October 5, 2004 at 9:24 PM EST - Updated July 26 at 10:26 PM
Senator John Edwards began his day talking to voters at a town meeting just outside Cleveland.
"I want to say to all of you, when i walk into that debate tonight and i sit down, i am there for you. I don't want to do it any other way."
That strong empathy for people is what people who know edwards say is his trademark.
Wilmington lawyer Gary Shipman has known edwards for 20 years.
"John Edwards without a doubt is one of the most passionate people that i've ever been around. He's been that way as a lawyer and as a politician, so the first thing you will see tonight is passion," says Shipman.
Shipman...a Democratic Party activist... also says edwards is always prepared and quick on his feet.
He believes tonight's debate will raise Edwards' profile nationally.
He is a relative newcomer to the political scene and therefore he has been able to energize voters, both independent and democratic, better than anyone probably since the days of John Kennedy."
And we have exactly four weeks left to see if edwards performance in this debate could make a difference in this election.