report: America Votes 2004, the Issues)

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