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In N.H., Edwards Supporters' Spirits Flag

By Alec MacGillis
MANCHESTER, N.H. -- John Edwards told supporters in Iowa yesterday evening that they must "continue this march of change" after he finished in second place eight percentage points behind Barack Obama.

But at his campaign headquarters in New Hampshire, the disappointment was palpable. Edwards built up a strong organization here in hopes that he would be able to capitalize on any momentum coming from Iowa in a way he wasn't able to in 2004, when his campaign faded in New Hampshire.

VIDEO: Edwards's remarks after the Iowa caucuses. (AP)

Several dozens members of that team waited, and clustered in silence as cable news anchors called the caucus for Obama. Kate Bedingfield, the campaign's New Hampshire press secretary, tried to rally spirits, saying of the delegate totals, "Hey, they're all there right on top of each other." The room stayed silent. Then a knock came on the door: the pizza guy. For that, there was a smattering of applause.

Beth Leonard, the campaign's state director, tried again to lift the mood. "This is so close. They outspent us two to three to one," she said. Of the campaign's Iowa troops.H.,, she added, "They worked so hard. Now it's our turn to take this strong, strong finish and bring this home for John Edwards."

The staffers and volunteers ate some pizza, and then watched Edwards' speech, responding with notably moderated applause. A flash of pleasure came a few moments later when Clinton dropped a point behind Edwards into third place. By the time Obama took the podium to speak, most of the Edwards team had gone home, leaving a room filled with empty pizza boxes and walls plastered with the phone bank lists, canvassing assignment and primary day sign-ups of a campaign that this time was ready for a win.

By Web Politics Editor  |  January 4, 2008; 1:07 AM ET
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