Until this morning, John Edwards didn't even have a tag here at BlueNC, that's how far removed he's been from North Carolina politics. After serving only two-thirds of a term in the Senate on his way to an eventual vice-presidential bid, John Edwards was at once both an inspiring hope for the future and a hard disappointment. One one hand, he brought an important new dimension to the national political debate, but on the other hand, he didn't help Kerry win North Carolina and he didn't help Democrats retain control of the US Senate.
Newsweek today reports on his most recent trip to Iowa where the run-up to his 08 presidential bid appears to be underway. They say he's charming and focused, conducting an 'un-campaign' that is attracting lots of attention and support.
His under-the-radar strategy is paying off, in Iowa at least. A June Des Moines Register poll of likely Democratic caucus-goers had Edwards leading a pack of potential presidential candidates that included other widely known names like Clinton, 2004 ticketmate John Kerry and even Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack. Edwards is certainly not the only candidate hustling in corn-country—Warner and Bayh visited within days of his most recent visit—but with 10 trips to the state since the beginning of 2005, he's logged more time there than any candidate in either party. This time, they're counting on Iowa, which brought John Kerry's candidacy back from the dead in 2004, to propel them into New Hampshire, and beyond. To win, Edwards must leverage his 2004 visibility, shake off the disappointment many Democrats felt at the campaign and emerge from Kerry's shadow as a worthy candidate in his own right.
And then over at Daily Kos, there's a diarist named meanboneII who is a strong Edwards supporter and may even be with the Edwards campaign. In any case, there's clearly a ramp-up underway to reposition the former Senator properly for the next big dance.
I've met John Edwards on four occasions and while we're not friends, I know many people who adore him and his wonderful wife. I trust their judgment and am more than willing to grant that he is a great guy with his heart in the right place. His focus on poverty in America is long overdue, and his ability to connect with people is legendary. I've supported him in the past with large contributions and volunteer help.
That said, I'm not on the Edwards bandwagon for 08. At this point, I'm not sure he could even win his home state, and I don't see him doing much much to rebuild his base here in North Carolina by supporting guys like Larry Kissell. Sure there's a lot of time between now and 2008 - but there's also a HUGE election in just five short months. That's where I'm putting my focus, and I wish aspiring presidential candidates would be focused on it too.