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October 26, 2007

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F&S Exclusive: John Edwards Interview

Yesterday’s heavy and heated response to Presidential Candidate John Edwards’ proposed “Hunting and Fishing Bill of Rights and Responsibilities” prompted us to call the North Carolina Senator and discuss the details. F&S Associate Editor, Brian McClintock, asked Edwards about some of his policy points, how he enjoys the outdoors, and what he thinks about gun ownership.

Field & Stream: Why is the “Hunting and Fishing Bill of Rights and Responsibilities” is important to you and to American hunters and anglers?

John Edwards: I grew up in rural America, and it’s a huge part of who I am. I want to ensure that hunters and fishermen’s rights are being watched over and protected. I think it’s important for the country because we have a lot of outdoorsmen who care about having access to land, being able to hunt and fish, having clean water, and to just be able to enjoy the outdoors. I think it’s important for America, and I think it’s important for people who hunt and fish.

F&S: What do you think is the single largest threat to hunting and fishing?

JE: I think there are two. One is having access to lands to hunt and fish on, and ensuring that those lands are available. Secondly, to protect and preserve the land and water so that it continues to be available for generations to come

F&S: You say you hunted as a boy, what outdoor activities do you currently participate in?

JE: Oh, I still love to fish. I don’t hunt anymore, but I haven’t hunted since I was a young boy. I’ve basically fished all my life -- both saltwater and freshwater, but I probably do more freshwater fishing. I love spending time in the woods. I live on a big piece of land, and we have a great opportunity to spend time out in the woods, myself, my wife, my kids. We enjoy the outdoors, we love them.

F&S: How do you plan on protecting gun rights and promoting gun safety?

JE: I think, first and foremost, that we need a president who actually believes in the Second Amendment and in the individual right to own firearms. And, the importance in that, both for hunting and for protection, and I do. I think part of it is the way of life that I grew up with, and the culture of which I grew up in. It’s been with me my entire life.

I think there are some reasonable things that we can do to make sure we keep guns out of the hands of people like that young man who did the killings at Virginia Tech. I think we can fill in some holes that exist in the system today. I haven’t met a hunter yet who needed an AK-47 to hunt, but I think we need to be very careful to make sure that the second amendment rights are protected.

F&S: What are some of those holes?

JE: I think we can use the Virginia Tech shootings as instructions. It was a young man who had obvious and identified mental and emotional problems. It was well documented in court records, but because we haven’t done an effective job of filling the gaps in our national system, he didn’t get identified when he went to buy a gun. That’s exactly the kind of thing I’m talking about. Making sure the public’s protected from people who have serious criminal records and people who have serious emotional and mental problems from having guns.

F&S: How do you hope to preserve Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) land with many farmers looking to take advantage of the high corn prices by turning their CRP fields into cornfields?

JE: Well, first of all, I don’t want to get too far out there because this is largely done through the Farm Bill, and I want to see what actually comes out of that. My position is pretty simple. I support the CRP to make sure that farmers and land owners make the steps necessary to preserve their land. My experience with farmers in North Carolina and in Iowa and in other places in the country is that most family farmers are both responsive and responsible to conservation efforts because their land has been in their families for years. They care about ensuring that the land is, in fact, preserved and that conservation efforts are undertaken.

I think the role of public policy in this is to make sure that, through the Farm Bill, this program receives the support it deserves.

F&S: How do you plan to balance the Roadless Rule with maintaining access to land?

JE: President Clinton was a big supporter of the Roadless Rule, and George Bush reversed it. Basically, what I want to go back to is the form in which the rule existed when the Clinton Administration went out of office. The idea is to preserve these lands and meet our environmental responsibility.

F&S: How are you hoping the Hunting and Fishing Bill of Rights and Responsibilities is used in the future?

JE: Some of these things are very specific, and will require laws to be changed or be passed. For example, the Open Fields Program provides federal funding to encourage private landowners to allow people to hunt and fish on their lands. The public access camps give people more voice in local land management. For those things that require changes to the law, I will make proposals to congress to make changes.

Taking steps to necessary to enforce the Clean Water Act (CWA) is more administrative because the CWA already exits. It’s just a matter of making sure we cut down on mercury pollution based on what science says can be done. The Second Amendment exists. We just need a president who recognizes that it exists. And we need a president that will make sure that the Bureau of Land Management is actually looking out for the public’s interest in public land. Some of these points have to do with the way you administer responsibilities that the president and administration already have, and some have to do with changes in the law and funding.


Nathan R

Nice of F&S to follow up on the discussion, but my opinion remains unchanged.

Joe Anderson

Iwouldnt trust him anyforther than I could throw donkey

David Boones

Sounds like the same political crap to me, and what's the deal with his AK statement?


Nice for the follow up but I have to agree with Nathan. Opinion unchanged.


Q. How can you tell when John Edwards is lying?
A. His lips are moving.

r napolitano

Dont trust him, they lie when elections are near and then they vote to restrict our rights. I would not believe Edwards, Clinton, Obama, and the rest including Guiliani. Skunks dont change their stripes. Remeber Kerry and his crapola. Edwards and the rest never met a gun control law that they didnt like, just look at Spitzser in New York and his move to regulate muzzleloaders. I guess too many banks are being robbed by humters with single shot muzzleloaders for his tastes. Dont trust them, they all LIE LIE LIE. How long before they reduce us to UN control of our firearms, about two weeks if they had their way.


I don't NEED an ak-47, but I do want one. I love to shoot them. I love shooting coke bottles full of water, other rifles would probably do a better job, but the ak is just plain fun! I don't want someone else telling me what I do or don't need. No one needs a corvette or ferrari but people sure do enjoy them. We don't need a lot of the things that we enjoy, but that doesn't mean we should be prevented from having them. John Edwards doesn't need the huge house on lots of land that he lives on but I'm sure he enjoys it.

It's the same old line of crap from the politcal elite, those that have everything they want try and tell everyone else what they should be allowed to have.

I expect we will be seeing Breck Girl out of the race fairly soon if we are still a year out and he already has to try and plant his lips on the hunting and fishing crowds ass. take a hike you phoney!


"Breck girl" is a Rush Limbaugh original and used here only to demonstrate my support for Rush. I do not intend to claim any credit for comming up with this nickname.

AK Fan

Just because I don't need an AK, doesn't mean he's allowed to ban them. What's next, .30-.30s?

How can he say he believes in the Second Ammendment and that people don't need AKs?


And after he bans our AKs, whats next - bubby's surplus SKS thats put plenty of deer on the family table for years using the same round as an AK?

What a horrid precedent. Just this morning, I dealt with some fuddy telling me i "didn't need an inline" to go muzzleloader hunting. Is that what Edwards wants to do next??

Do I need a short magnumn?? Not by any stretch of the imagination, but is it John Edwards right to tell me what I can use??

Do I need that Remington .280 I intend to purchase this weekend? Hell no, my old .30-30 (remember that round??? Teddy Kennedy called it a police armor piercing round) does fine. But damn straight I'm gonna buy it!

I wouldn't trust this POS 1 minute. Good on F&S for following up with him originally, but you shouldn't have let him off on the old who needs an AK canard.

Mike Diehl

Sounds credible to me. Whether or not he'd follow through is something only a decent election outcome could determine. He's certainly far more worthy of trust that the p.o.s. presently stinking up the West Wing.


Good Lord, lets not turn this into another black rifle broo-ha-ha (sp??). I'm with you Mike. I normally vote Republican, but look what those idiots, lead by the idiot-in-chief, have done with their power. I'll take a Dem. I know is good on the environment, who grew up hunting and fishing, and says he'll support the Second Amendment long before I'll take Rep. I know is bad on the environment and says he'll support the Second Amendment. Any day.


I think some people here need to be reminded who has been leading the polls among Republican candidates: Rudy!
I'd trust Edwards with our guns way before I'd trust him--and I think a Democrat could do us a mountain of good with the environment--which has been systematically raped by the Bush administration.


The same could be said of every politician who has ever run for any office. There's no less reason to believe Edward than anyone else in this race.


You Republican loving idiots. You think anyone who'd ruin your environment, spy on you illegally, etc, would let you keep your guns?

LOL. Guillible much? Maybe Romney and his rabbit-huntin charade is your cup of tea.

Josh Medeiros

Some people on here seem to be rather short-sighted, dont let that D next to Edwards cloud your judgment. He's spend most of his life in rural America growing up around the outdoors and hunting. I'm sure he shot a few cans in the backyard himself.

Do you really think someone like Rudy or Romney understand rural America or care much about the envirionment? Lets be real.


If there has ever been a time to forget our old allegiences, this is it. Yes, Democrats have historically hurt us on guns, but no more so than the Republicans have assaulted the environment--particularly in the recent mad rush to extract energy from some of the country's best hunting areas. It's time to forget the letter in front of the candidate's name, as Josh suggests above, and vote for the man who seems to have the best ideas. Will there be some lies mixed in with the promises? Yes. No doubt. But that will be true of every candidate.
You'll have to decide for yourself if you trust Edwards, but you can't deny that he is taking the trouble to speak to us and our interests specifically.


If sucking up to the camo crowd allows him to beat Hillery in the primary then I'll turn the other cheek,and hope that a Tennessee boy can kick his butt in the runn off!


Would you rather a candidate pay no attention to the camo crowd? Whenever anyone of either party tries to pay us any attention, his or her detractors call it "sucking up." It's a meaningless charge.
I want a candidate that sucks up to us; it means that he or she recongizes our collective influence, which is a very good thing.


People tend to forget that political parties exist for one reason and one reason only--winning elections.

The Democrats know they lost the 2000 and 2004 elections in part because the gun vote turned out against them. So in order to win elections they have moderated their position on guns.

Now they have two options: 1) they can lie to get elected and then pursue an anti-gun agenda once in office, or 2) they can stay true to their promises.

Now consider what will happen if they pursue option number one. Yes in the short run they will win elections, but then the gun vote will turn against them again, and they will start losing elections again.

The only way to drastically alter gun ownership in this country is to pass a constitutional amendment overturning the 2nd amendment, which would be impossible given how complicated the process of amending the constitution is.

I will be voting for the environment this time around.


I have to comment on this question from Field and Stream:

"F&S: How do you plan to balance the Roadless Rule with maintaining access to land?"

There never was an issue with maintaining access with the Roadless Rule. What the Roadless Rule did was protect the nations last, rare roadless areas from development. Roadless national forest lands and official wilderness are open to hunting and fishing.

How could you lose access to a place that never had a road, and that which was open to hunting, fishing, hiking, wildlife watching, canoing, and all other sorts of non-motorized recreation?

I think the real question should be:

"How do you plan to implement the Roadless Rule to maintain our hunting and fishing heritage, and to preserve the incredibly important habitat"?

That's the proper wording of the question.

Without Roadless areas, we would have nothing but deer and rabbit hunting in tree farms.

That might be the current administrations view of the outdoors, (who like to hunt on some of their buddies largest private ranches in the nation, just like the feudal system over in Europe) but it certainly isn't mine, and it certainly isn't John Edwards view.

John Edwards is taking the view of the modern sportsman, speaking in terms of habitat conservation as priority #1.

I have no idea who I will vote for as next president, but I can tell you that John Edwards comments in this section are already a gigantic improvement over the current administration's attitude towards public lands.

Don;t beleive me? They tried to sell hundred sof thousands of acres of national forest land recently.

Talk about "maintaining access" Where was that question when this happened?


"The administration maintained that its plan, which involved the sale of almost 300,000 acres of public property within the national forests in 35 states, could generate $800 million."

Do you want a person in office keen on protecting the last great herds of elk, bighorn, moose, mountain goat on our wild, huntable national forest lands, or do you want someone in office who wants to *sell* those lands?

Tough choice.


I see a real strong pattern here. Dems are for the environment and Reps are for guns. I guess I'm perplexed. Everyday I see something in the news with respect to global warming. There is also an apparent connection between hydrocarbon use and this global warming (except for Al Gore he can burn what he wants but that doesnt contribute any carbon). Why then do Dems fight wind power, push for more roadless areas and wilderness areas that eventually will burn. Why does my pickup truck cause pollution when I drive to work, fishing or hunting when a forest fire doesn't?


I am not planning on voting for edwards. However he never said that he would ban AKs, he said that he didnt know of anyone who needed to hunt with one. You can read into it all you want but that is what he said.

Now for all you Bushies out there what do you have to say about Bush saying that he would sign the assault weapons ban if it got to his desk just a couple of years ago.


I cant say as i can trust Edwards with my guns. Considering IF he gets elected he will be inheriting a Dem. congress. From what i just read, I "hear" more political double talk. He admitts he is NOT a hunter. Cant say as i can remeber hunting trout with my.06. (meaning hes not fond of guns)

This being said, I have listened to Mr. edwrds and his ideas now for a few years. He sees serious problems in this nation and has thoughts AND ideas to attempt to change some serious ills.

Plus, if we think about it, this nation has been ran by the same 2 families now for over 2 decades.(Bush Sr. V.P. 80-88, Pres 88-92, Clinton Pres. 92-00, Bush Jr. 00-08) I say its HIGH time for some fresh "blood" in the oval office.

John just might get my vote...i am NOT blinded by party lines nor political double talk...i want and expect ideas and change, change for the better....something we havent had in over 20 years!


I agree Mike, but,

The political process in this country has turned into nothing more than a crap shoot with no prizes. Just put your money on black and hope for the best of the worst.

And the ideas, votes and rhetoric mean nothing until you guys realize; it doesn't matter if there is a donkey or an elephant by the guy's name, all that matters is what he does once he fools everyone to get into office.

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