WATERLOO, IOWA — Polls show John Edwards still sitting in third place among Democrats headed into next month's Iowa caucuses. This is the former North Carolina senator's second and possibly last shot at the White House.
As he races from campaign event to campaign event across Iowa, Edwards' core message remained constant.
“I'm running for president on behalf of my father who worked in mills all his life,” Edwards said.
But, with high-profile opponents like Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama stealing his spotlight this year, Edwards sometimes ditched his down home style. In a recent debate, he went after Clinton.
“Will she be the person who brings about change in this country?” he asked. “I believe in Santa Claus. I believe in the tooth fairy, but I don’t think that’s going to happen.”
Four years ago, Edwards was “the upbeat candidate,” according to David Yepsen, a political columnist with the De Moines Register.
“He was kind of new, fresh and sunny,” Yepsen said. “Now there’s much more anger.”
Yepsen said he thinks that strategy can backfire in Iowa. Edwards' aggressive tone coincided with his drop in the polls in Iowa. Now, less than a month before caucuses, he has shifted back to what worked for him four years ago.
“I’m out here talking to you and listening to you every day,” Edwards said. “You are as good and strong as the American people have ever been.”
When asked if Iowans are tired of the bickering, Edwards said he thinks they are “really interested in our positive vision for America.”
The former North Carolina senator is now quick to separate himself from the fray.
“The Clinton and Obama sniping over the last 24 hours is really fascinating to listen to,” he said.
Pushing the positive, Edwards' plans to pull out of Iraq, create universal health care and rework trade agreements has impressed many caucus-goers.
“As one of the signs said here, I trust him with my grandchildren,” said Jana Root.