EDWARDS ’08…. I’m officially neutral on the race for the Democratic presidential nomination, but I don’t mind admitting that I like John Edwards — who officially threw his hat into the ring this morning — and consider him a strong top-tier candidate.

Former North Carolina senator John Edwards this morning declared his candidacy for president in 2008, sounding a populist call for citizen action to reduce the U.S. troop presence in Iraq, combat poverty and global warming and help restore America’s moral leadership in the world.

Using a neighborhood devastated by Hurricane Katrina as his backdrop, Edwards said New Orleans symbolizes not only the theme of two Americas — haves and have-nots — that was the underpinning of his 2004 presidential campaign but also the power of ordinary citizens to take responsibility for their own futures.

By all indications, the Edwards ’08 campaign will have a very different style from Edwards ’04. The first campaign was slow to embrace technology; the new campaign included a YouTube video announcement. The first one sought support from the DC establishment; the new one vows to be a “grassroots, ground-up campaign where we ask people to take action.”

Edwards also laid out a policy agenda that will be the basis for his campaign: “Provide moral leadership in the world,” “strengthen our middle class and end poverty,” “guarantee universal health care for every American,” “lead the fight against global warming,” and “get America and other countries off our addiction to oil.”

He’ll have some high hurdles to clear — most notably, he’s starting off with practically no money in his campaign coffers — but given his base of support, aggressive outreach over the last two years, his mea culpa over the 2002 vote for the war Iraq, and strong qualities as a campaigner, it’s safe to assume Edwards is going to be a major player in this contest.

What do readers think? A voice for the future or yesterday’s news? I’m all ears.

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Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.