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In NH, Edwards Fights to Stay in the Mix


John Edwards is banking on nice guys finishing last. (Getty Images).

By Joel Achenbach
CONCORD, N.H. -- What about John Edwards?

Since the Iowa caucuses, the news has been filled with the names Obama and Clinton, Clinton and Obama. You've got the fresh young senator from Illinois against the famous, long-controversial senator from New York. But what about that former senator from North Carolina, who, with less money than his rivals, came in second in Iowa (as he did in 2004) with nearly one of every three Democratic votes?

Edwards is one of the most ferocious campaigners ever seen on the trail. He campaigned 36 hours non-stop in Iowa at one point. He had the earliest event Friday morning (6:15 a.m. on the schedule) and will stump all day today with hardly a break to prepare for tonight's crucial debate. There is no margin of error for Edwards, no backup plan: He has to find a way to stay at the center of the primary narrative despite the almost reflexive tendency of the news media to frame the race as Front-runner and Challenger.

At a Shriner's hall here this morning, Edwards walked in with his million-dollar smile, without any obvious hint of the fatigue so evident among some other candidates. He's disciplined on the stump, sticking not only to the standard themes but using identical sentences, even identical stressed syllables, regardless of venue. If there's anything new this morning it may be the extra dollop of sarcasm that drips from his words when he talks about his chief rivals. For example, he took what sounded like a shot at Barack Obama's politics of hope, suggesting that it's naïve to think that the entrenched special interests of Washington can be wooed into changing their ways.

"You can't NICE them to death. It doesn't work. They will drive through you like a freight train."

He mentioned a woman who had to raid her child's college fund to pay for a cancer operation.

"She needs more than a HUG," he said.

Don't replace corporate Republicans with corporate Democrats, he said, because it won't make any difference -- an apparent shot at Hillary Rodham Clinton. The only change, he said, would be that "different people will go to the cocktail parties in Washington."

His core theme hasn't change in weeks: "We are faced with an epic fight, we are, against these entrenched, monied interests that are stealing your democracy."

He said the Iowa results indicate that voters are sick of the status quo. He twice jabbed the national news media for casting the race as a two-person contest, when, in fact, there are three leading candidates. Only late in his stump speech did he mention his two chief rivals by name.

"I'm going to be fine when this election is over. So is Barack Obama and so is Hillary Clinton....The question is whether America will be fine."

When he finishes speaking he'll head up to Lebanon, about an hour away in the mountains, then down to Peterborough in the southern part of the state, before heading to the debate.

By Web Politics Editor  |  January 5, 2008; 11:47 AM ET
Categories:  B_Blog , Joel's New Hampshire Diary  
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Comments

There is one Democratic candidate who has driven the issues of this campaign from day one, and that is John Edwards. He was the first to espouse the necessity of universal health care coverage in this campaign (and still the only one whose health care plan is truly all-inclusive), the first to make the plight of the middle and lower class a centerpiece of his campaign, and so far as I know, the only one to call for much-needed campaign and lobbying reform prior to tonight's debate when yet again I heard Barack Obama making points I first heard from John Edwards in a Concord NH living room in January of 2007.

With the challenges facing us as a nation - to restore the strength and sanctity of our Constitution, to rebuild our military, or economy, and our image in the eyes of the world, we need more than a communicator. We need a fighter.

I do not believe there is any way the insurance companies are going to be convinced to sit nicely at a table and talk rationally and calmly about what is best for the American people any more than I believe the warring factions in Iraq are going to sit calmly and rationally and talk about what is best for their country.

To lead us in these challenges, we need someone with grit. Someone who has proved he is not afraid of -- and not beholden to -- any special interests. We need someone whose ONE interest, whose ONLY interest, is the strength, well-being, and prosperity of the United States of American and its citizens.

For my money, that candidate is John Edwards.

Posted by: daphnecharette | January 6, 2008 3:01 AM | Report abuse

Don't you Edwards supporters ever get tired of his constant "fight the power" rhetoric? In the debate tonight he kept repeating the same stuff and railing against the special interests but offered no solution.

He seems to want people to believe that he is the last uncorruptible person on earth. Are Obama and Clinton any worse than he is?

In the unlikely event that Edwards is nominated, he is going to have to drop a lot of those themes and move to the center if he is going to have any chance of being elected. Some of you will be disillusioned by this.

In the even more unlikely event that he is elected, he is going to have to work with the groups that he repeatedly castigates if he is going to be able to govern. That will lead to even more disillusionment for you guys.

I can't blame Edwards for all the ranting and raving because he knows he has to do it to differentiate himself from Obama and Clinton so he can have a chance. He is simply doing it to get elected.

But supporters of Edwards should be smart enough to see through it or they are in for a world of disillusionment. You true believers should hope that Edwards loses.

If he wins and you see all the backtracking he does, you will be cynical about politics forever like me.

Posted by: danielhancock | January 6, 2008 12:28 AM | Report abuse

It looks like Mark Penn instructed Hillary to take out the knives tonight. Three times she tried to elevate the discussion into a shouting match - and three times she was rebuked.

I understand that Hillary is worried... she has good reason to be. But what is it today... the nice Hillary...then the attack dog Hillary... then, as the polls dictate, the sweet sincere Hillary ? Can't this person be genuine and more than poll driven ?

Barack Obama for President of the United States of America.

Posted by: PulSamsara | January 5, 2008 11:29 PM | Report abuse

The reason that Obama and Edwards seem to have similar positions is because Mr. Obama has "borrowed" quite a lot of John Edwards' statements and ideas. But, because Edwards can't catch a break with the media, no one seems to see this but me. I've been following Edwards since 2004 and I'm amazed at how some of the Obama statements come almost word-for-word from what Edwards has previously said. Edwards has been nationally tested, is unwavering and tireless. Mr Obama is a rock star of politics but he will be eaten alive by the Republicans. We need a fighter not a lover. Vote Edwards!

Posted by: val.stewart | January 5, 2008 10:06 PM | Report abuse

Raulffer, I believe your vision from Rio is 20/20. Edwards is the president we need now, and he can win it.

The "pundits" have decided the nomination will go to Obama; the Republicans hope so.

Undecideds out there, give John Edwards'
policy proposals a serious look and listen to what he has to say. He has been consistent in his message--unlike others--and has not been afraid to offer specifics. He tells the truth when we'd so much rather get out our rose colored glasses. He respects the voters enough to keep telling the truth over and over, no matter where he is speaking or to whom.

As as much as I'd like for the coming years to be easy, it's not likely, as big a mess as there is to clean up. John Edwards is the one who can get us to where we need to be--and in a way that will make us all proud.

Posted by: lucindashirley | January 5, 2008 8:20 PM | Report abuse

EDWARDS versus AMERICA'S JIHADISTS

John Edwards is our only hope if we want our Constitution back - a government of, by and for the People, not by and for corporate America.

Obama could not have been as successful as he was in Iowa nor can he be elected without the support of America's jihadists, the hawks and corporate executives who make up the industrial/military complex. The only change Obama can guarantee if elected is the name of the President.

Posted by: marrobcastle | January 5, 2008 8:17 PM | Report abuse

I'm a brazilian observer (sorry about my English). From down here - Rio de Janeiro -maybe we can see better. The true question is: who can beat the Republicans in November? I think America is not ready to elect a woman or a black man as a president. Edwards is a good, courageous man and a fighter. Remember the next day after the 2004 elections (Ohio, Ohio...Florida, Florida...)? Edwards was against the Kerry's position to concede the victory (bad day for Mankind) ...

Posted by: raulffer | January 5, 2008 7:03 PM | Report abuse

How anyone can plausibly claim that Edwards would be the best dem to beat the GOP in the general election is beyond me. This fool left the Senate because he had no chance of winning a second term. Puh-leeze! If the GOP nominated Alan Keyes, Edwards would still lose. The stench of failure is all around him (and his cheesy hairpiece).

Posted by: sulli4812 | January 5, 2008 6:54 PM | Report abuse

For all of you folks who appreciate what Michael Moore has done with his films you might want to check out this open letter he wrote and posted on his website.

Who Do We Vote For This Time Around?
A Letter from Michael Moore


http://www.michaelmoore.com/words/message/index.php?id=220

Posted by: pmorlan1 | January 5, 2008 6:04 PM | Report abuse

I have to shake my head whenever I hear people think that there is something wrong with consistently talking about special interests having a stranglehold in Washington. Edwards says it over and over because it's true and until we do something about it nothing will change.

It's troubling that when we finally get a candidate willing to put himself on the line and tell the truth that we have people who will not only make fun of him but reward the candidates who are willing to change their message if they think they will get more votes. No wonder our country is in such a mess. We have way too many citizens that just don't recognize when they're being played.

The corporate media who give Edwards little to no coverage even after he beat Hillary prove what Edwards has been saying. Entrenched interests do have a stranglehold on our country. When the guy that finishes 2nd place in the first contest is deliberately marginalized so that the 3rd place candidate can get more traction we need to be asking why this is happening not making petty jokes that give the media the cover they need to do it.

Posted by: pmorlan1 | January 5, 2008 5:53 PM | Report abuse

John Edwards loses me completely with his "we can't talk things out"pitch. He just wants to fight, and he condemns Obama's desire to have dialogue. Well, that means I can't support Edwards, because one thing George Bush has shown me is that we desperately need to talk to the other side, not just wage war right from the start. Edwards has a losing philosophy. He will never get anything done that way. It will be more partisan gridlock in Congress and nothing will get solved. I am sorry Edwards. Your populist pitch is wrongheaded and a big turn off to me and others I have talked with. As a Progressive, I value dialog. I value working together to solve problems. So when you attack Obama for his approach to problems, you are attacking my own values. It's time to stop fighting. It's time to get things done. Edwards is going way to far off the deep end for me.

Posted by: goldie2 | January 5, 2008 5:33 PM | Report abuse

No Republican can win in 2008. The republican party is too fractured. Evangelicals won't vote Romney, Moderates won't vote for a evangelical (they blame them for pulling the party too far to the right) and anyone who wants change won't vote for McCain. So the fact that Edwards could win is besides the point, any of the Democrats would win. The press is fixated on Obama vs Clinton and is certainly not giving Edwards the coverage he deserves. That's the way the media works....where's the story. Americans are tired of the culture wars, they never believed in the Iraq war and they're certainly not going to by into a all out anti-corporation war. Edwards is right, the corporate rightwing fanatics need to be stopped...or made irrelevant. Watch them scream themselves into irrelevancy when Obama gets the nomination.

Posted by: thebobbob | January 5, 2008 4:57 PM | Report abuse

the French have a saying: "le plus les choses paraissent changer le plus ils restent les mêmes"!
"The more things seem to change the more they remain the same".
Barack Obama's change is built on an emotional level to which most people respond to, because they cannot and do not think for themselves.
Obama can never win a fight with the Washington insiders, most of whom do not like him at all.
He is NO intellectual giant!

Posted by: vjg75235 | January 5, 2008 4:46 PM | Report abuse

With all due respect to 'diksagev', that's the same crap the Kerry campaign used to try and strong-arm Dean supporters in 2004. I've not of heard anyone from the DNC leadership sending memos to repeat that strategy this time around.

So, which campaign are you with... Obama? Or Clinton? :)

This is not the general election, and it's most certainly not a coronation. We are all here to voice our opinion on the best candidate to represent our values and concerns - and it's about time someone let's the VOTERS have their say.

We've already dealt with front-loading of the primary/caucus schedule, obscene campaign spending amounts, and juggernaut 'inevitability' campaigns, not to mention the usual bag of tricks by political operatives of all stripes.

The best thing that John Edwards supporters in NH could do at this time to help the Democratic party and the entire country is vote for the candidate they truly support: SENATOR JOHN EDWARDS.

Posted by: wcdemspicnic | January 5, 2008 4:39 PM | Report abuse

Katy 7540, you said;

"I take issue with the idea that Edwards placed high in Iowa with less money than the other front runners. In many precincts Edwards was barely viable and benefitted with a little boost in the Iowa caucuses from the non-viability of Biden, Dodd, Kucinich & Richardson.

Edwards has less money because he has fewer supporters. Although he has benefitted from a top campaign aide leaving his campaign to raise money from special interest groups to run false attack ads against Obama.

Obama runs a clean grassroots supported campaign and does not take money from Washington lobbyists! I take issue that Edwards now throws Obama into the same bag as Clinton who DOES take money from Washington lobbyists.

Edwards and Clinton have enjoyed the advantage of being well known across the country from the beginning. Obama's climb in the polls over months reflects the fact that when ordinary people have the opportunity to know him, they support him with hard work, and donations."

Katy, you sound like you are very young, one who is vulnerable to the Obama cultists. Just because the programmers TELL you that Obama is running a clean campaign and has never taken money from lobbyists, please research for yourself. It might benefit you as opposed to spouting off about something that you so obviously know so little about.

For instance, did you know that Obama has PAID lobbyists on his staff? Did you know that Fortune Magazine recently disclosed that while Hillary Clinton has received more money from Wall Street interests, Barack Obama has received the second highest amount of Wall Street interest dollars, more than all of the Republican candidates put together?

Here are a few web sites for you to research your candidate.


"Barack Obama Inc.: The birth of a Washington machine" by Ken Silverstein (Harper's Magazine)


TheHill.com - Obama's K Street project

http://opensecrets.org/politicians/allsummary.asp?CID=N00009638


Take issue with the knowledge that you really know very little about your candidate of choice. I take issue that so few Obama cultists actually KNOW the what's real and what isn't regarding their candidate ... and his votes, or lack thereof. He's missed about 83% of senate votes since he's been a US Senator so you just don't know where he really stands on the issues he says he believes in. If you talk the talk, walk the walk.

Face it, Obama has one item in his bag of tricks and it is this; he was against the war in 2002. He had the wisdom to oppose it, but not the wisdom to deny funding for it once he became a US senator, that is until he was scrutinized.

As to your statement that Obama was an unknown unlike Clinton and Edwards, apparently you weren't watching the 2004 convention when he gave his wonderful speech that launched him into the national spotlight and he became a household name.

Posted by: SSmith8562 | January 5, 2008 4:29 PM | Report abuse

I have been saying what no one else realizes and that is that if it wasn't for Oprah's appearance Obama would not have won in Iowa. In an Obama administration could it be possible that Oprah will replace Condi -stranger things have happened!!!
However, Obama does NOT get my vote in a general election - Edwards is THE MAN!

Posted by: vjg75235 | January 5, 2008 4:02 PM | Report abuse

The best thing that John Edwards supporters in NH could do at this time to help the Democratic party and the entire country is vote for Senator Obama.

Edwards does not stand for anything that Senator Obama doesn't stand for and Obama is the one with the votes and the finances to actually win the White House. The biggest potential impediment to keeping Hillary Clinton, or possibly her GOP opponent if she is the Democratic nominee, from occupying the Oval office is John Edwards. America said NO to John Edwards as the Democratic nominee in 2004 and then punctuated that statement by rejecting him as part of the Kerry/Edwards ticket in Vovember of that year. If Edwards is really all about change and the issues that he says he stands for instead of seeking power for himself, he should step aside. Iowa was a gentle reminder of 2004 and it's time Edwards got that message.

Posted by: diksagev | January 5, 2008 3:52 PM | Report abuse

EDWARDS CAN WIN the national election!
The media and major donors largely ignore him because he is a major threat to their power agendas. Who else, besides Kucinich has been as specific about the troop withdrawal from Iraq, universal health care, resoration of the economy, direct help for the poor and middle class? Don't wrtie him off...write him IN in the primaries and support him with funds...he needs even the smallest donations.
An EDWARDS/OBAMA ticket would be fabulous and a winner for the Democratic party in 2008.

Posted by: Peaches7 | January 5, 2008 3:29 PM | Report abuse

John Edwards is the only Democratic candidate that beat the other side. There have been many polls to show that. He is fighting not only his rivals, but the media who can only talk about Barack and Hillary. Get out of DC and talk to some of the rest of the country. I live in a very big state and John Edwards wins every poll taken. John Edwards is strong and beholden to no one! He is also smart and has the plans - portions of which have been borrowed by two other candidates when it becomes necessary for them to have an answer.

Posted by: dbmc | January 5, 2008 3:15 PM | Report abuse

I take issue with the idea that Edwards placed high in Iowa with less money than the other frontrunners. In many precincts Edwards was barely viable and benefitted with a little boost in the Iowa caucuses from the non-viability of Biden, Dodd, Kucinich & Richardson.

Edwards has less money because he has fewer supporters. Although he has benefitted from a top campaign aide leaving his campaign to raise money from special interest groups to run false attack ads against Obama.

Obama runs a clean grassroots supported campaign and does not take money from Washington lobbyists! I take issue that Edwards now throws Obama into the same bag as Clinton who DOES take money from Washington lobbyists.

Edwards and Clinton have enjoyed the advantage of being well known across the country from the beginning. Obama's climb in the polls over months reflects the fact that when ordinary people have the opportunity to know him, they support him with hard work, and donations.

Posted by: Katy7540 | January 5, 2008 2:46 PM | Report abuse

John Edwards has been telling the same story for several years. Good story. Passion! Energy! But... same old story. There is nothing new in his message....he's locked in to a minority of democratic true believers....he cannot breakout and take away Hillary voters - not enough time...he'll be out of money by super Tuesday...and never exceed his shrinking potion of the electorate....Face it.

Posted by: gandalfthegrey | January 5, 2008 2:02 PM | Report abuse

Edwards can't win New Hampshire or any other state following it, so the verdict is clear: Obama has the nomination in hand unless Hillary beats him on Tuesday.

http://www.political-buzz.com/

Posted by: parkerfl | January 5, 2008 1:05 PM | Report abuse

Democratic New Hampshire Primary -- Prediction Time!

Who do you predict will win the Democratic New Hampshire Primary?

http://www.youpolls.com/details.asp?pid=1446
.
.
.
Republican New Hampshire Primary - Prediction Time!

Who do you predict will win the Republican New Hampshire Primary?

http://www.youpolls.com/details.asp?pid=1445

.

Posted by: PollM | January 5, 2008 12:34 PM | Report abuse

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