Thursday, July 05, 2007

"Edwards may add Wal-Mart opponents as senior staff"

Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards is expected to name two activists opposed to the giant retailer Wal-Mart Stores Inc. to senior posts on his campaign staff, a campaign official said on Thursday.
Paul Blank, who has worked for Democrat Howard Dean's 2004 presidential campaign, would take charge of day-to-day Edwards campaign operations, the campaign official said. Chris Kofinis, former adviser to 2004 Democratic presidential hopeful Wesley Clark, would become the Edwards campaign's communications director.

The campaign official said a tentative deal was in place and could be finalized within the next few days. The official said Blank and Kofinis would taking newly created jobs with the campaign.

The official asked not to be identified and would speak only on background because the deal has not yet been finalized.

Blank and Kofinis, well-known Democratic Party operatives, both are leaders of the activist group Wake-Up Wal-Mart, which opposes Wal-Mart policies that it says have hurt American jobs, wages, health care and local communities.

Blank is the organization's campaign director and Kofinis its communications director.

The Edwards campaign official said their addition would boost senior staff at a time when Edwards' campaign manager, former Michigan congressman David Bonior, has increased his high-profile media and campaign appearances in early-voting states.

"While he's doing that stuff, you need somebody here in the office overseeing tactical operations on his behalf, budget allocations, things like that," the campaign official said.

Edwards, a former North Carolina senator who was the Democratic nominee for vice president in 2004, has fallen well behind party front-runners, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York and Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois, in campaign fund-raising this year.

Edwards recently announced that he had raised $9 million in the second quarter of 2007.

That compared to second-quarter primary campaign fund-raising of $31 million for Obama. Clinton was expected to raise about $10 million less than the Illinois senator.