Local Politics

Uncertainty in Several States Gives Edwards Hope

Most polls show Edwards in a virtual dead heat with New York Sen. Hillary Clinton and Illinois Sen. Barack Obama with a week left before Iowa's caucuses.

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RALEIGH, N.C. — After a couple of days in the Triangle for the holidays, Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards returned to the campaign trail Wednesday in New Hampshire.

Edwards, a former U.S. senator from North Carolina, released a new television ad in New Hampshire and was expected to attend numerous town meetings before heading to Iowa for the final days before that state's Jan. 3 caucuses.

Most polls show Edwards in a virtual dead heat in Iowa with New York Sen. Hillary Clinton and Illinois Sen. Barack Obama. Political observers aren't ready to write Edwards off yet, despite the war chests and organizations assembled by his top competitors.

Ed Turlington, a Raleigh lawyer who serves as Edwards' campaign adviser, said he sees promise in the uncertainty.

"I'm very optimistic about his chances," Turlington said. "If you would have told me a year ago that we would go into the Iowa caucuses and be dead even with a chance to do well in all four January states, I would be very pleased."

New Hampshire's primary is scheduled for Jan. 8, followed by primaries in South Carolina and Nevada.

Many political observers contend Edwards will need more than optimism to survive.

"He doesn't have a lot of money," said David Yepsen, a political columnist with the Des Moines Register in Iowa. "He doesn't have the national organization that others have, so he's got a to win in Iowa."

Turlington, who plans to campaign in Iowa for Edwards next week, emphasizes polls that show Edwards is the strongest candidate on getting second-choice votes, which translate into strength in the way Iowa's caucuses operate.

Whatever the odds, Edwards and his supporters agree he needs a strong closing to have a realistic shot at the Democratic nomination.

"It's what he did as a lawyer. It's what he did as a high school athlete, and now I think it's what he's doing in his presidential campaign," Turlington said.

Michigan and Florida also have primaries scheduled for January, but the Democratic National Committee has voided the delegates from those states because of controversy over efforts to move primaries up on the calendar.

On Feb. 5, 21 states hold at least one party primary. North Carolina voters won't head to the polls until May 6.


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