LOS ANGELES Edwards touts role as 'outsider'

Strickland and Ryan remain uncommitted.
LOS ANGELES -- Seeking to derail John Kerry's drive toward the Democratic presidential nomination, John Edwards used a debate Thursday to take sharp yet subtle shots yet at the front-runner.
"Do you believe that change is more likely to be brought about by someone who has spent 20 years in Washington?" said Edwards, a first-term senator who frequently cites his roots as the son of a mill worker. "Or by someone who is more of an outsider to this process?"
Kerry, the son of a diplomat, said, "I've had experiences that John hasn't had," citing his tour of duty in the Vietnam War, a stint as a local prosecutor, and nearly two decades in the U.S. Senate.
"Leading and fighting in international affairs, national security, military affairs is critical to what this country needs today in terms of leadership," the Massachusetts senator said during the 90-minute debate at the University of Southern California.
Tuesday contests
Having won 18 of the first 20 Democratic primaries and caucuses, Kerry is looking to sweep Edwards out of the race in 10 contests Tuesday. They include such delegate-rich states as New York, California and Ohio.
Kerry and Edwards each won important endorsements in Ohio on Thursday, boosting their support less than a week before the state's primary election.
Rep. Sherrod Brown, a Democrat from Lorain in northern Ohio, said he was backing Kerry for president because the Massachusetts senator is better for the economy. Meanwhile, state Sen. Mark Mallory of Cincinnati announced he was supporting Edwards.
"Kerry has the leadership skills that few have in this business. He gets it, what needs to be done with the Ohio economy," Brown said in an interview with The Associated Press.
Kerry and Edwards both campaigned in Ohio this week. At stake are the state's 140 delegates, which will be awarded after the March 2 primary.
Brown and Mallory are among Ohio's 16 "superdelegates" who will automatically attend the Democratic National Convention. Their vote for the Democratic presidential nominee at the nominating convention July 26-29 is not tied to Ohio's primary election outcome.
Of that group, four delegates have endorsed Kerry; two support Edwards; and candidate Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Cleveland is supporting himself.
Other than Brown, Kerry has won endorsements from Dayton Mayor Rhine L. McLin, Dart County Chairwoman Enid Goubeaux and AFL-CIO's Ohio chapter President William Burga.
Edwards won an early absentee vote from former Ohio and U.S. Treasurer Mary Ellen Withrow.
"My thinking was that I really want to see him as the Vice President and I know John Kerry is ahead, so I thought I would give John Edwards some support," Withrow said.
Reps. Ted Strickland, who had supported Missouri Congressman Dick Gephardt for president, and Tim Ryan, who had supported former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, both remained uncommitted after their chosen candidates dropped out of the race.
Reps. Marcy Kaptur and Stephanie Tubbs Jones also remain uncommitted.