Local News

As Campaign Challenges Grow, So Does Edwards' Confidence

Posted January 20, 2004

— The race for the presidency may just be beginning for John Edwards. But he has plenty of momentum after a strong second-place finish in Iowa's caucuses Monday night.

The North Carolina senator hopes to ride that momentum all the way to the Democratic presidential nomination.

Tuesday, Edwards spread his message in New Hampshire, which holds its primary Tuesday. John Kerry, who won in Iowa, and third-place finisher Howard Dean also campaigned hard. All three candidates face more competition in New Hampshire than in Iowa.

Gen. Wesley Clark and Joe Lieberman have focused their campaigns on New Hampshire. They skipped the Iowa caucuses.

The latest polls out of New Hampshire show Edwards in the single digits. Dean is in the lead at 28 percent, followed by Kerry at 20 percent, Clark at 19 and Edwards at 8.

The poll wrapped up before the Iowa caucuses.

In addition to New Hampshire voters, the Edwards camp was courting former campaign workers for Dick Gephardt, who pulled out of the presidential race after finishing fourth in Iowa, in hopes they now will work for Edwards.

Buoyed by Edwards' success in Iowa, his campaign staff said they are hoping for a solid finish in the Granite State, then a big win in South Carolina.

Monday's results had Edwards' camp buzzing at the start of a very important week for Edwards.

New Hampshire brings a whole new set of challenges.

In Iowa, Edwards capitalized on a positive, underdog campaign to win over caucus goers. In New Hampshire, he no longer can sneak up on his Democratic competitors.

"He's moved from the happy-go-lucky underdog to someone who's a frontrunner or part of a group of frontrunners," N.C. State University Political Science professor Dr. Andrew Taylor said Tuesday. "He has a target on his back now."

Taylor said he expects Edwards' polling to improve in New Hampshire. But he added that Edwards must change his strategy to combat attacks on his lack of political and foreign policy experience.

"A fundamental rule of politics is that you cannot let an attack fester," Taylor said. "You have to respond."

Edwards' national spokesman, Roger Salazar, said that even in the face of rising expectations, Edwards will not veer from his message of hope.

"It's a huge help for us to have that momentum coming out of Iowa," Salazar said.

Edwards got such a boost that campaign staffers cannot keep up with the calls, and new money is rolling in.

"Just to give you an example," Salazar said, "while we were sleeping, we raised over $100,000 online."

The biggest challenge now is whether or not Edwards can bank on enough primary support for another come-from-behind performance in New Hampshire.

Edwards' campaign officials said the goal all along was for the senator to do well in Iowa, better than expected in New Hampshire, and then win the South Carolina primary.

So far, so good.

Comments

This story is closed for comments. Comments on WRAL.com news stories are accepted and moderated between the hours of 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Oldest First
View all