John Edwards: Keeping His Feet in Iowa While Reaching for New York


John Edwards doesn't have to care what all the sourpusses on DailyKos and HuffPost think, this New York Observer profile of his liftoff attempts for the White House points out:

"Sometimes I do feel like someone needs to shake the national press and remind them we do not have a national primary—never have," said Mr. Edwards.
He added, "The only thing that matters is: How are you doing in Iowa and New Hampshire?"
That's the Edwards scenario in a nutshell: win in Iowa, and national attention will follow.
If the early polls are even remotely accurate, it's not an implausible calculation.
A recently released survey of Iowa Democrats conducted in October by Harstad Strategic Research for a group called Environmental Defense showed Mr. Edwards way out in front with the support of 36 percent of likely caucus-goers. Mrs. Clinton had 16 percent, and Barack Obama had 13.

But that doesn't help him with his most pressing need: big bucks, especially from big cities like New York–a Big City with a Big Favorite Daughter crowding out the field of big political spenders. (As the story relates, it's hard for Edwards to even find a restaurant to schmooze with bigwigs in NYC without unexpectedly running into Hillary Clinton.) While Edwards had a rep as a great fundraiser,

he is starting this time around at a pronounced disadvantage. According to the Federal Election Commission Web site, Mr. Edwards' One America Committee P.A.C. had $20,611 on hand as of the end of November. As of September, Mr. Edwards' 2004 Presidential campaign was still more than $300,000 in debt.

And with high-profile rivals like Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Obama to contend with, the former Senator is likely to find that resources are considerably more difficult to come by this time around, even in the country's most donor-rich precincts.
"He wasn't running against a New York Senator last time. It creates a precarious situation for any fund-raiser to go against their own Senator, especially when she is the front-runner," said one New York fund-raiser sympathetic to Mr. Edwards. "Giving to Hillary is a win-win: She is either going to be the nominee, or she is going to be the New York Senator for as long as she wants to be."
Undoubtedly, a President Edwards would be an orgy of new national attempts at "problem solving" from nationalized health care on down, and I'd guess a pretty unlikely one right now; I hold out the hope he can continue to stress the "I was wrong about Iraq, and I'd do something about it" idea enough to drive the eventual Democratic nomination winner further in that direction.