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John Edwards: 'Time for Me to Step Aside'

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A full transcript of John Edwards's remarks in New Orleans this afternoon has been made available by his campaign.

By Shailagh Murray
John Edwards abandoned his presidential race this afternoon. But in reality, the former senator's long White House journey ended a year ago, Democrats who are close to Edwards said.

"The moment Barack Obama got in the race, he was done. It just took a full year to play out," said one Democratic operative who is close to the Edwards campaign. Obama, this person said, was simply a fresher and more compelling alternative to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Just days ago, Edwards said he had planned to battle through to the convention, where he could potentially have played a kingmaker role, depending on final delegate counts. But Edwards insiders said the writing was on the wall after Iowa, where Edwards had campaigned virtually non-stop for nearly five years, and where he barely edged out Clinton for second place. Heading into New Hampshire, Edwards' best hope was that Obama would trip up, creating an opening for the scrappy populist. But it didn't happen.

It's worth noting that after New Hampshire, Edwards' wife and close adviser, Elizabeth Edwards, left the campaign trail. He went on to lose by a mile in Nevada. In South Carolina, the state of his birth, Edwards again finished third.

People who know Edwards say that privately, he never kidded himself that his climb to the nomination would be uphill. "He's always been able to look at his situation in an objective way," said one Democratic source who knows the former senator. "He stops and reconsiders based on the moment he is in." But he's also very insular -- which explains why most of his staff knew nothing of his withdrawal intentions until late last night. "Publicly he's been saying, I'm going to the convention, but it's not as if he wasn't thinking, what are my options really?" the Democratic source said.

By Web Politics Editor  |  January 30, 2008; 2:57 PM ET
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