Wednesday, December 19, 2007

He Won't Back Down

They've taken their best shots, and John Edwards is still standing. Clinton has spent nearly nearly $15 million. She's brought in democratic heavy hitters like Madeleine Albright and, of course, Bill Clinton. Obama, too, has spent millions more than Edwards and brought none other than Oprah Winfrey to the fight. Yesterday, the InsiderAdvantage poll put Edwards back on top, and within hours, the smears and lies began. But, they haven't been able to make Edwards go away. It must be terribly frustrating.

John Edwards has done the one thing that voters most admire: he has simply stayed the course. He has remained strong and consistent, and that makes it easy for voters to believe him when he tells them that he will fight for them. He has an extraordinary field team in Iowa, and now, the Clinton campaign is saying that their internal numbers are showing an Edwards surge. One has to ask why the Clinton campaign would put out a release like this one in the Washington Post, "Clinton Advisers Point to Edwards Threat." They point to it because they know that John Edwards is poised to surprise everyone but himself (and perhaps Elizabeth) on January 3rd.

And that leads to this question:

Has Hillary Clinton conceded Iowa? For the last three weeks, her campaign has vacillated between attacking Obama and Edwards and predicting her loss in Iowa. Even Bill Clinton said it would be a miracle if she wins Iowa. Fifteen million. Bill Clinton. Madeleine Albright. Tom Harkin. Miracle. Wow. The thing is, Register endorsement not withstanding (they have endorsed the winner of the Iowa caucus exactly never), she's been in a free fall that shows no sign of relenting. And, if you're really fighting for your life in Iowa and New Hampshire, why do you send your #1 surrogate-Bill Clinton-to Georgia and North Carolina to raise money no less? Isn't that, like, the thing she needs the least? It looks like she's conceding Iowa and now trying to build a firewall with the 2/5 states, and that may be not just her best, but her only viable strategy.

Here's her problem: Lots of undecideds will make their ultimate decision not on policy but on the person-on who they'd rather have over for dinner. It's hard to imagine that visceral vote going to Hillary Clinton. Either Edwards or Obama are much more likely to get those dinner invitations. And, she knows it.

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