LANCASTER -- John Edwards brought his fading presidential campaign to this old textile town on Wednesday, hoping a bluegrass legend, a guy named Cooter and an I'm-one-of-you stump speech could revive his fortunes in the state where he was born.
In case anyone had forgotten, Edwards reminded 250 listeners on the USC-Lancaster campus that he hails from down the road in Seneca and grew up the son of a mill worker.
"When I tell you that I understand your lives, I mean it," he said. "I remember going to high school football games. I remember going to church on Sunday and Wednesday nights. I know what your lives are like and what they're built around. Because I lived it."
Edwards' afternoon stop attracted an entirely different brand of Democrat than the Barack Obama event earlier in the day in Rock Hill. Here, old-line Yellow Dogs took the place of a younger and more urban Starbucks-and-sandals crowd.
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These are the folks that Edwards considers the backbone of the Democratic Party, even if the other candidates aren't treating them like it. He singled out Hillary Clinton for campaigning elsewhere in the country this week.
"If you're not spending time in South Carolina the week before the primary, what are the chances you're going to come back after?" he asked. "You have been ignored too long. I will not ignore you."
Edwards trails Clinton and Obama in the polls and has all but acknowledged that he expects to finish third in Saturday's S.C. primary. He didn't make any predictions, except to say that he expects a long campaign ahead.
Edwards not the only draw
Some in the audience said they came for reasons other than affection for Edwards. One family said they were drawn by the idea of a presidential candidate stopping in their small town.
"Frankly, I just came to hear Ralph Stanley," another man said on his way out.
Stanley, the 80-year-old bluegrass icon from Virginia, took the stage with his Clinch Mountain Boys to play "Man of Constant Sorrow" and a handful of other hits. Afterward, Stanley asked the crowd to join hands as he sang "Amazing Grace."
Also in the traveling party was Ben Jones, the former Georgia Congressman famous for playing Cooter on "The Dukes of Hazzard." Jones signed autographs, greeted middle-aged female admirers and urged the crowd not to let the national media dictate their thinking.
Jones and others in the Edwards camp have grown increasingly frustrated at the lack of attention being paid to their candidate. They believe the media has focused too much on the back-and-forth between Clinton and Obama.
"Let's send some news out of South Carolina that whatever the national media says ... the people will speak for themselves," Edwards implored his audience.
In between the Lancaster visit and evening events in Gaffney, Edwards was to make an unscheduled stop at A Place for Hope in the Blackmon Road community, where he visited in November.