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Edwards Team Sees Three-Way Race

Updated: 10:36 p.m.
By Peter Slevin
DES MOINES -- "The status quo lost and change won," John Edwards told a cheering crowd at a downtown Des Moines hotel after placing second in Iowa's Democratic caucuses. "We saw two candidates who thought their money made them inevitable."

But Iowa voters, he said, showed that "if you have a little backbone, a little courage," you can deliver a powerful message, and "that message to the American people is unstoppable, no matter how much money."

He then delivered sober parts of his stump speech about suffering Americans. The crowd went from cheers to silence, only roaring again when he talked about caucus night.

"What began tonight in the heartland of America," Edwards concluded, "is Iowa caucusgoers said, ' Enough is enough!' You have created a wave of change, a tidal wave of change."

As he finished, Edwards said, "Thank you for second place."

"It's undeniably a three-way race. Game on," said Edwards strategist Jonathan Prince. "We were competitive in a caucus that was like a primary. More than 200,000 showed up. Everybody thought we'd be in trouble if the number went above 120,000."

Among those skeptics were senior members of Edwards's own campaign team.

Earlier in the evening, campaign manager David Bonior told a cheering crowd, "Change won!"

"John Edwards took on some of the most powerful machines in this country. He beat the Clinton machine here," added Bonior.

Edwards strategist Joe Trippi said the result was a repudiation of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, and Washington broadly.

"Seventy percent walked in and said, 'We want change and we're not going back,'" Trippi said, combining the support for Edwards and Illinois Sen. Barack Obama.

"We feel we're in a strong position going into New Hampshire. We've got the resources to do it."

By Washington Post editors  |  January 3, 2008; 10:36 PM ET
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