Posted: January 4, 2008 1:14 AM
Edwards, Clinton Claim Real Campaign Has Just Begun
Sen. Barack Obama’s victory in Iowa’s caucuses forced both Sen. Hillary Clinton and former Sen. John Edwards to adjust their campaign messages, both seeking to put the best spin on their runner-up finishes.
For Edwards, who campaigned heavily in the state, a second place finish leaves him with an uphill struggle to raise the funds to campaign in the larger states still to come, including South Carolina, Florida and slew of states set to vote on Feb. 5.
Seeking to rally supporters, Edwards heralded the vote, saying, “The one thing that is clear is that the status quo lost and change won.”
For Sen. Clinton, who had overcome Edwards once dominant lead, the third place finish was a blow to her campaign to become the first female nominee of a major party for president.
In speaking with her supporters and flanked by dozens of high-profile Democrats, Clinton said she was ready for the contest to come about which Democrat will be able to answer key questions about who can win in November and who “is ready to lead.”
“We’re going to keep pushing as hard as we can,” she said, with former President Bill Clinton and their daughter Chelsea at her side. “I am so ready for the rest of this campaign and I am so ready to lead.”
Analysts said with her huge financial war chest, Clinton will be able to finance a major campaign in New Hampshire as well as the critical tests to follow but added that the Granite State would be her real test.
“I think there’s a great test for anybody and that is how they handle adversary and defeat. This was the first defeat of Hillary Clinton’s political career,” analyst Mark Shields told the NewsHour. “She’s gotta come into New Hampshire. She’s got a superb organization here, very good local people. This is the battleground. They know that this is their … not their Waterloo … but this was to be their firewall.”
Clinton officials said they were ready for the next battle in New Hampshire and in the weeks to come.
“This race begins tonight and ends when Democrats throughout America have their say. Our campaign was built for a marathon and we have the resources to run a national race in the weeks ahead,” Patti Solis Doyle, Clinton Campaign Manager, said in a statement.
Polls in New Hampshire have had Clinton ahead for some time, maintaining a narrow, but consistent 4-point lead in recent weeks.
For Edwards, New Hampshire poses a tough test. His campaign, trailing both Obama and Clinton in cash, needs a strong showing there if he is to remain a third contender for the nomination.
The former senator said the campaign would be about who best could implement the leadership change America wants. In press interviews, Edwards saw his second place finish as an accomplishment compared to both Clinton’s and Obama’s huge spending in the state.
“I mean, we were grotesquely outspent in Iowa five-to-one and the fact that I’m as strong as I am now under these circumstances indicates that this message of change and standing up for corporate greed and fighting for the middle class and jobs really matters,” the 2004 vice presidential nominee said in an interview with The Associated Press
Edwards also made a note of thanking Sens. Chris Dodd and Joe Biden, both of whom are set to end their campaigns for the Democratic nomination tomorrow.
“I would also like to extend my best wishes to Senators Biden and Dodd and thank them for their service to our country,” Edwards said in a statement late Thursday. “They ran impressive campaigns focused on the real issues that matter most to hard-working families, and I have faith that they will continue to work to build the better America we all believe in.”
Neither senator immediately announced whether they would endorse any of the remaining candidates.