John Edwards, Marathon Man

By Ed O'Keefe

Jan 1, 2008 5:10pm

ABC News’ David Wright and Andy Fies Report: As he embarked on his 36-hour campaign push before the Iowa caucuses, John Edwards told ABC News on Tuesday he is not worried about a new poll showing rival Barack Obama pulling further out in front here in Iowa.

The final Des Moines Register poll before the caucuses today shows Obama with 32% support, Clinton at 25% and Edwards in third place with 24%.

"It’s not bad news for us at all," Edwards, D-N.C., insisted, noting that other recent polls show a tight race among the three top Democrats, with the possibility of a photo finish Thursday night.

Edwards says stepped-up attacks from Obama as a sign that the Illinois senator sees him as a threat.  In his updated stump speech, Obama now suggests Edwards generates "more heat than light" and argues that Washington "does not need any more anger."

"They see that we’re moving and we’re moving fast," Edwards told ABC News. "They’re trying to figure out a way to blunt our powerful message of ending corporate greed and strengthening the middle class."

Tonight Edwards is pulling an all-nighter, with campaign appearances scheduled across the state pressing his message. He calls it "a marathon for the middle class."

"I’m going to do everything I have to do for this campaign and as president," he said.

Edwards declined to say whether he needs to win in Iowa in order to remain viable, but suggested that a third place showing could be difficult for any candidate to overcome.

"It’s very competitive and I think the same test applies to all three of us," he said. "All three of us want to win, but all three of us are not gonna win."

Edwards, who enjoyed the Iowa-only endorsement of Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, in 2004, cannot claim that mantle this time around, losing out to rival Obama.

Nevertheless, Edwards told reporters in Ames, Iowa, on Tuesday, "I think I am the strongest candidate for second choice among caucus goers."

"I had people come up to me after this event today and say they came in for Senator Clinton and Senator Obama and now they’re for me," Edwards added, "They just have to hear it. When they hear it and they hear it from me, they respond."

ABC News’ Raelyn Johnson contributed to this report.

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