PHOENIXVILLE - Phoenixville was the latest battleground in the fight for Pennsylvania's electoral votes Sunday.
Vice presidential candidate Sen. John Edwards spoke at a campaign block party on Second Avenue in Reeves Park Sunday afternoon.
Edwards is running on the Democratic ticket with Sen. John Kerry against incumbent President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney.
Secret Service estimated the rally's crowd at 4,000 attendees.
Congressional candidates Lois Murphy and Joe Hoeffel introduced Edwards to the cheering crowd.
Edwards took stage casually removing his jacket and rolling up his sleeves on the beautiful autumn day. He reminded his supporters to keep in mind those affected by the recent devastating weather.
Edwards began his speech by agreeing with President Bush.
"He said he wanted to be judged on his record. We want George Bush to be judged on his record," Edwards said. "Every president created jobs until this president."
Edwards addressed that the typical family income has dropped by $1,500, and 160,000 manufacturing jobs have been lost in Pa. He said four million people have entered poverty and five million have lost health care.
"Iraq is a mess because of George Bush and Dick Cheney," said Edwards. "They can't defend this record."
Edwards personalized the war to individuals, saying everyone knows someone serving in Iraq or who has served and that the numbers will increase.
"When John Kerry is president of the United States, we're going to get rid of the backdoor draft," the Senator said.
"John and I actually have a plan to be successful in Iraq. It starts with continuing with the proud tradition of America, to lead strong alliances throughout the world," Edwards said. "We will find al Queda where they are and get justice."
Edwards accused Cheney of being un-American in saying calculated statements to divide America.
"Dick Cheney said, with a straight face, they've made health care more accessible, more available and more affordable to the American people. What American people?" said Edwards. "What would be good for our economy is to outsource their administration."
The North Carolina Senator said Kerry's administration will bring health care costs down, give tax breaks to American companies who keep American jobs and rid breaks from outsourcing companies.
"There's lots of things we can do to move away from the war," said Edwards.
Edwards emphasized keeping trade agreements, investing in innovative occupations, seeking energy independence and investing in clean alternative energy sources.
"Hope is on the way," the candidate said. "The family you're born into and the color of your skin will never control your destiny."
Regarding education, Edwards said the Kerry administration will exchange two years of public service for four years of higher education for young people.
"If you think America's heading in the right direction, you should vote for George Bush. If you don't, you ought to vote for President John Kerry," Edwards said. "We don't think there should be red or blue states. We think there should be one United States of America that includes all of us."
"This is the most important election of our lifetime," said Edwards. "We will make sure America is strong, safe and we are looked up to and respected once again."
Edwards encouraged patrons to reach out to neighbors and attend the polls in November.
Other Democrats also spoke at the rally to promote the Kerry/Edwards campaign.
"We love being in Phoenixville. We thank you for being in Phoenixville," greeted Congressional Candidate for the 6th District Lois Murphy with Congressman Joe Hoeffel.
Murphy riled the audience to meet "the next vice president" and cheered Chester, Montgomery, Berks and Bucks counties.
"The Philadelphia suburbs are going to win it for John Kerry and John Edwards and send them to Washington," Murphy said. "Pennsylvania's going to be a blue state on Nov. 2, and you're gonna make it a blue state."
The Democratic candidate made her views on the current administration crystal clear to the crowd.
"'W' stands for worse than wrong. George W. Bush is the most deceptive, cynical and manipulative administration we've seen in our lifetimes," Murphy said. "George Bush said he's gonna do something about health care. Well hello, he's had four years."
Murphy also spoke about her opponent in the 6th District, U.S. Rep. Jim Gerlach.
"Jim Gerlach is going to outsource our jobs in Pennsylvania, and we're gonna outsource Jim Gerlach," said Murphy. "You need new leadership in Washington. We need new leadership in Washington. We need better representation for the people of Pennsylvania, and we need it now."
Hoeffel, whose running for Senate against Arlen Specter, addressed the opposing party in his talk. He said the Republicans should be thrown out of office for breaking promises.
"The Republicans made their choices. They decided to cut taxes for millionaires rather than make important investments in job creation, public schools and health care," Hoeffel said. "They have led us into a situation where we're less safe, not more safe, against the war on terror."
Hoeffel invited the public to "join to build a better America" with "better jobs and better retirement."
"I want to inspire the world, and I want you to as well," Hoeffel said.
Mayor Leo Scoda initially welcomed the crowd and proudly proclaimed his party affiliation. The mayor thanked both Democrats and Republicans for showing up to support Kerry/Edwards and invited Phoenixville to visit Edwards in Washington on Jan. 20.
Scoda closed with a saying from his uncle: "Politics is like driving. If you want the car to go forward, you put it in 'D.' If you want it to go backwards, you put it in 'R'."
"Let's make sure this is the first time Chester County votes Democratic, and Kerry and Edwards win this election," Chester County Democratic Committee Commissioner Andy Dinniman encouraged voters. "The key state is the Keystone state. And the key to the Keystone state is Philadelphia's suburbs."
"This is good for the town, people and party. It's nice to see the unity involved here," said James Del-Nero (D-Middle), Phoenixville Borough Councilman and treasurer for the Phoenixville Democratic Committee. "Edwards is out in the trenches getting the little guy to vote and showing that he cares."
Edwards moved onto Johnstown after the rally to continue on the campaign trail, where Pa. is a key factor.