But in looking at the scrum of reporters around her, there were few familiar faces from the travel press — a sign that those who were in the know … knew. There would be no plane to Dallas for the Edwards campaign the night of Super Tuesday. Despite guarantees from senior aides on down, despite a released schedule that outlined the rest of the week with stops throughout Louisiana and Mississippi, the John Edwards 2004 campaign would effectively end on March 2.
Some would say there have been surprises along the way. Others would say everything has gone according to a disciplined plan. Everyone will agree, at the last minute Edwards got out at a well-timed moment. Had the travel press embarked en route to Texas, the next day's stories would have been brutal. Now that they've landed in Raleigh, the stories will say it was a well-timed final bow, reaping the benefits of a fine-tuned exit.
There was a seemingly endless moment of slightly uncomfortable pause in the ballroom as reporters, supporters and staff waited for Edwards to take the stage. And when he did, delivering a short laudatory speech praising Senator Kerry and vowing to fight for Democratic ideals, there was less of the press sprint for Blackberry pagers and cell phones and more of ambling around looking for signs of what next. In the meandering crowd one voice rang out. "Only one dollar!" yelled a man selling 'Edwards for President' buttons. "They used to be five, now one dollar!"
For six months, this reporter has observed a candidate's journey from who-does-he-think-he-is to who-is-one-of-two-still-standing-now? From the moment the campaign first caught wind of the Des Moines Register endorsement in freezing January Iowa temperatures and sped down the highway with a brief stop of celebration at Wendy's, to three-overflow room events in Minnesota full of former Dean supporters who carried the potential promise of a grassroots movement moving to Edwards. The potential of promise, in the end undelivered but still established. For now, or four years hence.
However dire any campaign is on the day it realizes the end, the Edwards campaign carried an air of success even on the way to Raleigh. Edwards was smiling, and there were few tears — at least among the traveling staff. Although it is hard to let go of that at times intangible sense of possibility, this campaign has done so with grace. As hard as it was to see a clear path out once Kerry established his lead, the campaign pressed on until they reaped the outside benefits. The Edwards campaign will be remembered for its positive message, for speaking of poverty and for a charismatic candidate at ease on the trail as much as anywhere else.
Read more from the trail with Edwards on abcnews.com: LINK
Veepstakes: On "Good Morning America" today, ABC News' Claire Shipman looked at the "sexiest" parlor game in Washington: Who will Kerry pick as his running mate?
Shipman looked at the strengths and weaknesses of three possible contenders: Senator John Edwards, Rep. Dick Gephardt and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson.
Her regional candidate? Senator Bob Graham of Florida. Her two wild cards? Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton and Republican Senator John McCain.
The New York Times ed board expresses disapproval of the "irrational" nomination schedule and says Edwards is an "excellent prospect for a running mate." LINK
The Los Angeles Times says Edwards is no shoo-in for No. 2. LINK