Tuesday, January 1, 2008
New Year's In Des Moines
So there I am in Des Moines as the Iowa Caucuses come to a close in three days. New Year's Eve last night saw parties for all campaigns across this city (packed with politicos) and the state. Edwards' Campaign is upbeat and working hard, as John Edwards left this morning for a 36-hour state tour to Get Out The Caucus (or Get Out The Vote!).
Edwards Could Gain Most On Thursday From Second Choice Votes
According to this LA Times story:
There are signs that Edwards has the most to gain from second-choice picks, whereas Clinton may have the toughest time wooing those second-round votes.
A Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg survey of Iowa Democrats published last week showed that Edwards, the former North Carolina senator who surged four years ago to a surprising second-place finish in the caucuses, was the second choice of 23% of likely caucusgoers, compared with 20% who cited Obama as a second choice and 15% for Clinton.
Among the 13% of likely caucusgoers who planned to back Richardson or Biden, Edwards was named by a convincing plurality as the second choice.
Some strategists believe that Edwards owed his success in 2004 to the fact that he was a popular second choice in that contest, benefiting as Howard Dean and Dick Gephardt, who had been front-runners, destroyed each other’s chances with attack ads.
Sunday, December 16, 2007
Newsweek Cover Story: Edwards The Road Warrior
According to this cover story in Newsweek that can be found online already, Edwards' background is worth reading, especially if you think that Edwards is putting on an act when he talks about the middle class and the poor in America and wants to fight for equality. This excerpt shows that what Edwards stands for is what he has always stood for, even when he didn't have the wealth and success he has today:
With the economy now headed into a recession, and Edwards the only candidate who has been talking about the concerns of the middle class all along, here's why Edwards can win in Iowa:
For months, Edwards has been rounding up support in the state's rural precincts where the front runners have paid less attention. While Obama and Clinton have drawn crowds in the thousands in places like Des Moines and Ames, Edwards has been winning over people in tiny towns like Sac City (population: 2,189). That's important, the strategists say, because under Iowa's arcane caucus rules, a precinct where 25 people show up to vote gets the same number of delegates as a place that packs in 2,500. In other words, even if he loses to Obama and Clinton in the state's bigger cities, he can still win by wrapping up smaller, far-flung precincts that other candidates have ignored. "The bulk of our support is in small and medium counties," says Jennifer O'Malley, Edwards's Iowa state director. O'Malley says Edwards has visited all 99 counties in the state; the campaign has so far trained captains covering 90 percent of all 1,781 precincts. Rural voters are sometimes reluctant to caucus, so the campaign has been enlisting respected community leaders to encourage first-timers to get past their apathy or fear.
This could be wishful thinking from an ailing campaign. But it's worth keeping in mind just how wrong the media echo chamber can be when it comes to predicting winners and losers. At about this time four years ago, Vermont Gov. Howard Dean was the press-anointed darling who could seemingly do no wrong in Iowa. Dour John Kerry was scorned by reporters as the should-have-been who had blown it and couldn't possibly win. But on caucus night, Kerry wound up the victor—and Dean wound up screaming. Reporters were left to wonder what they had missed. One story the talking heads may be missing this time: just how badly John Edwards hates to lose.
The desire to get ahead—to win—is no small thing for Edwards. He was raised in the depressed town of Robbins, N.C., where his father, Wallace, worked in a now long-gone textile mill. It's a biographical detail the candidate mentions so often in speeches and campaign ads that it can sometimes border on self-parody. Yet his father's story is what Edwards's campaign, and political career, is all about. His dad worked his way up in the mill and was promoted to supervisor. But without a college degree, there was only so far he could rise. "He heard his mother and I talk about it at the dinner table, so he knew what I was faced with," his father tells NEWSWEEK. Money was scarce. Wallace was determined that John and his younger brother and sister, Wesley Blake and Kathy, would attend college. He set an example of self-improvement. He took classes offered by the mill, and tuned in to the education channel on TV early each morning when the station aired lessons in statistics and probability.
Tall and good-looking—and he knew it—John Edwards was a popular student and a star football player, skinny but fast. His high-school friend John Mashburn remembers Edwards as a leader. "In a little redneck town, he was different," he says. There was still racial tension in Robbins in the early 1970s, and black students were sometimes mistreated. In protest, several of them once held a sit-in. Edwards persuaded his white friends to join in. "Johnny got a lot of the athletes, myself, our girlfriends … he was instrumental in encouraging us," Mashburn says. John Frye, another high-school friend, says it was a gutsy thing to do. He "stuck his neck out," Frye recalls. "There was a price to pay in how some folks treated him after that. We had people who didn't embrace desegregation even though it had been a bridge crossed years earlier."
And how he ended up at NC State:
At NC State, Edwards was himself again. He still couldn't afford the tuition, so he worked nights at UPS for about $8 an hour unloading boxes from 18-wheelers. He was broke but happy, and didn't outwardly envy his better-off friends. "He wasn't the type that would say, 'Man, I came from a poor background'," says his old dorm suitemate John Huffman. "He knew what he had to do and what his situation was, and that was it." Edwards's friends teased him about his long, blond-streaked hair and surfer looks. He would "kind of fluff his hair up," Huffman says. "We'd cut up with him about being a pretty boy." Huffman says Edwards "came across as rather cocky at times. I would even throw in 'arrogant,' but always in good fun."
Edwards was also a driven student who was obsessed with making top grades. He resolved to keep college costs down by taking summer school and graduating in three years. Everyone knew what Edwards had in mind for his future: he was going to law school. He was accepted at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In class, he fell for Elizabeth Anania, a smart, outspoken student four years his senior. "She was just a ball of fire in the classroom," recalls Patrick Oglesby, who was editor of the law review. Elizabeth was known as a fierce classroom debater. "If she's right, she's not going to back down," says Oglesby. If Edwards was smitten with her, Elizabeth might not have been quite as impressed with him, at least at first. She got better grades and made law review, while he didn't. It was "a blow to him," she tells NEWSWEEK. "He had some uncertainty about whether he could match up." But, she says, by the time they graduated, he ranked higher in the class.
Edwards has said that, even as a kid, he dreamed of being a lawyer. He watched every episode of "Perry Mason" and "The Fugitive." When he was 11, he penned an essay titled "Why I Want to Be a Lawyer," in which he wrote, "I would like to protect innocent people." Edwards tells crowds he got into the law for just that reason: to help the little guy against moneyed interests. But friends at NC State remember it differently. He talked about being an "attorney representing businesses," says Bill Garner, a boyhood friend and college roommate. "He wasn't focused at that point … on the liability side. He was more focused on being a corporate attorney." Edwards says he did, in fact, stumble into those kinds of cases. "It was really more of a happenstance than anything else," he says. He went to work for a firm "looking to start a civil trial practice … I happened to get a case or two, really through luck, worked very hard on them, was successful, and it sort of snowballed."
Friday, December 14, 2007
Burlington Hawkeye: Walking The Extra Miles For Edwards Each Day!
According to this incredible story in the Burlington Hawkeye earlier this week:
It was a touch after 3 p.m. Monday and Carrie Duncan had just finished another day on the job.
Now she was ready to go the extra mile for John Edwards.
Make that 6.1 miles.
Duncan, a 47-year-old food service employee for the New London School District, is walking home each work day until the Iowa caucuses carrying a sign for her favorite presidential candidate.
...Duncan got her itchy feet a few weeks ago after spending the better part of a day canvassing her community in support of Edwards. As the hours dwindled, her body wore down but her spirit swelled.
"The people invigorated me," she said. "I realized how important it was as an American to be able to go up and knock on someone's door and not be, you know, met with a gun or something. ... And that freedom is on the line."
..."I feel John Edwards is a man of his word and honor and he is determined to give America back to the people," she said, "and I'm determined, no matter what, to get out and tell people how much I believe in this man."
The snowstorm gave her plenty of opportunity to do just that, what with all those motorists who pulled up to offer her a lift.
..."I am honored and humbled to have the support of people like Carrie all over Iowa who are dedicated to ending the war, passing universal health care, and restoring our country's promise," the candidate said by e-mail Wednesday. "The lobbyists have too much power in Washington -- it's hard working Americans like Carrie who need and deserve to have a president who will fight for them every day."
New York Times: Vulnerable Democrats See Fates Tied to Hillary
According to this New York Times story, people running for office across the country for state-wide offices, are starting to be concerned about their prospects if Hillary Clinton is the nominee and on top of the ticket.
Nancy Boyda, a Democrat who ran for Congress in this district last year, owed her upset victory partly to the popularity of the Democratic woman at the top of the ticket: Kathleen Sebelius, who won the governor's seat. Now, with a tough re-election race at hand in 2008, Ms. Boyda faces the prospect that her electoral fate could be tied to another woman: Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Mrs. Clinton is a long way from winning the Democratic presidential nomination, and over the last few weeks has struggled to hang on to the air of inevitability that she has been cultivating all year. But the possibility that she will be the nominee is already generating concern among some Democrats in Republican-leaning states and Congressional districts, who fear that sharing the ticket with her could subject them to attack as too liberal and out of step with the values of their constituents.
And few incumbent Democrats face a greater challenge next year than Ms. Boyda, whose district delivered almost 60 percent of its votes to President Bush in 2004.
Ms. Boyda, 52, is a former Republican who represents the state capital, Topeka, and a surrounding expanse of prairie and pasture interspersed with conservative small towns, military posts and this college community, home to Kansas State University . It was by appealing to conservative Democrats and moderate Republicans that she was able to defeat Jim Ryun, a five-term congressman, by 51 percent to 47 percent last year.
This time both Mr. Ryun and another Republican, Lynn Jenkins, the state treasurer, are lined up to run against her. And while vulnerable Democrats like her are not likely to have an easy time even if Senator Barack Obama, John Edwards or any of the other Democratic presidential candidates wins the nomination, Republicans in Kansas say Mrs. Clinton's presence on the ticket would unite their party in opposition to her and give dispirited conservatives a reason to get excited about the race.
The fact is that Senator Edwards puts many red states in play. Red states that Hillary and Obama wouldn't even bother campaigning it let alone competing in and winning. The fact is that there are many purple states out there that could be in play for Democrats if Edwards is on top of the ticket.
This is why his numbers are so significant in terms of winning against every Republican -- unlike Barack and Hillary -- and winning with the widest margins!
Providence Journal: Media Shortchange Edwards
From an excellent article earlier this month that matches the findings of a recent Harvard study and admission by the New York Times public editor, the fact is that the media decided long ago that this Democratic presidential nomination race was between Obama and Hillary, when actually Edwards had been systematically talking about the issues and reaching out to voters in all four of the first primary states and many visits to states like California.
What about John Edwards? The big media portray 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 now leads the Democratic pack as the likely participants' second choice, according to 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 — currently New York Sen. Clinton (plus Bill) and the charismatic Illinois Sen. Obama (with Oprah in his entourage).
...The big-gun cameras rarely focus on less-glamorous candidates discussing middle-class anxieties in small auditoriums and town halls. That's why they don't watch Edwards the way they do Clinton and Obama. Only the public watches.
American Prospect: Contemplating Edwards As The Nominee
According to a recent American Prospect story:
...as we draw closer to actual votes being cast, the value of punditry and speculation begin to fade and the Democrat who seems most comfortable in his own skin and most secure at his core is John Edwards, who is neither the Establishment candidate nor the Excitement candidate. Still, as Clinton and Obama increasingly find themselves playing call and response, saying things to upset and derail each other, Edwards is emerging as the feisty voice in the back field talking most directly to the voters.
As a firm believer in the man/woman-of-the-moment doctrine, I hardly expected to be contemplating John Edwards' prospects at this late stage in the game. The early rounds of the campaign seemed to firmly establish that his moment had passed and that what he offered the American people was not what they were interested in.
...Edwards does have a few things in his favor. The top three are:
1. Sitting senators don't get to be president.
2. The best preparation for running for president is to have run for president.
3. More than anyone else, Edwards seems to be running on something he believes in.
...with Clinton and Obama focused on sparring with each other, Edwards has been hard at work to develop a rapport with voters -- who, in the end, are the only ones that count.
Thursday, December 13, 2007
GOP Strategist: Edwards Is The One Who Scares Me The Most
According to this recent exchange between Tim Russert and a Republican strategist, John Feehery:
RUSSERT: We're back. A little counter intuitive. You're a Republican but objectively size up the Democratic race as you see it.
JOHN FEEHERY: Well, you know, we'd be delighted with Hillary or Obama. The one that scares me is Edwards. Is Oprah going to help win or was it going to be a big -- is she overrated? We don't know the answer. But seems that Hillary seems to doing a little better than she was before Hillary went in. Edwards is the one that scares me the most. He is a southern Democrat; southern Democrats are the ones that usually win.
Watch it here.
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
CNN Poll: Edwards Only Democrat Who Can Win Against All Republicans
The newest CNN poll today reveals why Edwards is the best choice for the Democratic nominee if Democrats want to ensure that they win the White House next November.
According to this new CNN poll here, Edwards is the only Democrat who can win against all Republicans, and he is the only one who wins by the widest margins against Giuliani, Romney, McCain and Huckabee!
Edwards vs Giuliani 53% vs 44% Wins by 9%
Edwards vs Romney 59% vs 37% Wins by 22%
Edwards vs McCain 52% vs 44% Wins by 8%
Obama vs Giuliani 52% vs 45% Wins by 7%
Obama vs Romney 54% vs 41% Wins by 13%
Obama vs McCain 48% vs 48% Tie
Clinton vs Giuliani 51% vs 45% Wins by 6%
Clinton vs Romney 54% vs 43% Wins by 11%
Clinton vs McCain 48% vs 50% Loses by 2%
Washington Post Profile On John Edwards
Finally, the media is starting to pay attention to John Edwards, especially as polls show Hillary's campaign imploding and questions about Barack's inexperience still dogging his campaign (Oprah notwithstanding). Here's an excerpt from this lengthy Washington Post profile on Edwards today titled, Beyond the Run of the Mill:
Always describing himself as "the son of a millworker," he tells stories of family hardships -- the one about his father having to borrow $50, at 100 percent interest, to bring his newborn son home from the hospital is a favorite -- and says he identifies with "the little guy." But he does so with such glibness, and frequency, and it contrasts so greatly with who he is today -- a polished former trial lawyer worth millions -- that the truth of his biography is sometimes lost. These days, Edwards's $400 haircuts and $6 million house garner the lion's share of attention, and he is testimony to the fact that youthful good looks aren't necessarily a political asset.
In an interview, Edwards dismisses the accusations of phoniness as "just politics." The rich-lawyer label rankles a little, though not enough for him to abandon the trappings that he has worked so hard to obtain. "What I want to say to people is 'Well, if I hadn't been successful, would that make me better qualified to be president?' " he asks.
On the campaign trail, however, he doesn't mind poking fun at himself. "My parents actually brought me home to a little house in Seneca, South Carolina," he told an appreciative crowd in last month in Bow, N.H. "Today, as many of you have heard, I don't live in a little house."
But there is another John Edwards, the one who tooled around tiny Robbins, N.C., in a red Plymouth Duster as a teenager, who took the greasiest summer jobs at the mill to earn money for college, who still often forces his staff to eat at Cracker Barrel because it reminds him oh-so-faintly of the big meals his mother used to cook. "You can never forget where you came from," he says more than once, and friends from the old days insist he is, at his core, still one of them.
"I've known that man over 40 years, and he's the real deal," says the Rev. John L. Frye Jr., pastor of the First Presbyterian Church in Gastonia, N.C., and one of Edwards's best boyhood friends. "I don't hear him saying anything different than the interests he truly has in his heart. I don't have any kind of disconnect."