Edwards Evening News Roundup: Facing Off the Money Wimps Edition

1. Edwards: Coming to a precinct near you

Edwards is emerging a bit more into the media. Could it be that they're facing the reality of a possible Edwards win?

WASHINGTON - With pundits focusing on the back-and-forth between front-runners Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton, former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards is being largely overlooked by the mainstream media covering the Democratic presidential race. Maybe that's just where Edwards wants to be 17 days before the first-in-the-nation Iowa caucus.

The former vice presidential candidate, who graces the cover of the latest Newsweek under the title, "The Sleeper," achieved a surprising second-place showing in Iowa in 2004, due in part to his ability to stay above the fray as front-runners Howard Dean and Dick Gephardt pummeled each other. Now, with Clinton and Obama at each other's throats, insiders like David Yepsen of the Des Moines Register have noted an uptick in Edwards' numbers in the Hawkeye State and predict that Edwards could muster a strong finish there, propelling him in subsequent contests in New Hampshire and South Carolina.


A new video posted on his Web site presents the lighter side of the former senator's campaign, while still pushing a crucial message. Framed as a mock movie preview, which casts the Edwards family as the protagonists and the Jan. 3 caucus as the main event, the ad proclaims, "In a world where corn grows tall, and hope grows taller, where people have a special power to decide the fate of a nation, in our most desperate hour, one man can clean up George Bush's mess, and restore the promise of America."


2. Edwards: Celebrities, Populism in NH

Ever the workhorse, Edwards is battling in New Hampshire. The week he's been joined again with Bonnie Raitt and Jackson Browne...and rocking as he works...which is exactly what we need a in president, someone who can multitask.

LEBANON, N.H. (AP) — Democrat John Edwards is going populist on TV and yoking himself to celebrities in person as he hunts for a winning formula in next month's New Hampshire primary.

He's also suggesting he's the candidate whose message comes from the heart.

Fighting hard in a three-way race in Iowa, Edwards also is looking ahead to New Hampshire, which holds the nation's first primary on Jan. 8, five days after the Iowa caucuses. He's in third place in New Hampshire, but with six appearances here over two days, starting Tuesday, a 24-hour blitz planned after Christmas, a new ad and slightly increased staffing, Edwards hopes he can position himself well enough to make a big push after Iowa.

Singer-songwriters Bonnie Raitt and Jackson Browne are traveling with him for the two days, reprising their help of last month in Iowa, and they kicked things off with a performance before the jammed Lebanon Opera House here, the first of five events. Edwards' wife, Elizabeth, and daughter, Cate, also appeared with him. Edwards heads back to Iowa on Thursday.

"We don't lend our endorsement lightly. We are here for a reason," Raitt said. "We got to get this guy elected so we can have real change and not just lip service."

The candidates are using every tool they can in the homestretch leading up to the primary race's early and crucial voting, and celebrities are being called to all sides. They have included TV queen Oprah Winfrey making high-profile appearances for Barack Obama, and actor Chuck Norris accompanying Mike Huckabee.


One woman in the audience asked Edwards why she should pick him.

He replied, "You have to decide: Does it sound like we're saying something we figured out we were supposed to say, that's careful and calculating? ... You can tell the difference. You don't need me to tell you that."

Browne and Raitt are co-founders of Musicians United For Safe Energy, a group that works against the spread of nuclear power. Edwards opposes the construction of more nuclear power plants. "


3. John Edwards: a long-shot political fighter

Edwards the long-shot underdog? Ya...the story of his life. Even President Clinton acknowledges that Edwards might win Iowa. I know some people are pushing it as a conspiracy to boost Edwards so that Clinton can beat him later down the road because you know, there was no way for her to beat him NOW, with all the money and free media coverage she received.

WASHINGTON (AFP) — John Edwards, a former senator and ex-running mate to Democrat John Kerry in 2004, is widely viewed as an underdog with a fighting chance in the political race for the White House.

The third-place presidential hopeful, who often fails to grab the spotlight drawn by Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, is campaigning furiously in the key electoral state of Iowa, where he needs to garner significant support in order to keep his campaign hopes alive.

Described as "relentless" and a person who "hates to lose," Newsweek magazine predicted the former trial lawyer could surprise the pundits and win in Iowa by "wrapping up smaller, far-flung precincts" even if he loses out on the state's bigger cities.


Edwards, a wealthy lawyer who is the son of a textile worker, emphasized throughout his campaign the "two Americas" theme, describing the clash between the haves and have-nots; the corporate giants versus the individual.

"One of the reasons that we've lost jobs, we're having trouble creating jobs, we're having trouble growing and strengthening the middle class is because corporate power and greed have literally taken over the government," he said in a debate Thursday.

"If you want a fighter ... you are looking at somebody -- I'm 54 years old -- who has spent his entire life engaged in this fight and winning this fight that we must win to be able to do the things that we want to do for this country."

That kind of pizzazz has driven Edwards higher in the campaign polls. According to an average of polls compiled by RealClearPolitics.com, Edwards has 23 percent of likely voters' support in Iowa, compared to 26.3 for Clinton and 29.8 for Obama.

Making the rounds of political talk shows over the weekend, Edwards emphasized the next step in the campaign, stressing that he would be the candidate most able to stand up to any Republican foe.

"I'm the strongest candidate in the general election," Edwards told ABC news on Sunday.

Even former president Bill Clinton, whose wife Hillary has seen her lead over her Democratic rival slip in recent weeks, acknowledged on Friday that Edwards is a formidable contender.

"Edwards is really good," Clinton told PBS television. "You are underestimating his chances. Edwards might win in Iowa."


4. Yepsen: Don't Rule Out Surges by Edwards, Thompson

Speaking of Iowa, the ever erratic?...volatile?...wily?...Yepsen had this input.

By contrast, Edwards and his people never quit, no matter how bleak things got in recent months. On Monday, he picked up Iowa first lady Mari Culver's endorsement. And he still shows enough strength in rural Iowa that Obama is devoting considerable time to those areas these days in an effort to take some of the anti-Hillary vote from Edwards.

Proof of Edwards' uptick and Obama's jitters about him came Monday in Spencer, when Obama told a crowd: "Senator Edwards, who is a good guy, he's been talking a lot about 'I'm going to fight the lobbyists and the special interests in Washington.' Well, the question you have to ask is: Were you fighting for (citizens) when you were in the Senate?"



5. Edwards Campaign: Coming soon: Campaign unveils movie trailer

I can't wait for this movie to hit the voting booths here in NY!

Des Moines, Iowa – Building on its growing momentum in Iowa following the endorsement of Iowa First Lady Mari Culver, today the Edwards campaign unveiled a theatrical trailer that encourages caucus goers to take action and make John Edwards our next President. The trailer, narrated by well-known voiceover artist and Edwards supporter George DelHoyo, is a new organizational tool to drive undecided caucus goers and supporters to the campaign’s Caucus Command Center, where they can learn more about Edwards and get all the information they need to caucus for him on January 3rd.

In addition to encouraging Iowans to visit the Caucus Command Center, the trailer also shows caucus goers the great possibilities for our country with Edwards as President and discusses the special power that Iowans have to make the big changes America needs. It encourages Iowans to join the Edwards team and help bring big change to our country. The trailer stars John Edwards, as well as his wife Elizabeth, and children, Cate, Jack and Emma Claire.

“This fun and inspiring trailer is another creative tool from our campaign to energize supporters and make sure they are ready to caucus and put John Edwards in the White House,” said Jennifer O’Malley Dillon, Iowa State Director. “We are always looking for innovative and exciting new ways to spread John Edwards’ vision of One America. As the caucuses get closer, our campaign is doing everything it can to reach out to undecided caucus goers and make sure our supporters are prepared to caucus for John Edwards.”

The trailer is posted on the Caucus Command Center (www.caucuscommandcenter.com) and is being emailed to supporters throughout Iowa and across the country by acclaimed actor Kevin Bacon. In the email, Bacon encourages Iowans to share the video, and their support for Edwards, with their friends, family and neighbors.

Last week, as part of Edwards’ successful eight-day “Main Street Express” bus tour, the campaign launched two other successful organizing tools to reach out to undecided caucus goers: “Six Degrees of John Edwards,” and the “John Edwards Book Club.” The Six Degrees of John Edwards program encouraged supporters to take action and engage undecided caucus goers in Edwards’ campaign. The John Edwards Book Club encourages supporters to invite their undecided friends and family to get together and discuss Edwards’ 80-page policy book, “The Plan to Build One America.”


6. Why John Edwards may be the best option for Democrats

Interesting article on the thought processes of a typical undecided voter and his ultimate decision for Edwards. I suspect many undecided voters are going through the same thing, especially those who don't have favorites or aren't committed to a particular campaign. For voters like them, they are truly shopping to see who the best candidate would be all around.

Like many of my Democratic friends — like many Democrats period — I’ve been struggling with the current crop of candidates. Whom to support?

I’ve never much cared for either Clinton or Obama. The former is too much of a centrist triangulator, and I don’t trust her on foreign policy. The latter is too much of a feel-good, group-therapy Oprah candidate, and I don’t like his use of Republican talking points in trying to take down Clinton. Both would be fine presidents and both are on the right side (which is to say, the liberal-progressive side) on most of the issues that matter to us (climate change, in particular), but it seems to me that we can do better.

Although I will support whichever Democrat emerges from the primaries — which is to say, I will support any Democrat over any Republican (and I’m not generally so hyper-partisan) — and although I do not intend here to endorse a specific candidate, I must say that I’m beginning to like Edwards more and more. Again.

Indeed, he is, once more, my preference — I think. It may be that he is the least bad of the top three Democratic candidates, but I would like to think rather that he is the strongest of three fairly strong candidates. Whatever my reservations with respect to Clinton and Obama, I do not dislike them generally, and, reservations aside, I can admit that they are highly credible candidates.

And yet — those reservations, upon which I have only touched here (see here for Clinton and here for Obama). Besides, I’ve generally liked Edwards a great deal (see here and here). And yesterday, in a short post that got me thinking, and got me writing this one, Atrios put the differences clearly and powerfully:

Obama: The system sucks, but I’m so awesome that it’ll melt away before me.

Edwards: The system sucks, and we’re gonna have to fight like hell to destroy it.

Clinton: The system sucks, and I know how to work within it more than anyone.

I, too, think the system sucks. So do many of us. The question is, who can do something about it? Obama is, I grant, serious about policy, but he is essentially running a cult of personality campaign. Plus, his message of two Americas as one, of healing the rifts, is, I think excessively idealistic and, indeed, naive. Naive because the other side, the GOP, plays rough. Although it would be nice to have a uniter rather than a divider in the White House, the reality of American politics is that there are two major parties that generally do not aim for compromise. And, to an extent, why should they? For us, what does compromise mean other than selling out Democratic principles and embracing Republican ones. Remember that the other side — and I’m not just referring to Bush/Cheney but to most on the Congressional side and certainly to most of the presidential field — continues to support a losing war in Iraq, wants to bomb Iran, supports the use of torture, rejects diplomacy and internationalism, advocates theocratic social policies, cares little for environmentalism and even less for the climate crisis, and so on and so on. This is the Republican system. Not only would Obama not be able to overcome it, he would find himself having to make compromises with Republicans who, in turn, would be working to destroy him.

As for Clinton, I have no doubt she knows how to work the system. She’s proven she can, and her tenure in the Senate has been marked repeatedly by efforts to reach out to the other side, including, most worrisome of all, on Iraq and Iran. As with Obama, she would find herself having to make compromises with Republicans, who, even more aggressively and vindictively, would be working to destroy her.

Which, again, leaves Edwards, a sound voice for progressive values (and one who is polling well against possible Republican opponents) at a time when the two leading candidates are hurling dirt at one another and otherwise putting themselves in a position to act like Joe Lieberman. No, they wouldn’t be that bad, don’t get me wrong, and Obama in particular is admirably progressive, but what America needs now is a fighter, I think, not a cult of personality or a triangulator. Some combination of the three, along with the better qualities of Dodd (the system sucks, but we need to defend the Constitution), Biden (the system sucks, but I’m crazy enough to speak my mind), Richardson (the system sucks, but I speak Spanish and have travelled the world as a diplomat), and even Kucinich (the system sucks, so let’s impeach Bush and Cheney), would be ideal, but, barring that, and barring a Gore run, the best option may very well be Edwards.

Think about it.


7. Edwards stumps at Coe College

Edwards answers the questions. Such a simple thing, yet it creates a tenuous bond trust, that can have caucus going braving the coldest of nights to caucus.

CEDAR RAPIDS — When John Edwards asks, then answers, why Americans don't have universal health coverage — "insurance companies and drug companies and their lobbyists" — he's talking Glen Rammelsberg's language.

"He's down to earth, and he's ... the only one I can trust," Rammelsberg said Monday after the Democratic presidential hopeful ended a day of campaigning in Cedar Rapids.

Rammelsberg, 66, of Blairstown, was easy to spot, even in the crowd of about 300 at Coe College's Gage Memorial Union. His denim work shirt with the stars and stripes across the shoulders is embroidered across the back with "John Edwards for President." By the time Edwards left the building, the shirt — the work of Rammelsberg's daughter for the 2004 campaign — had the candidate's autograph, too.

"I think he's going to be the winner," Rammelsberg said after the former North Carolina senator's 15-minute speech.


"Unless and until you have a president of the United States who's willing to stand up with some backbone and guts and fight, and stand up to these corporate interests and stand up to those who are preventing America from getting what it needs, nothing will change," he said.


Aboard his bus en route to Cedar Rapids, Edwards said he felt a "tremendous momentum" building for his candidacy as the Jan. 3 caucuses approach and he doubted Clinton's effort to flood Iowa with surrogates on her behalf in the closing stages will carry much weight with Iowans.

"They know me, they know Elizabeth. I don't need somebody else from outside the state to come in here and explain to them who I am or what I am. I make the case directly to them and they already know me," he said. "We've been through the last three weeks of the Iowa caucuses, we know what happens and we're ready for this."

Elizabeth Edwards said she has been appalled by the degree to which her husband's Democratic rivals have attempted to co-opt his message in their closing appeals to caucus goers. "It ought to be an indication to voters about whether you're a leader or a follower," she said.

Edwards' mill-town upbringing struck a chord with Rammelsberg, who spent his working life at three Cedar Rapids manufacturing plants. And the candidate's declaration that "it's time for us to stand up" resonated, too.


8. At shelter, Edwards seeks, offers support

Heartwarming little story for the season of joy. I like John Edwards.

It might have been a routine photo-op to the journalists who trooped into a Des Moines women's and children's shelter Monday morning. But it felt like a big deal to Wendy Horn.

Right there, sitting on a threadbare couch across from her, was an important man in a dark suit, conservative tie and hiking boots. The man was running for president, and there he was, asking about her life story and wanting to know what she and her two young kids needed.

Horn, 22, didn't know much about the man. "Are you from Texas?" she asked.

"North Carolina," he answered.

"Oh, North Carolina," she said. "You have the accent."

He grinned and exaggerated his drawl: "Wohhht AX-sent?"

The man said his name was John Edwards. The shorter woman with him was his wife, Elizabeth. The taller woman was Mari Culver, Iowa's first lady, who would announce later in the day that she was backing Edwards' candidacy. Culver has helped out at the Hawthorn Hill shelter, and she brought the Edwardses to tour the place and talk to its residents.

Culver and the Edwardses gathered with Horn and the other young mothers, then asked about health care, child care, job training and child support.

One 27-year-old mother told them she is determined to complete her final year of college, even though she and her toddler son wound up in the shelter after her marriage broke up. Another said she was a Sudanese refugee who left Tennessee because she has relatives in Des Moines, but the relatives didn't have room for her and her four children.

Horn, 22, talked about how it can take years to qualify for a housing subsidy, and how applicants repeatedly have to fill out confusing paperwork, then wait in the dark for an answer. "You know, it's just like you're going in circles," she said.

When it was over, the photographers and young campaign aides headed to their cars. The man in the suit needed to go downtown to make a big speech about injustice and America's future. On his way to the door, he stopped for a moment, shook Horn's hand and spoke quietly to her. "I'm proud of you. Proud of you," he said. "I mean that. You're gonna be good. You are."

The shelter offers Horn 30 days to get life together for herself and her two kids. After that, she will have to find somewhere else to stay. With that kind of pressure, who could expect her to study up on the presidential candidates? But this one seemed decent, she said. "My aunt likes him," she said, "so he must be a good man."


9. Blog Roundup

Updated with Edwards Movie Trailer! Edwards Crowds Rising for "America Rising" by TomP

The Road Trip for One America led me through a Snowstorm (w/Pics) by clarkent

Lawyers for Edwards: Protecting Every Vote by JeremiahFP

Best Edwards Spot Yet ? Movie Trailer by TarHeel

A Debate Edwards Has to Love by david mizner

Obama campaign resorting to "Politics as Usual" on Edwards - Where's the Hope? by wade norris

Back From Iowa by AlanR

John Edwards will Fight Part 2 by mdgarcia

John Edwards Takes the Lead in Iowa Poll - 30% and Leads Second Choices by jasamuel

North Carolina: Edwards can turn it blue by BruinKid

The Positive Message of John Edwards Takes Hold Too by RDemocrat

John Edwards effing well CAN beat Hillary by McSnatherson

John Edwards: the Civil Rights Candidate by priceman

extra special diary by Ellinorianne cuz I forgot to add :-)
Obama asks Edwards, "What did you do?"


10. Odds & Ends

Edwards on Hardball - great interview

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