John Edwards on the Campaign Trail

But other than those bright spots and the biggest crowds to date at events, these long days in New Hampshire can feel like weeks, months or years to a campaign itching to get down South. The hierarchy of news stories, with Kerry's comeback leading the headlines, Dean's stumble second up and Edwards' third tier (if that) is getting old to a campaign looking to capitalize on that Iowa surge.

And so? Hedge your bets and pop your head into home turf - that is the strategy for the rest of the week. Edwards will make one more visit to South Carolina before the final push in to primary day when he jets down south for a Friday afternoon appearance.

Dogging Edwards

MANCHESTER, NH, Jan 21— While the extent to which this story dogs Edwards today remains to be seen (he has only one event before the debate) last night it certainly had the press corps buzzing, calling, phoning in etc., after his avail.

Internally, the Iowa surge is not surprisingly attributed in no small part to the entire field effort (which according to all accounts succeeded due to thoroughness and intensity) and it is hard to think something like this would pass unnoticed--still sources at every level won't budge on indicating who knew what, and when.

Of course all the traveling press corps wants to determine is what Edwards knew, and when. Just before his avail Edwards was asked, in the Q&A session at his Portsmouth Town Hall, what he thought about Gephardt. Edwards went on extensively about what a "good man" Gephardt is and how he could absolutely see including him in an "Edwards Administration" without a doubt. Juxtaposed against the literature in the packet on Gephardt (which says he led Congress to lose the House)--however prefaced it may be by caveat flattery--the story could prove prickly for Edwards particularly given the window in which it broke. While in Iowa 4 days out we were hearing many audience members "heavily leaning toward" and decided for the Senator, here in NH (and in a very unscientific post-event poll) the majority seem to be undecided. At this point the most damaging potential is what his rivals tell people on the trail and how it plays tonight at the debate.

Edwards himself was decidedly lawyerly and deft in deflection, and already word is the campaign handled the incident well by nipping it in the bud. I expect it to come up again today if he does an avail, but the campaign is resolute in moving on.

Two Fronts

GREENVILLE, SC, Jan. 20— And on the first day back in New Hampshire?

The Senator did not sleep. The Senator did not run. And the Senator did not drink absurdly copious amounts of diet coke.

Not a bad price for second place out of Iowa and a ticket of momentum into New Hampshire.

No time to sleep or run, what with hitting four states in less than 24-hours. Edwards started his day in the wee Tuesday morning hours when wheels hit New Hampshire ground in Concord. After two events he went on to two fundraisers in New York and one in Boston, finishing the day in Greenville, South Carolina. Tomorrow he attends an early morning rally in Greenville, SC - a move intended to show Edwards "staking his claim" to his home state.

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