There was only one thing wrong with John Edwards’s presidential campaign: He was running against two rock stars. Otherwise, Edwards did everything right.

He was the first to perceive a growing and dangerous gap in this country between the very, very wealthy and working men and women. And the first to draw our attention to what has become, indeed, “Two Americas.”

He was also the first candidate since Robert F. Kennedy to talk about the scandalous number of poor people among us — and dedicate himself to ending poverty in this country.

And John Edwards was the first to come forth with a proposal to provide every man, woman and child with decent, basic healthcare. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama came on board later, but Edwards’s plan remained the most detailed and offered the most coverage. And Edwards wasn’t afraid to say he’d raise taxes to pay for it.

Edwards didn’t hesitate to admit he was wrong, either — as he readily did about his vote to authorize the use of force in Iraq. Having rejected that vote, Edwards became the leading champion of ending the war in Iraq and bringing our troops home.

John Edwards was a great candidate. With him out of the race, Clinton and Obama should take his ideas — and run with them.