Senator John Edwards of North Carolina has become the latest Democrat to announce that he is running for president in 2004.
Senator Edwards appeared on NBC's Today program to announce that he has set up an exploratory committee with the intention of running for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination next year.
"Because I want to be a champion for regular people, the same people that I have fought for my whole life," senator Edwards explained. "People like my own family where I was the first to go to college, where my dad worked in the [local] mill, my mom's last job was working at the post office. People I grew up with in a small town in North Carolina."
John Edwards was elected Senator from North Carolina in 1998. He is 49-years-old and made millions of dollars as a successful trial lawyer before he entered politics.
The Edwards announcement was not a surprise. In recent months, Senator Edwards has spoken out against President Bush's tax-cutting policy and has criticized the administration's approach on homeland security.
In his NBC interview, Senator Edwards was asked if he thought Iraq could be disarmed without resorting to military action.
"Oh no, I do not think it is inevitable and I am very hopeful that we will be able to avoid war," he responded. "I mean, the goal of this process is to disarm Saddam Hussein. If in fact at the end of the day it becomes necessary to use military action to do that, we should be willing to do it. But if it can be done short of that, we should also be willing to do that and we should accept victory if we can disarm him without going to war."
Senator Edwards is the third Democrat to announce his intention to run for the White House in 2004. Massachusetts Senator John Kerry and Vermont Governor Howard Dean are already campaigning.
Several more Democrats are expected to decide whether to make the race in the next few weeks. They include Missouri Congressman Richard Gephardt and Senators Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut, Tom Daschle of South Dakota and Bob Graham of Florida. New York civil rights activist Al Sharpton is also expected to run.
The increased political activity follows last month's announcement by former Vice President Al Gore that he will not make another run for president next year.