"I will win South Carolina," Edwards has said countless times. There has been only slight, interchangeable alteration in wording, from "will" to "need to" to "must" and back again, with no distinct shift on a progressive timeline. Edwards has always maintained determined certainty that he will win here. But simply looking at the difference in word choice provides the very glimpse of an all together different landscape on the current horizon -- an Edwards-Kerry showdown after which there could be no need for a third candidate if Edwards did not come out on top.
And so, even as the candidate runs his national campaign, zipping from Missouri to South Carolina to New Mexico to Oklahoma in the coming days, the focus remains on South Carolina. There are no changes whatsoever in the playbook on display on the trail. Edwards rarely tailors his stump speech to the large crowds he now addresses (the definition of "large" seems to be forever at debate, but it is safe to say the audiences hover in and around 350 give or take, oh, 250 if that helps).
And as the press corps has grown enough to now fill a 100-seater jet for Friday's trek west, time with the candidate grows slim. Ushered in and out of events with only backstage prep time for press to check mood and get a glimpse, the Senator seems driven by the knowledge that the time is, yes, now. This is a battle in his backyard, and there is only one way out of it Edwards would like to take.
The campaign has raised $1,000,000 dollars since Iowa, $700,000 in online donations. The campaign says those are key elements to fundraising because the majority of donations are from new contributors who can be revisited in the coming weeks.
Adwise, Edwards is on the air in Missouri statewide with "Two Americas" and "Believe" in addition to the last status check. Read more from the trail with Edwards on abcnews.com: LINK
The New York Times' Randy Archibold reports on Edwards' "Bringing it Home" tour, where he "now has to show he is a genuine national contender." LINK
And now we turn to the Veepstakes. The Wall Street Journal's Al Hunt puts Edwards at the top of Sen. Kerry's list of potential running mates.
The Chicago Tribune uncovers some interesting Edwards' campaign tactics. LINK
From ABC News' Clark campaign reporter Deborah Apton:
COLUMBIA, S.C., Jan. 29 -- Gen. Wesley Clark has not been making any major news this week. Clark admits on more than one occasion that he's trying to stay on message on the stump: he continues to say he's running a positive campaign void of attacks, and he continues to say that he's certain he's going to do well on Feb. 3 -- all standard spin from a presidential hopeful and fairly uneventful news wise for national press coverage. But on Thursday a senior staffer hoped to add a little insight about the Clark campaign's fundraising and strategic status and plans for Feb. 3 and beyond.