John Edwards positions himself for the primaries Posted by: McQ
on Sunday, May 27, 2007
Salena Zito, of the Pittsburg Tribune-Review, points out how, politically, John Edwards is positioning himself as the anti-war candidate and planning to ride that horse to a win in the primaries:
But this Memorial Day weekend, after holding steady to his lead in the polls in Iowa, John Edwards will try to make himself over as the anti-war candidate and then never look back.
Through ads and a newly launched Web site — www.supporthetroopsendthewar.com — Edwards asks Americans to "call on our government to support our troops in the most important way it can, by ending this war and bringing them home."
"Watch out for John Edwards," says Democrat political strategist Steve McMahon. "The position he is staking out on the war is far more popular with a much bigger group of Democratic primary voters than anyone currently understands."
And if he can just stop being associated with copious amounts of cash and hair gel, and get on with the business of being a serious in-your-face anti-war candidate, he just might be successful.
Edwards' position — which he staked out by rapping the Bush administration's use of the phrase "war on terror" as a Republican bumper sticker — is in a position that many Democrats wanted their primary candidates to occupy.
With the MoveOn.org crowd bitterly disappointed by the way Congress' Democrat leadership has fizzled on cutting war funding, Edwards is reading this one just right.
If the Howard Dean campaign taught Democrats anything, it is this: If you have the right candidate, with the right message, the grassroots will flock to you.
John Edwards understands that and now is actually doing something about it.
Now, anyone, who are the so called "Democratic primary voters" and the "grassroots" voters to whom Zito is referring? Well take her hint and think back to the Howard Dean campaign and what that online activist community eventually became.
Yes. Netroots. John Edwards certainly understands the politics of primaries. He understands how the level of anger with current Democratic leadership works in his favor. He further understands that as someone outside of government and not constrained by any office, he is much more free to say things (and do things) that a sitting Senator can't afford.
And that means he has an advantage, at least in the primaries. Right now, as he well knows, that's all that counts. You can only get to the big game by winning the primaries. Activists, in a much larger proportion than in the general elections, vote in primaries.
So in terms of politics, this is both a smart and good move. Whether it translates into anything of substance beyond the primaries, of course, unclear. That, of course, will depend on the mood of the country in Nov of '08, not May of '07.
Oh, and he still manages to step on it. His $400 haircut (and lame explanation), his $55,000 "poverty speech" and his call for anti-war protests on Memorial Day all have blown back on him. He has, to his credit, adjusted his Memorial Day plea:
Get vocal. Buy a bunch of poster-board and markers. At a picnic or with family and friends, make signs that say “SUPPORT THE TROOPS - END THE WAR.” Bring them to your local Memorial Day parade. Many parades are held on Saturday or Sunday. If your parade is on Monday, however, we ask that you choose another action to honor the fallen. Then take a digital photo of yourself and your family or friends holding up the poster and tell us about it. We’ll include it in a “Democracy Photo Album” on our site.
Can you imagine showing up at a friend or family picnic with anti-war posters. Yeesh. Regardless it is good to see him back off the call for anti-war protests on Memorial Day proper. Of course, whether or not those he's urging to protest this weekend have the good taste and class to heed his advice is a completely different story.
I somehow doubt I’ll see any anti-war protesters (Edwards supporters) at the BBQ I’m attending today, or the picnic we’ll be at tomorrow. Wouldn’t be prudent...too many prior service folks in attendance :-)