Edwards Banking on Change and Grassroots Support

Going into tonight's debate, the former senator says N.H. isn't make or break.

Jan. 5, 2008— -- John Edwards is hoping to shine at tonight's ABC News/Facebook New Hampshire debate.

After campaigning extensively throughout Iowa, he edged out Hillary Clinton to place second in the caucuses there on Thursday. He finished with 30 percent, just ahead of Clinton, who got 29 percent. Barack Obama, with his message of change, won the day with 38 percent.

Now in New Hampshire, where he has a smaller operation than he had in Iowa, Edwards is banking on grassroots support to buoy him.

"I've got to make it clear to voters here what it is I stand for. Getting heard is not easy, because what happened in Iowa, if you step back from it, is I finished between two $100 million candidates with all the publicity and glamour in the world," Edwards told "Good Morning America Weekend" anchor Kate Snow during an interview in Portsmouth, N.H.

Edwards has taken up the mantra adopted by so many candidates in this election who are talking about themselves as agents of change. He said Iowa was proof that change is what voters want.

"I think what happened in Iowa was status quo was rejected and they voted for change, and Sen. Obama and I are the two change candidates, so it's important for voters in New Hampshire to understand the differences in how we approach bringing about change," he said.

The former North Carolina senator was running third in the Granite State, according to a Reuters/C-SPAN/Zogby poll released today. Clinton led the way with 32 percent, with Obama in second with the support of 28 percent. But Edwards said he was not deterred.

"Here in New Hampshire, they're kind of honorary and independent minded," he said. "They kind of like to fool people, so if they hear what I have to say fighting for the middle class and jobs and standing up to this entrenched special interest, power money, I think they will respond."

Besides voter support, the one other thing Edwards may need is money. Earlier this week he told ABC News that he would have "plenty of money" to keep competing, but both Obama and Clinton are better financed and better organized than he is in New Hampshire.

"They got a lot of money and they're spending it, but I think what we've seen in New Hampshire time and time again is they don't believe in auctions -- they believe in elections and they often actually reject the big money candidates," Edwards said.

Though he barely beat Clinton in Iowa, Edwards said he believes the result sent a big message to what he calls the Clinton "machine."

"I think by the end of the year and being able to sort of be the underdog and beat that machine, even in a close race, as we did in Iowa, I think says a lot about how democracy can work at a grassroots level," he said.

Even if New Hampshire doesn't work out well for Edwards, he said he's not going to be deterred.

"I'm in this for the long haul," he said. "I'm going to be the nominee."