The Plank

Edwards Goes In Search Of New Hampshire Voters


Nashua, New
Hampshire--John Edwards thinks he has a great closing
argument to win over New Hampshire
voters. Now he just needs to find some to make it to.


This morning Edwards showed up in a tidy middle-class
neighborhood here intent on delivering his message about fighting for the
middle class and against corporate greed. The only problem was, as Edwards went house to house knocking on doors, a lot of people weren’t home. And those
who were home were, more often than not, visiting from out of state.


An elderly woman at the first home Edwards visited told the
candidate that its owners—her son and daughter-in-law—were out. And
where was she from? Edwards asked—ready to launch into his spiel. Florida,
she said, leading the candidate to beat a hasty retreat. At another house, the
person answering the door told Edwards he was up from North
Carolina visiting relatives, sucking the candidate into a conversation
about his home state that he really didn’t seem to want to be having at that
moment. When Edwards did find a living, breathing New Hampshire voter, he looked more relieved than excited.


Time is obviously at a premium on the campaign trail these
days, and the fact that Edwards took time away from Iowa to come to New
Hampshire today was a bit surprising. Edwards needs to win Iowa
more than Obama and Clinton do; but a win in Iowa
won’t do Edwards much good if he can’t convert it into a strong finish in New
Hampshire. The Edwards strategy has always been to
ride the Iowa bounce to victory
in New Hampshire, as John Kerry
did in 2004. But this cycle’s compressed primary calendar could make that hard.


While a momentum-surfing candidate doesn’t want too much to
elapse between contests—witness John McCain in 2000, who watched the Bush
campaign tear him apart in the three weeks between the New Hampshire and South
Carolina primaries—too little time can be a problem, as well. And with only
five days between Iowa and New
Hampshire this year, Edwards might not have enough
time to ride any Iowa bounce to
a sufficient enough height to capture New Hampshire.


And so Edwards is paying one last visit to New
Hampshire before kicking off an eight-day tour in Iowa
tomorrow. (Obama, by contrast, is spending the rest of his time before the Iowa Caucuses in Iowa.) Later today Edwards held town-hall meetings in Conway
and Laconia, before doing events in
Manchester and Salem
this evening. Hopefully he’ll have better luck finding some actual New
Hampshire voters at those.


 --Jason Zengerle

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