Local Politics

Edwards Shows No Sign of Abandoning Campaign

Posted January 28, 2008 5:58 p.m. EST
Updated January 28, 2008 9:29 p.m. EST

— Despite poor finishes in recent primaries, former U.S. Sen. John Edwards continues to campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Edwards was scheduled to make appearances in Tennessee, Missouri, Oklahoma, Minnesota, North Dakota, Alabama and Georgia by Wednesday. The seven states are among 22 scheduled to hold primaries on "Super Tuesday" next week. The campaign has organizers in all 22 states and plans to launch television advertisements in 10.

Edwards also continues to pull in money from online donors. His campaign announced Monday that more than 44,000 contributions, totaling $3.2 million, has been raised so far in January, most of which will be matched by federal funds.

Still, the Chapel Hill resident hasn't finished better than his second-place finish in Iowa and has been a distant third behind Illinois Sen. Barack Obama and New York Sen. Hillary Clinton in every election since. In his native South Carolina on Saturday, he garnered 18 percent of the vote.

"The longer you're around, the more people say, 'Well, what are you doing here? Are you delusional?'" said Andrew J. aylor, a political science professor at North Carolina State University.

But Taylor said Edwards has little to lose and still has an outside shot if Obama or Clinton make a serious mistake.

"He genuinely likes campaigning for president. I think he genuinely thinks he'd be a very good president," Taylor said.

Longtime friend and adviser Ed Turlington said Edwards doesn't want to give up his fight for the poor and working class. The longer Edwards stays in the race, the harder it will be for Clinton or Obama to get the needed majority for the nomination, which gives Edwards leverage, he said.

"I wish he'd gotten off to a faster start, but I think he still has a lot of national support," Turlington said.

The Edwards campaign noted Monday that former President Bill Clinton didn't win a primary in 1992 until Georgia, and it's clear organizers are counting on a brokered Democratic convention, where delegates fight to get their candidate the nomination.

A brokered convention hasn't occurred in 40 years, but a release from the Edwards campaign puts his delegate count at 26 – fewer than 40 behind Obama for the lead.

"We're really in uncharted territory here. This may be a historically different election," Turlington said.

Democratic political consultant Gary Pearce, who ran Edwards' successful Senate campaign in North Carolina in1998, said he would advise his old boss to hang around. He said it might put him in the running for the vice presidential slot on the ticket again.

"Weird things have happened this year, and weirder things may still happen," Pearce said.