Edwards Jumps Into Race and Reno

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Former senator and vice presidential candidate John Edwards, who formally announced his candidacy for president on Thursday, is immediately headed for Nevada as he launches his campaign.

Now the No. 2 state for Democrat caucuses, behind Iowa and ahead
of New Hampshire, it's likely Nevada will be abuzz with hopefuls
between now and the 2008 general election.

"We're going to have lots of visits from all the Democratic presidential candidates, so this is really exciting," Teresa Benitez-Thompson, vice chairwoman of the Nevada Democratic Party, said on Thursday.

Edwards will lead the pack with a town hall meeting Friday evening at the Grand Sierra Resort - the former Reno Hilton.

Edwards, 53, jumped into the presidential race a day earlier than planned, prodded by an Internet glitch. The North Carolina Democrat's campaign went live with his election Web site a day before Thursday's formal announcement using hurricane-ravaged New Orleans as a backdrop.

Ironically, one of Edwards' campaign slogans is "Tomorrow Begins Today."

Edwards, a one-term U.S. senator, was the running mate of Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., in the 2004 election.

Benitez-Thompson said Nevada has yet to realize the importance of its role in the early Democrat caucus, brokered with the national party by incoming Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.

"Nevada isn't going to realize how big a thing this is until we have all these candidates coming to Las Vegas, to Reno and small towns like Winnemucca," she said.