Edwards Evening News Roundup: The Sprint is On Edition

1. Lazy Big Media Misses on Edwards

The media is talking about the media not covering John Edwards. Imagine that!

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — What about John Edwards? The big-media portrays the Democratic race as a death-match between the Clinton machine and the Obama phenom. Edwards comes off as a plodder in the shadow of two glamour pusses.

Back in the world of plain people, the story looks somewhat different. A new Des Moines Register poll shows 28 percent of likely Iowa Democratic caucus-goers preferring Barack Obama, 25 percent for Hillary Clinton and 23 percent for Edwards. That sounds like a three-way race to me.

Also consider the caucus rules. Within a caucus site, people whose candidate gets less than 15 percent of the total can throw their support to another contender. Edwards leads the Democratic pack as the likely participants’ second choice, notes a recent Rasmussen poll.

The former senator from North Carolina seems definitely in the game. So why is the race commonly seen as a two-titan contest? The easy explanation, that much of the media are lazy, would not be far off. But something else is going on.

We live in a political culture dominated by celebrity journalists covering celebrity politicians. Big media want to consort with the big stars — New York Sen. Clinton (plus Bill) and the charismatic Illinois Sen. Obama (with Oprah in his entourage).

One recalls Angela Lansbury’s quip when television executives in Los Angeles canceled her very popular show. “Nobody in this town watches ‘Murder, She Wrote,’” the actress said. “Only the public watches.”

Delaware Sen. Joe Biden recently hit the nail on the noggin as he explained why a candidate as experienced as he gets so little attention. After all, polls show that in a general election, Biden would run even with leading Republicans Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani.

Democrats, Biden said, have a talented woman and a talented black, and “they’ve sort of sucked all the oxygen out of the air.” A white man does not fit into the storyline. That could be Edwards’ problem, as well.

Edwards was all over New Hampshire last week, talking to average citizens. The people who filled the Bow Town Hall on a slushy Monday morning were neither rich nor poor, but they definitely felt left out. Edwards’ theme of putting middle-class interests at the center of American policy seemed to hit home. As Edwards warned the crowd not to “trade corporate Republicans for corporate Democrats,” people nodded.

“I’d like to hear smaller voices heard, as opposed to the lobbyists,” Anne Dupre, a 34-year-old mother of two, told me. Dupre is an independent whose family is “very Republican.”

Also in the audience was Louis Duval, a 67-year-old technician who has been laid off more than once. In a non-question to Edwards, he demanded that American consumers dump imported products, “like the tea party.” An independent, Duval wouldn’t tell me whom he’ll vote for.

In Iowa, Edwards supporter Skip McGill suspects that the media have used fundraising as the yardstick for a candidate’s viability. McGill is president of the United Steelworkers Local 105 in Bettendorf, whose national union has endorsed Edwards.

Even Craig Crawford is complaining about not enough Edwards news. Maybe he should stop by EENR sometime. Or better yet...cover Edwards. How about that Craig?

Edwards Deserves Another Look

John Edwards deserves more attention. Surely it’s time for the national news media to take a break from the nearly exclusive obsession with his leading Democratic presidential rivals, Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama.

Iowa Democrats are not ignoring Edwards. The former North Carolina senator and 2004 Democratic vice presidential nominee is the most popular candidate among his party’s likely voters in the Hawkeye State. According to a new MSNBC/McClatchy survey, Edwards enjoys a 69 percent favorability rating among Iowa Democrats -- besting Obama’s 66 percent and Clinton’s 62 percent. (Bill Clinton’s favorability is at 72 percent.)

Despite getting lost in the Clinton-Obama fray, Edwards remains competitive enough in Iowa to emerge victorious in the Jan. 3 caucuses. His organization for the all-important task of getting voters to the caucuses might even surpass Obama's or Clinton's.

Although the longest running candidate (if you count his 2004 bid), Edwards gets so little attention that he might seem like the fresh face in the field if an Iowa win produces a media boom.


2. John Edwards Makes His Case

Oh look people, more media coverage and guess what, they're not counting Edwards out! Aren't they generous? Don't you just love our fair and balance media? Hey! I got idea! Let's all write and tell them what a great job they're doing, and how they've greatly served they American public in the last few months by keeping them so....informed?.

(CBS) In Hillary Clinton’s corner, the most dominant Democratic politician of his generation. In Barack Obama’s corner, the most dominant media figure of her generation.

It’s just one more explanation for why the Democratic nomination is so often seen as a two-person race.

But at least in Iowa, the numbers tell a different story, CBS News senior political correspondent Jeff Greenfield reports. It’s a virtual three-way dead heat.

“Well, you can’t count Edwards out,” said Ann Selzer, who directs the Des Moines Register poll.

She points to former vice presidential nominee John Edwards’ strong second place showing four years ago.

“He's been through this before and he knows what it is to surge at the end,” she said.

So what is John Edwards doing? As he did for years ago, he's crisscrossing the state of Iowa arguing that he is the most electable Democrat based on who he is, where he's from, and what he's for.

Part of the argument is geographic.

“I'm the one candidate on our side who's actually won in a red state and grew up in small town rural American,” Edwards said in Iowa. “And I might add, you know, as a practical matter, the last two Democrats who were elected president of the United States, they talked like this.”

But he also links that working-class background to his core political argument: a frankly populist attack on corporate wealth and power.

“The power in government, in our country, has become concentrated in the few, affects every single thing that's happening,” he said.

It's the theme of a new ad linking his campaign to his wife's life-threatening illness:

"And Elizabeth and I decided we're not going to quietly go away," he says in an ad. "Instead we're going to go out and fight for what it is we believe in."

Edwards end game is simple: find the Iowa Democrats who want change, convince them that change requires a fighter and not Obama's intention to be a healer.

And hope for a win here that turns a two way fight into a three-way
fight everywhere.


3. AP Interview: Edwards on Iraq and Dems

Edwards talks a bit about Iowa voters on the Iraq issue.

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards, who has fiercely debated the U.S. military presence in Iraq with his rivals, said Tuesday that he believes Iowa voters don't find much disagreement among Democrats on how to bring the war to an end.

"My instinct is that most caucus-goers think any of us will end the war," Edwards said in an interview Tuesday with The Associated Press.

He pointed out that during town hall meetings across the state, Iraq is not a dominant issue with his audiences. "I don't think it means they don't care intensely about the war, because I think they do," he said. "I just think they don't see it as an issue of great separation for the Democrats."

Edwards made his comments as he took a winter-storm break from an eight-day bus tour in Iowa where he has been promoting a new theme of "America rising" to meet its challenges.

While Edwards continues to invoke ending the war as one of the major challenges facing the nation, the thrust of his message is that entrenched corporate power has prevented the government from tackling long-standing domestic problems.

"You hear a lot more questions about corporate power, health care, energy, family farmers," he said. "Those are the things people ask about."


4. Iowa/Edwards tells Americans to rise up to challenges

It's time for an Uprising. For us to Get Up, Stand Up. For us to Fight. For us Work. For No More War. Clearly John Edwards is channeling Bob Marley. Those are all titles of his songs, or pretty close. Fighting for justice, whether, economic, environmental, or criminal is timeless and everlasting if we want a just world for ourselves and our children.

DES MOINES (AP) -- Democrat John Edwards on Monday encouraged Americans to rise up to the challenges the country is facing, just as they have in the past.

"When America has been faced with great obstacles, what did the American people do? They rose up, they stood up, they spoke up, they faced these challenges and they brought about the change that America needed," he said during a rally in downtown Des Moines. "Well, we are in that place again. It is time for us to stand up. It is time for us to rise up."

Edwards' bus tour, called the "Main Street Express," will feature stops with actors Kevin Bacon and Tim Robbins, who promise to sign campaign memorabilia for Iowans helping out with campaign efforts. In the last few days, Barack Obama had talk show host Oprah Winfrey stump for him, and Hillary Rodham Clinton has had the backing of her famous husband, former President Bill Clinton, on the campaign trail.

Asked by reporters if celebrities can help a candidate win votes, Edwards said it may draw people to an event, but "I don't think it has much effect on who they vote for or caucus for."

"I think the caucus-goers take this very, very seriously. I don't think celebrity is going to sway them much," he said.


5. Holding His Own

Edwards holding steady. But flying low. At least the people won't be sick of him from media over exposure should he emerge as a winner in Iowa.

John Edwards is running a campaign of lessons learned. He is a repentant early supporter of the Iraq war, arguably the most vocal critic of the 2002 invasion among those candidates who voted to authorize it. He has a sharper edge than he had in the 2004 presidential race, and he is decidedly more aggressive and unvarnished than he was as John Kerry's vice presidential running mate.

Edwards has struggled nonetheless to keep up in the national polls with two of his high-wattage Democratic rivals, Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama. Even in Iowa, where Edwards wasted no time returning after the 2004 defeat, he is lagging slightly behind the two. That has triggered unwelcome comparisons with former congressman Dick Gephardt, whose second attempt at the nomination, in 2004, ended no better than his first, in 1988.

Yet in a field of compelling biographies, Edwards has held his own. Alongside the most formidable female candidate and African American candidate in history, Edwards is running as the "son of a millworker," as he so often tells crowds about his populist roots, but also the father of a son who died in a car crash at age 16 and the husband of a woman with breast cancer. When his wife, Elizabeth, found out early this year that her cancer had returned, the couple held a news conference near their home in Chapel Hill, N.C., to make a surprise announcement: He would stay in the race. Many had expected him to quit.

That perseverance has become a hallmark of his candidacy; the Edwards campaign also took on a throw-caution-to-the-wind quality that many of his supporters admired.


As the only top-tier Democrat who has run for president before, Edwards will head into the early contests in January with some distinct advantages. He retains a band of loyal supporters in Iowa, the first caucus state, where he came in a surprisingly strong second place last time (and where, his advisers believed, he could have won if the race had lasted just a short while longer).

He has lost some senior advisers but picked up others, chiefly Joe Trippi, the rabble-rousing former campaign manager to Howard Dean. The first major Democratic candidate to introduce a universal health-care proposal, Edwards is hoping that his emphasis on domestic issues, rural policies and middle-class economics -- coupled with his sharp tongue and broad electoral appeal -- will be enough to push him ahead of Clinton and Obama, or at least keep him steady if one of them should falter.

Decent article on Edwards. Check it out.

6. Edwards Campaign: Announces Ten New Offices

Oh wait! More office opening for Edwards! Didn't he get the memo that he doesn't have the money to compete?

Des Moines, Iowa – Today, building on John Edwards' growing strength in Iowa, the Edwards campaign announced ten new offices across the state that have opened in recent weeks. In addition, the campaign is posting signs at each location highlighting that the offices are not paid for by PAC or Washington lobbyist contributions – and that John Edwards is the ONLY candidate who has never taken a dime from PACs or Washington lobbyists ever. Today is the second day of Edwards eight day Iowa bus tour aboard the "Main Street Express" – which has a sign on the back which reads: "Not Fueled by PAC or Washington Lobbyists – EVER."

“Our campaign is continuing to gain strength in Iowa – based on the support of regular Americans, not lobbyists and special interests,” said Jennifer O’Malley Dillon, the campaign’s Iowa state director. “We continue to open offices, sign up supporters and aggressively reach out to undecided caucus goers in all 99 counties. We want every Iowan to know heading into caucus night that John Edwards is the only candidate in this race who has never taken a dime from PACs or Washington lobbyists. When he’s president, he won’t be looking out for special interests – just the interests of the American people.”

In recent weeks, the Edwards campaign has opened ten new offices, bringing the total number of offices in Iowa to 25. Edwards is committed to reaching out to caucus goers in every county in Iowa. He is the only candidate to visit and take questions from Iowans in all 99 counties twice.

The new offices are in Algona, Decorah, Fairfield, Grinnell, Keokuk, Maquoketa, Marshalltown, Muscatine, Newton, and Spirit Lake. A full listing of Senator Edwards' offices is available online at http://www.JohnEdwards.com/Iowa/Offices

To view a photo of one of the signs, visit: http://www.JohnEdwards.com/Iowa.

Text of the signs: NOT Paid for by PACs or Washington Lobbyist Money – EVER

Only one candidate has never taken a dime from PACs or Washington lobbyists.


7. Edwards Statement On Hud Plan To Begin Demolishing Public Housing In NO This Week

What the hell is going on in New Orleans! Man, I can't wait for Edwards to be president to start working and helping those poor, desperate, screwed-over by the government, people. I can't even begin to imagine what life must be like for them. And the children. During the holidays. I'm stressed just writing about it and imagining it.

Chapel Hill, North Carolina – Senator John Edwards today called on HUD to reverse its plan to begin demolishing public housing in New Orleans this week and urged the New Orleans City Council to stand strong in defending housing for city residents. Edwards said in a statement:

"There is a housing crisis in New Orleans today – the result of government policies that have failed the people of the Gulf since Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma. Rents have doubled, families are being evicted from FEMA trailers and now the current administration is now trying to make a bad situation worse.

"I am calling on HUD to postpone its plans to destroy affordable public housing until replacement housing is ready. Knocking down historic and livable housing today that withstood the winds of Katrina with the bulldozers of Bush is counterproductive to the goal of giving residents a home to which to return.

Decentralizing poverty by encouraging new mixed-income income makes a lot of sense – I've proposed creating 1 million new housing vouchers to do exactly that. But eliminating housing where people could live in a city where a desperate shortage of shelter exists makes no sense at all.

"I urge the City Council to reject the demolition permits HUD needs for its plan to destroy hope for current and displaced New Orleans residents."

8. Edwards' Bus Tour Stops in Marshalltown

This is nice Citizen Journalism piece on Edwards stop in Marshalltown, yesterday. It comes along with video, so when you have time, head on over and check them out.

John Edwards stopped in Marshalltown on Monday evening on the first day of his 8 day bus tour across Iowa. Edwards spoke in front of 154 people at Marshalltown High School. A long time Marshalltown Democrat and former county chair told me this was the first time a presidential candidate has come to the High School.

This was my 8th time seeing Sen. Edwards and I noticed some differences tonight compared to past speeches. First, the message was toned down. A couple months ago the headlines were about John Edwards being too angry. Tonight, Edwards took the high road and even joked about the silly campaign antics of Clinton and Obama arguing about a Kindergarten essay. A few times throughout the event Edwards made distinctions on policy with Clinton and Obama, but they were very minor.

I also noticed more emphasis on his rural upbringing. Edwards mentioned growing up with the same kind of people, being born in a small town, and yes, being the son of a mill worker.

Edwards stayed on his theme of power in America being concentrated in the hands of a few. The problem is that regular people are being left behind and their voices aren't being heard. He mentioned problems in health care, the prescription drug plan, and Blackwater and other paid mercenaries running around Iraq. Edwards brought up unfair trade agreements that ship jobs overseas more than he has in past events.

He discussed the responsibility of leaving a better country, calling it the moral test of our generation.


9. Send a Comment to the FEC

On the ActBlue public financing situation, the Edwards campaign is asking you to sent letters on behalf of Act Blue. It will help a lot more candidates that just him.

Send a Comment to the FEC
Our campaign recently asked the Federal Election Commission if those who contributed to the campaign through Act Blue could have their grassroots contributions matched through public funding.

It makes sense to us. Act Blue is at the cutting-edge of grassroots fundraising -- and these individual contributions through Act Blue are exactly the type of contributions the matching funds system is designed to encourage.

But now we've heard there is a possibility the FEC will turn its back on grassroots donors. It looks as though they are going to take the position that it's okay for other candidates to raise millions of dollars from special interests and lobbyists -- but the money raised in small amounts from thousands of hard working Americans who care about their country -- that doesn't count.

The FEC will meet this coming Friday to decide whether campaigns can have individual contributions through Act Blue matched through public financing.

The FEC needs to hear your voice to understand that any decision to deny matching funds for individual contributions made through Act Blue would be a body blow to the whole concept of public funding which is intended to allow every American, regardless of how much money they have, to have a voice in our democracy.

You can help us send a clear message to the FEC by sending a message to the FEC Commissioners in advance of this week’s vote. Use the form below to easily send a message. We’ve gotten you started, but you can customize the letter as necessary.


10. Blog Round up

How John Edwards would help the middle class (part 2) by desmoinesdem

Obama's Small Change by david mizner

John Edwards and A Revolution of Values by grannyhelen

New general Election Poll Shows Big Wins For Democrats by hilltopper

Edwards blows potential Republicans out of the water (POLLS!) by wildcat156

Breaking: Kate Moss to appear in Iowa for Edwards by Salo

Hope or Destruction in New Orleans by edgery

It's official: I'm serious about Edwards by Brad007

11. Odds & Ends

Edwards on CBS regarding the environment

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