Edwards tried to make light of Hillary Rodham Clinton's big
lead in national polls Monday, saying that four years ago it
looked as if Howard Dean might run away with the
campaigning in Iowa, the state that will hold leadoff
caucuses in January, said his organization is much stronger
than at this point in the 2004 campaign, which saw him
eventually win a surprise second-place finish.
Clinton now leads
in Iowa as well as nationally, according to the latest
polling. The Des Moines Register on Sunday had her at
29% in the state, up from 21% previously, with Edwards
at 23%, down from 29%. Barack Obama was at 22%.
Asked about a
belief among some that a Clinton nomination is inevitable,
Edwards brushed the idea aside.
''I lived through
the inevitability of Howard Dean,'' he said.
chairman of the Democratic National Committee, was the
front-runner in polls and fund-raising in the 2004 election
cycle before finishing third in the Iowa caucuses
behind John Kerry and Edwards.
''I know that
what happens, from my experience in 2004, is people look
much more intensely at you as a candidate the closer you get
to the caucus,'' he said. ''A lot of the celebrity
fades away. So, I think as a practical matter, that
increased the intensity of his criticism of Clinton in
recent days, and his wife was asked about that in an
interview on National Public Radio's All Things Considered.
When Edwards was
a boy, said Elizabeth Edwards, his father told him that
if he was in a fight and had to hit back, ''aim for the
nose; you sort of get more bang for your buck there.''
''So you have to
aim for their vulnerability and make them understand
that there is a cost associated with attacking you,'' Mrs.
Edwards said. ''You're not going to lay down. You're
strong enough not only to take it but to hit back. It
gives you an opportunity, I think, when you're
fighting on even ground to redirect the conversation to
something more productive for voters.''
himself, speaking to reporters after an event in south
central Iowa, said he thinks about half of Iowans are still
wrapping up a four-day, 17-county swing through Iowa. The
trip was largely aimed at rural Iowans, and he spoke about
aiding family farms, extending technology into all
corners of the country and offering incentives to
attract top teachers throughout the country.
''We need a
president who instead of standing up for these big,
corporate farming corporations, actually stands up for
the family farmer,'' he told a crowd of more than 150
people in Corydon, a town of about 1,600.
said Edwards was the first of the front-runners to visit
Wayne County, where he spoke at a museum featuring old farm
for creating up to a million new jobs by making the
country more energy independent with cleaner alternatives to
oil. ''A lot of those jobs ought to be in rural
America,'' he said.
He blamed the
Bush administration for the number of Americans who
struggle to make ends meet and said, ''We have the worst
economic equality in this country since the Great
''You look at
what's happening under Bush, and we've got a few people who
are doing extremely well and everybody else is struggling,''
he told the group, which included farmers wearing bib
Edwards has been
working to throw off the image of a wealthy politician
with an extravagant home and expensive haircuts, and
distinguish himself as a candidate for the working
people. He frequently accuses his rivals, especially
Clinton, of being Washington insiders out of touch with real
people. At almost every stop he reminds crowds that his
father was a mill worker, and that he put in his time
at the mill before college. (Amy Lorentzen, AP)