by Molly Kenney
Former Senator John Edwards announced today from New Orleans that he is dropping out of the presidential race. With campaign donations on the rise and a new wave of pre-Super Tuesday publicity, the most populist candidate in decades seemed as if he was in it until the Democratic convention (despite the obstacles cited in "John Edwards, We Hardly Knew Ye"). In fact, after the South Carolina primary, Edwards said he was in it until the end, and now he is not.
In his departing speech, Edwards assured supporters that his passion — fighting poverty and ending what he called the "Two Americas" — would be carried on by Senators Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. Speaking of the workers who share his goal of economic justice, he said, “It's hard to speak out for change when you feel like your voice is not being heard.” Projecting, John? The media, and consequently most of America, may not have noticed him, but hopefully one media darling has.
It’s hard to believe that a man who persevered through his child’s death and his wife’s battle with cancer would give up on anything, but it’s easier to believe for a man in the middle of his second unsuccessful campaign. He and his team are smart enough to know, and have known for awhile, that he wasn’t going all the way and that he could dangerously divide the Democratic vote. So what stopped him now? The Kennedy family endorsement of Sen. Obama (D-IL) couldn’t have been the straw (despite the comparable physical enormity of Sen. Ted and a camel), and his campaign hasn’t disintegrated like former Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s has. I smell a deal, or at least, I hope for one.
In his announcement today, Edwards did not endorse Obama or Clinton, but he has been associating with Obama for quite some time. As early as the Iowa caucuses, Edwards and Obama were both pushing "change" and collaboratively fighting "the status quo:" Sen. Clinton. In debates and on the campaign trail, they have been relatively soft on each other but tough on Sen. Clinton (D-NY). Obama and Edwards can work together, and it looks like already they are working in unison. By leaving the race, Edwards could be taking one for the team and withholding his endorsement as game strategy.
But Obama has other options, if he wants a running mate, someone like Sen. James Webb (D-VA), who looks a lot like the white Southern man that the Democratic party wants. Webb is a Vietnam veteran, and garners media attention. Gov. Bill Richardson (D-NM) would help with the Latino vote and Obama's foreign policy weaknesses, but the media cared less about Richardson than they did Edwards. However, considering Edwards’ populist fire and legacy of two failed campaigns, Webb and Richardson might be safer options. But since when has making change meant playing it safe. If Obama’s call for change is as sincere and passionate as Edwards’ call for ending poverty and the class structure, then Obama should go after it with Edwards as his running mate.
With Edwards out of the race, here’s to compromised dreams. Here’s to Obama-Edwards 2008.
For more background on the election campaign, please see these archival posts:
- "Iowa: Stopping Hillary Clinton's Juggernaut;"
- "New Hampshire: Barack Obama's Latest Hope;"
- "How the Media Killed the Kucinich Campaign;"
- "Campaign 2008: Mainstream Media, Take a Deep Breath;"
- "Mike Huckabee, Texas Ranger;" and
- "Hillary Clinton Does not Deserve to be President."
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