by Progressive America, Sat Jan 05, 2008 at 12:40:16 AM EST
While other candidates were busy speaking to their choirs at the Dinner's Club, Edwards began his final grassroots push in New Hampshire, answering questions and speaking with voters. Yesterday he held three events, all with large crowds, and the campaign will hold several more rallies, house parties, and canvassing kickoff events today before Edwards takes part in the New Hampshire debate tonight. Yes, John and Elizabeth are still fighting hard for our cause and we should continue to fight on too. There is a lot of goods news coming from NH, from new polling numbers, large crowds, undecided voters going to Edwards, SEIU and union support, and record fundraising. The campaign is also beginning to make major distinctions with Obama.
The Concord Monitor gives a fair and very positive overview of Edwards' events from yesterday and how the campaign is going forward. I highly recommend reading the whole thing, it gave me a boost reading it.
Firstly, Edwards embraces the idea of being Seabiscuit.
He painted himself as the rough-and-tumble fighter - not the candidate with money or with "glitz," but the one with gritty resolve who can "galvanize America to this cause" of fighting corporate power.
By afternoon, he had embraced the metaphor that his wife, Elizabeth, had introduced in the morning of Edwards as Seabiscuit, the race horse of the 1930s who started his career with a losing record and became a champion.
"Seabiscuit was the horse of the working class, owned by a bicycle repairman and ridden by someone who wasn't supposed to make it," Edwards said to a crowd of about 350 at the Radisson Hotel in Nashua.
Later, during a speech to a standing-room only crowd of at least 550 at Portsmouth's Frank Jones conference center, he used a different analogy.
Wow, 550 people. That's more than he was even getting at most events in Iowa and must be one of his largest crowds ever in New Hampshire. I'm telling you, I think the other campaigns are really going to be surprised next Tuesday. I like this idea of being portrayed as Seabiscuit, so that way if we do well it will have even more of an effect after NH. It's a very positive meme and doesn't do anything but help us.
"New Hampshire knows what it's like to be the underdog and to run against a team from New York with all the money in the world," he said.
He said he likes being the underdog.
"I embrace it," he said. "I'm ready for this battle."
The last event of the night, for which he skipped the Democratic Party's 100 Club dinner, was his strongest of the day. The crowd listened with quiet attention as he talked about loosening the "iron grip" that corporate power has on the United States.
"We're going to rise up as a people and say, 'Enough is enough,' " he said.
That's right. No more compromises, no more negotiation. Enough is enough, let's end the power that big business has on this country and take it back for ourselves.
There are more distinctions with Obama and the campaign is starting to make them clear.
He [David Bonior] said Edwards differs from Obama on three major points: Edwards opposes building more nuclear power. His health care plan includes a mandate that would cover everyone. And he opposes trade deals in the spirit of the North American Free Trade Act.
Very good job by Bonior. New Hampshire is very much opposed to nuclear power and Edwards shares that opinion. I hope Edwards can make that distinction with Obama very clear during the debate. No more nuclear power plants. It's time to stop them, so we can have a healthy and renewable energy economy.
The trade difference is also a good one. While Hillary and Obama were supporting various trade deals, Edwards was openly opposing them. He also has campaigned all across the country for increases in the minimum wage and is still calling for a $9.50 living wage, easier and better bargaining rights for workers, and economic policies that will benefit all of us, like his universal health care plan and investment packages.
At the Portsmouth event, Edwards faced some of the toughest questions he has heard in New Hampshire in recent months. He was asked about immigration, human rights abuses in China, abortion and why the media perceives him as the angry candidate.
To the latter, Edwards said presidents like Teddy Roosevelt and Harry Truman were likely called angry.
"But they weren't," he said. "They were just strong."
I think it's another terrific respose by Edwards. We all really know why the media is calling him angry. Anytime they see someone like Roosevelt or Truman that threaten the establishment they know they are in trouble. Edwards is strong, not angry. He's strong for us and he's going to fight for us.
He convinced some voters at the event, which I think was a lot more than anyone convinced at that supporter media show event the others went to. Actually 550 people showed up to the Edwards event, which Edwards had to himself, and I think also had a lot more undecideds than the dinner.
Debbie Goldfarb, 57, of Portsmouth said she came to the event undecided and left feeling sure about Edwards, particularly after hearing him say government shouldn't tell a women what to do with her body, regarding abortion.
"He's the only one who's had the nerve to say it how I feel it," she said.
This is something a lot of voters don't know about Edwards. He is the best on women's issues, he's the best on young people's issues, on environental and health care policy, and the list goes on and on. Edwards is a true progressive and if voters inform themselves before voting, I think Edwards will do very well in New Hampshire, because his views are very well suited for the state.
Even before this last push, there are signs that Edwards' message is catching on. From the latest Zogby tracking poll, taken before the Iowa results:
This is a very good place to start off, as we're not far away from either Hillary or Obama. I have to imagine Hillary's support is going to drop a bit and undecideds will break heavily for Obama and Edwards, so there is definitely a good chance Edwards could surpass her. Luckily, we are in the backseat now, we're the underdogs. Any kind of good performance Edwards gets in NH is going to be shocking to the media and would make headlines, so we're in a very good position right now. If we're really lucky, Hillary and Obama might even tear themselves apart, allowing Edwards to sneak up on both of them.
If fundraising numbers mean anything, then we definitely have momentum.
"We have been absolutely overwhelmed by the response to Sen. Edwards' strong finish in Iowa," said Edwards' senior strategist Joe Trippi. "We're on track for our best online fundraising day ever, since www.JohnEdwards.com went up a year ago - and half of the contributions we're seeing are from new donors to the campaign. That speaks volumes to the strength of John Edwards' message of standing up and fighting for the middle class."
Half of the contributions were from first-time donors and 93% were less than $100. That's pretty impressive people movement.
The SEIU and other unions are also lending support.
Edwards also remains well positioned to compete in his home state of South Carolina - which he won in 2004 by 15 percentage points. And to help Edwards compete in the February 5th states, last night the coalition of 12 SEIU state councils that have endorsed Edwards announced they would spend an additional $1.5 million on communication and voter turnout among the more than 750,000 SEIU members in those states.
Much of their support will be in the form of convassing and GOTV from the New Hampshire and Massachussetts SEIU, which both endorsed Edwards locally in those states. It's going to be a big boost to counter the money for paid staff coming from the other campaigns. It's also good to have local workers campaigning on Edwards' behalf.
Some of this canvassing for the Edwards campaign will begin today. Long-time progressive activist Ben Cohen from the Ben and Jerry Ice Cream chain, will be lending his help in Lebanon. Edwards, meanwhile, will kickoff convassing in Portsmouth. Both events will be at 9:00 AM. It looks to be a very busy day for volunteers, staff, Ben Cohen, Elizabeth, and John. Here's the schedule.
Canvass Kickoff with John Edwards
Portsmouth, Jan 5th, 9:00 AM
Canvass Kickoff with Ben Cohen
Lebanon, Jan 5th, 9:00 AM
Rally with John Edwards
Concord, Jan 5th, 10:15 AM
House Party with Elizabeth
Derry, Jan 5th, 12:30 PM
Town Hall with John Edwards
Lebanon, Jan 5th, 1:15 PM
House Party with Elizabeth
Peterborough, Jan 5th, 3:00 PM
Just four candidates will be at the debate, so it will give John a great opportunity to give his uplifting progressive message and allow it to contrast with the manipulative work going on in the other campaigns about their records and use of talking points that hide the truth.
Let's keep the momentum going!
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