Page last updated at 14:39 GMT, Wednesday, 30 January 2008

Profile: John Edwards

John Edwards campaigning in Iowa in Feb 2007
John Edwards turned to politics after a career as a lawyer

John Edwards, the Democrats' nominee for vice-president in 2004, has dropped out of the 2008 White House race, after failing to win a single primary or caucus.

This was his second run at the White House.

He fought for his party's nomination in 2004, losing out to John Kerry, but ran a strong enough second in the race to grab the number two slot on the ticket.

He began signalling his intention to run again as soon as it was clear he and Mr Kerry had failed to knock George W Bush and Dick Cheney out of the White House.

But despite strong messages - courting key constituencies such as union members, floating proposals on health care and repudiating his vote in favour of the Iraq war - it was the news that his wife Elizabeth's cancer had returned that grabbed the headlines in the early stages of his campaign.

In the months since, she has embraced an outspoken role in a campaign that has become increasingly focused on the gap between America's rich and poor and Mr Edwards' intention to fight special interest groups in Washington.

Elizabeth, also a lawyer by training, was treated for breast cancer after the 2004 presidential campaign. The cancer has now spread to her bones, meaning it is incurable.

Legal career

Mr Edwards is a former trial lawyer and self-made millionaire who frequently highlights his humble beginnings.

He was raised in North Carolina, the son of a mill worker and a postal employee.

Born 10 June 1953 in Seneca, South Carolina, and raised in North Carolina
Graduated in law from UNC Chapel Hill, 1977
Personal-injury lawyer, 1977-1998
US senator, 1999-2005
Married with three surviving children
He became the first member of his family to attend university, and graduated with a law degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

He has said he grew up with an idealistic view of lawyers as people who "could help people who couldn't help themselves and couldn't fight for themselves".

Mr Edwards fought a number of high-profile personal-injury suits against large companies, winning millions of dollars in compensation and damages for his clients.

His summation in a 1997 case earned praise as "the most impressive legal performance I have ever seen" from Mike Dayton, editor of North Carolina Lawyers Weekly, in a Washington Monthly magazine article highlighting Mr Edwards as a politician to watch.

Turn to politics

That 2001 profile came after Mr Edwards had been a politician for only three years.

He had turned to politics in the late 1990s, after his eldest son Wade was killed in a car crash at the age of 16. He has three surviving children.

He set his sights on a Senate seat and defeated incumbent Launch Faircloth of North Carolina in 1998.

In Washington, he positioned himself as an advocate for health care and immigration reform and as an opponent of the Bush tax cuts.

He was an early backer of the Iraq war and voted for the controversial Patriot Act, which expanded government powers in the wake of the 11 September 2001 attacks.

White House aims

He did not run for re-election to the Senate in 2004, focusing on his presidential - and later vice-presidential - campaign instead.

He struck a populist note on the national campaign trail, denouncing what he called "the two Americas" - one for the rich and another for the poor.

After he and Mr Kerry were defeated in 2004, he became the head of an anti-poverty centre at his alma mater, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Mr Edwards continued to focus on social issues in his 2008 campaign, rolling out a health care proposal and backing workers' rights.

After strong performances in some early polls, by the beginning of the primary season he was running consistently below the front-running candidates - former First Lady and Senator Hillary Clinton and Illinois Senator Barack Obama.

He failed to raise nearly as much money as his rivals and struggled to make an impact, despite a better-than-expected second-place finish in the 3 January caucuses in Iowa, where he invested much of his campaigning effort.

He came third in all of the subsequent contests, before withdrawing form the race on 30 January.

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