Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Edwards Had Said Obama Would Drag Down Democratic Tickets

In politics life is like the Holiday Inn around 11 a.m.

The sheets are changed to make way for new bedfellows, convenient partners in the day's expediencies. The narrative we are getting now, the looped conventional wisdom, is that former U.S. Sen. John Edwards' endorsement of likely Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama is this: The folksy North Carolinian will help the black Illinois senator with Hillary Clinton's Mountaineer cheering club of "white" working-class voters.



This is a different tune from the one we were hearing up close and personal amid largely white Iowa audiences from Edwards last summer in the heat of the caucus season when betting men were going with Edwards here. In a June stop in Carroll, Iowa, Edwards made the case that both Clinton and Obama would be drags down ticket. Edwards played the gender and race card without exactly playing it.

Here is what Iowa Independent reported that June day:

Edwards warned Iowa voters about what he perceives as the perils of nominating a candidate who down-ticket Democrats in some parts of the nation may decline to appear with in their own campaign events.

Speaking in Carroll, Edwards made the observation after saying there are "three of us who are most likely to be the Democratic nominee."

"It's not just a question of who you like," Edwards said. "It's not just a question of whose vision you are impressed with. It's also a question of who is most likely to win the general election. It's a pretty simple thing. Who will be a stronger candidate in the general election here in the State of Iowa? Who can go to other parts of the country when we have swing candidates running for the Congress and the Senate? Is the candidate going to have to say, 'Don't come here. Don't come here and campaign with me. I can't win if you campaign with me.'"

He added later, "I think it's just a reality that I can campaign anyplace in America."

In an interview with Iowa Independent and The Carroll Daily Times Herald, Edwards strongly rejected the suggestion that his comments about being the most electable candidate in the Democratic field were a way of saying America won't vote for a black man (Obama) or woman (Clinton) without actually saying it - to a largely white, elderly rural audience in Carroll with no national media present.

"No, I think there are differences," Edwards said. "First of all, if you look at who led on the big issues that America will be faced with I came out with a universal health-care plan first. I am so far the only candidate with a truly universal health-care plan. I came out with an aggressive energy plan to deal with global warming, to transform the way we do energy."

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