John Edwards on the Campaign Trail

As a grumbling press corps made its way to Hair Force One for the quick flight to Norfolk, Va., it was noted that the press bus passed the Battleship Wisconsin (while driving down "Bousch Street" no less). The campaign would seemingly get there sooner rather than later, having for all intents and purposes conceded a second place finish. If Edwards pulls anything else off in either Tennessee or Virginia, it will be considered a huge victory, no doubt spun as a come-from-behind triumph over media momentum.

Already the campaign has taken pre-emptive measures and scheduled a 6:00 pm ET departure for Milwaukee, Wis., in order to fit in an evening event to kick off a two-day tour of duty. Edwards will make only one public appearance at a polling station in Virginia in the early in the morning before retreating to closed-door meetings and down-time before wheels up to Wisconsin. The march toward Feb. 17 has begun.

As Sweet As Tupelo Honey …

33,000 feet and rising over TUPELO, Ala., en route to MEMPHIS, Tenn., Feb. 3 — For the Edwards campaign, it is as easy to romance in reflection as it was almost all too intoxicating to experience. The backstage post-speech moments when John Edwards paused between grinding out interviews, taking intermittent turns to glance up at a television screen showing him up a point in Oklahoma, then a point and a half, then tied. His eyebrows raised as he slugged down water and shook his head, and staff let themselves think about whether they should send their candidate back out into the crowd to celebrate Oklahoma's results.

How dramatic and enticing, how the headlines might have sung, the storyline that might have been if Edwards had taken by a declarable point or two the Sooner State of Oklahoma in addition to his decisive win in South Carolina.

As it is, South Carolina was sweet all around, and seemingly enough on its own to take the campaign where they say they want to be.

Edwards headed straight to Tennessee and Virginia, where the battle plans are in place for a stand against Senator Kerry. The campaign will call their Oklahoma finish essentially a tie for first, as late night/early morning tallies had the difference between the General and the son of a mill worker numbered in the low hundreds region.

Still in flux are final decisions on how and when to play in Michigan. Campaign sources cite recent endorsements and public polling as reasons to go, but expensive airwaves and airtight scheduling as reasons to stay away. Already the campaign has started to rumble over Wisconsin, where they say the real battle between two Democratic candidates will go down.

Michigan is like the quarterfinal in the Post -season playoffs. On one page in the playbook, the campaign has a bye straight to the semi-finals by leapfrogging the state and putting their starting lineup to the test in the later Southern states. On the other page in the playbook, a strong quarterfinal might help in the next round, but there is the risk of injury. Top aides will meet today while the candidate campaigns in Tennessee and Virginia to strategize, organize and for the first time bat around the beginnings of a March game plan.

But in the immediate future look for the Senator to read David Letterman's Top Ten List from New York Wednesday evening. Edwards will fly to New York for fundraising in addition to Letterman after campaign events in Memphis, Tenn. and Norfolk, Va.

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