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John Edwards will need a virtuoso performance at tonight's debate to achieve the dramatic come-from-behind win he needs to stay alive. He's facing an opponent in Barack Obama who proved with his amazing Iowa victory that he is an extraordinary organizer, possibly a strategic genius, and above all an inspiring presence who captured Iowans' hunger for change. And he's got momentum. And let's not forget Hillary Clinton, who can count on lots of money, a ruthless campaign operation, and real affection for her and Bill Clinton in the state.

But Edwards can definitely win - with a slight retooling of his message.

- Give us a little hope
The first thing Edwards has to do is combine his anti-corporate message with an inspiring vision of a hopeful future. Anti-corporate attacks, though they strike a chord with many Democratic voters, can only go so far.

You also need to give voters a great hope that you can do better, especially now that most Democrats and most Americans are feeling excited about the possibility of real change that the Iowa result represented. Obama has been very effective at wrapping himself in hope. Reviving Edwards's successful 2004 speech line, "Hope is on the way," would be a great start.

- Talk about Bringing People Together, but the Right People
Obama's message about "bringing people together" to achieve real change clearly resonated with voters. But too often in the past, Obama has brought together the wrong people: corporate executives and right-wing Republicans, resulting in his support for items like expanding the North American Free Trade Agreement to Peru, nuclear power, liquid coal, George Bush's 2005 energy bill (full of billions in subsidies to oil, coal, and nuclear companies). Edwards needs to talk about bringing people together too, but say that he's bringing ordinary Americans together to achieve the transformative change this country needs. After all, Edwards is the guy who somehow managed to win the endorsement of both the anti-coal Friends of the Earth and the coal-supporting United Mine Workers (in addition to the Steelworkers, Transport Workers, Carpenters and SEIU locals), a really stunning Blue-Green alliance.
 

- It's about specifics, not about power
Especially of late, Edwards has resorted to broad oblique criticisms of his opponents, saying for instance, that, "You can't nice these people to death," a reference to Obama's repeated willingness to make massive accommodations to corporate executives. These attacks are just to oblique and lots of voters won't connect the dots. They really remind me of Howard Dean's ineffective and overly raw paeans to power in the last days of the 2004 Iowa caucus fight. Rather than saying that Hillary Clinton is too close to lobbyists and Barack Obama is too accommodating of the corporate executives responsible for America's problems, Edwards has to show it. Obama's record is full of dangerous capitulations to corporate executives (which I wrote about here and here). And Hillary Clinton directly lobbied to let the giant International Paper logging company poison New Hamsphire residents by burning tires (an issue that needs to get more attention in the Granite State).  Also, when you criticize on specifics rather than generalities, it usually seems like a sincere comparison rather than a gratuitous attack.  It seems like Edwards's campaign is starting to talk more specifics, but Edwards himself will have to do it himself to make the message really resonate.

An Edwards win - or a very strong second place showing - is possible, but it's going to take something big and new to make it happen.

- Glenn Hurowitz is the president of Democratic Courage, a political action committee dedicated to electing a "progressive, courageous, and winning" president. He is also the author of the "brilliant" and "compelling" new book, Fear and Courage in the Democratic Party.

Originally posted to glennhurowitz on Sat Jan 05, 2008 at 07:43 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  big and new? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Rogneid, noonan2

    define that for me

    We need to talk with our wallets because no one is listening to our words

    by one pissed off democrat on Sat Jan 05, 2008 at 07:46:08 AM PST

    •  Basically the things (0+ / 0-)

      I talked about above that.

      •  smartest thing in your diary was (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        jorndorff, freon500

        your admonition to edwards to stop the Johnny-One-Note act:

        corporate greed! corporate greed!
        corporate greed! corporate greed!
        corporate greed! corporate greed!
        corporate greed! corporate greed!
        corporate greed! corporate greed!
        corporate greed! corporate greed!
        corporate greed! corporate greed!
        corporate greed! corporate greed!

        GREED I TELL YOU!!! GREEEEEEEEEED!!!!

        I got tased in *The Great Markos Candidate Meltdown Cranky Pants Sting of Ought 7*

        by blueterp on Sat Jan 05, 2008 at 08:30:04 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  I read your diary (0+ / 0-)

        what does he need?  big and New is too vague, I am the one who wrote the diaries on corporate greed

        We need now to move into the "national security" secrets that drove the republicans to war, and freezes the democrats

        We need to talk with our wallets because no one is listening to our words

        by one pissed off democrat on Sun Jan 06, 2008 at 05:13:05 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Edwards in NV too (4+ / 0-)

    I think that not only does John need to come in 2nd in NH, he, more than any other candidate, needs the strong support of the unions in NV to stay afloat. I cannot think of another candidate that advocates as strongly as he does for unions, but the fact that so many are withholding support is troubling. Even if it is "wait and see" after NH, it's troubling.

    The best sig is no sig.

    by noonan2 on Sat Jan 05, 2008 at 07:50:43 AM PST

    •  He has a lot of union support (8+ / 0-)

      and the rest of them seem to be risk aversive.  They want him to fight their fight and they will join in with a guarantee of winning.  

      Edwards has changed the dialog on health care, the war, unions and economic disparity.  I just admire his doggedness and spirit.  He is unwilling to concede an inch.  That is why he has my support.

      It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change. Charles Darwin

      by pioneer111 on Sat Jan 05, 2008 at 07:55:25 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  yup, union support (0+ / 0-)

        that vaunted union support sure helped him out in iowa, unlike obama that corporatist closet-right-winger ...

        oh ... wait ...

        obama won union households.

        what now.

        I got tased in *The Great Markos Candidate Meltdown Cranky Pants Sting of Ought 7*

        by blueterp on Sat Jan 05, 2008 at 08:31:22 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Edwards needs a boost (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Rogneid, planetclaire4, freon500

    John Edwards needs a boost.  After the Iowa Caucus, I have been thinking if Edwards should change his message to being more hopeful.  Obama is on a roll right now being a uniter, and that is drawing a lot of attention from moderates and even some republicans.  
    Edwards needs to be VERY charismatic tonight.  

    I do not like the fact that Hillary is ahead in the polls right now.  There is a lot of ground to make up for Edwards in very little time in New Hampshire.  

    •  Changing his message would (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      planetclaire4, freon500, gdwtch52

      be a great mistake. He is by nature hopeful, and his stump speech is not that different from Obama's, he is hopeful that together we can change the world. To try to drive that home would make him look like an imitation of Obama, to continue with fighting for us, and going after the corporations has worked so far, and it can work in N.H. too. Edwards is a better debater than both Hillary and Obama, that is where he needs to concentrate, he needs to tonight be the best trail lawyer ever, and debate the hell out of the two of them. That is what people will be looking for, not who is the nastiest, or the most hopeful, but who can take a question, and debate the shit out of it.

      •  There needs to be some sort of retooling. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        freon500

        He started to sound like a broken record by the end of December.  The campaign ads especially were bad compared to the ones Obama put out in the week or two ahead of the caucus.

        •  Both Edwards and Obama are starting (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          planetclaire4

          to sound like a broken record at this point. Hell, I can almost recite both their stump speeches. Hillary sounds a bit different, but that is so indicative of all things Clinton, put your finger in the air, see which way the wind is  blowing and adjust. The same old stump speech, says something, it says, they believe in what they are saying, believe it is right and will not change principles. I think to be authentic is the key, and now more than ever you have to be authentic.

        •  Bullshit. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          chigh, Notus

          We Edwards supporters don't need people like you who think they know what he needs to do when it is just hot air and displays ignorance of what is going on.

          It's the media who are in the tank for corporate interests.  Edwards could walk on water and heal the sick and have it all on camera, and those sons of bitches would ignore him anyway.

          You don't understand the dynamic going on in this country any more than that dipshit Obama.  Reconcile with the people who have RAPED THIS COUNTRY?  Are you fucking kidding me?

          The media have spoken.  We have to pick Obama.  They are in the process of destroying Hillary Clinton and they may succeed.  And we will once again, because of morons in Iowa, New Hampshire, and everywhere else who are unable to see through the total corruption of the U.S. media, have a repeat of 1972 where the Republican candidate will destroy the Democratic nominee.

          Thanks a lot, Obama supporters, for doing the media's bidding.

          •  I am still now and have been since 2004 (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            SSMir

            a John Edwards supporter. He is the only candidate I have sent one dime to. However, I can see clearly, no matter how much I agree with John Edwards and his fight against the corporations who are destroying America and our American way of life, that it is most likely Barack Obama who will beat Hillary Clinton for the nomination. Obama has always been my second choice, and I think a good second choice. My dream ticket was always Edwards/Obama, with Edwards on the top of the ticket. What I suggest, I suggest because I have been around long enough, and know enough people who are intrigued by John Edwards are intrigued because of his firm stands about fighting the corporations. To change his rhetoric now would only make him look disingenuous, and just in it to win it at all costs, like Hillary. You have no idea where I am coming from and yet you go and call me ignorant and full of hot air. It is bullshit like this that will cause Edwards to be defeated, think before you speak, or write, and try to find out something about the person you are addressing. In other words, "Grow Up"!!!

          •  Something I just thought of, (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            SSMir

            As an Edwards supporter, several months ago I wrote both John Edwards and Barack Obama a letter about an issue concerning wall street investment firms getting into the business of running nursing homes, much to the detriment of the nursing homes residents, some even dying of neglect at their hands. Less than 3 weeks later I received a response from Barack Obama. I know the letter came from the campaign, with Obama's signature, but he addressed my concerns, and without asking for a donation, he pledged to look into the problem. To this day, I have still heard nothing from John Edwards or his campaign. My support for him still did not waiver, I just thought he had more important things on his agenda, rather than answer my petty little letter. However, it made me sit up and take notice of Barack Obama, and listen when he says he will listen and take all things under consideration. My letter writing episode didn't sour me on John Edwards, it just made me consider Obama too. He is not a dip shit, and I resent your anger and name calling, you are no  better than the Clinton supporters, and attitudes like yours can easily turn one against your candidate.

  •  Great suggestions (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Rogneid, lenzy1000, freon500, gdwtch52

    Go Edwards!

    Vote John Edwards and break the corporate media stranglehold on American politics.

    by Subversive on Sat Jan 05, 2008 at 07:58:20 AM PST

  •  no disrespect to obama (10+ / 0-)

    but I don't want his hope. Hope has done shit for me, for the desperate residents of New Orleans, and the troops and civilians in Iraq. Hope is a cheap word, a world beloved by advertising and marketing. Hope meant something once, but no more--not in this new world.

    I want change. "Hope" and "change" are miles apart. Once there is change--or even the beginnings of change--we can afford to hope again.

  •  Tonight, (8+ / 0-)

    I don't think John Edwards should attack Obama, he can go after Hillary, but to attack Obama will only make him look like a sore 2nd place loser. I think he should be honest, and repeat that he thinks fighting the corporations is better than negotiating with them, but he should recognize why Obama has such a strong following and try to appeal to those followers. He needs to drive up his numbers in N.H.,at the very least come in 2nd, the only way he can possibly do that at all is to mow down Hillary, and point out she is not only "old news", but indicative of the status quo. He and Obama need to shine as the new faces of the Democrats. Edwards is capable of doing that, and he can win by not only offering change, but offering a different approach to that change. My husband is typical of a N.H. independent, and he is for Edwards first, Obama second, he will never consider Hillary. That is who Edwards needs to appeal to, those undecided independents, the ones in N.H. are truly independent, and like to show just how independent they are.

  •  I agree (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SSMir, freon500

    His message sort of stagnated in the weeks leading up to the Iowa caucus.  I felt like he needed to take it to a new level but Obama really pushed through to close out Iowa.  Edwards got out-organized and I would have rather seen him put some more money into organization instead of into another commercial buy.  

    Obama's super-effective use of the media and grassroots organization might be too much to overcome, but I'd like to see Edwards push our agenda as far as he can.

  •  Glenn, I agree except for one thing (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    planetclaire4, freon500

    You referenced the tire burning thing to your own article, but you need to be honest: that incident happened in NY, not NH.

  •  I think John should talk more about (7+ / 0-)

    restoring America's greatness. Throw out some of that stuff that Reagan voters loved. Talk about keeping America's jobs here. Talk about being patriotic about something other than war.

    •  I agree (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      planetclaire4, jamess, lenzy1000, gdwtch52

      Yeah, that morning in America crap goes down smooth. Nothing wrong with adding a little feelgood into his message.  

      It also seems to me that the country has heard enough from the man at Maytag who lost his job, although his story is compelling. Can Edwards' people get other testimonials from those who've seen their jobs go overseas? Seen one of their friends or loved ones get less-than-stellar care for illnesses...or no care at all?

      I think his folks should find 5 of these people, line 'em up, and let 'em talk.

  •  This is what gets me (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    benny05, planetclaire4, jamess, gdwtch52

    Obama had more field offices, money and paid workers, but he has the nerve to say on the MTP that other candidates had "sturdier" organizations in Iowa and had been there longer.  It's just not true.  

    http://www.johnedwards.com/ http://steveyoungforcongress.com/2008/

    by Ellinorianne on Sat Jan 05, 2008 at 08:41:09 AM PST

  •  "Hope" is as Elizabeth said.... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    benny05, planetclaire4, gdwtch52

    using the strategy of the America's Cup. He keeps taking JRE's issues and phrases. Tacking in front off JRE too hold the lead...not leadership....

  •  Don't forget the old adage: (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    planetclaire4, gdwtch52

    "Hope is not an investment strategy."

    We need to have confidence to win, not merely hope.

  •  Glen, thanks for posting,.. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    planetclaire4, gdwtch52

    John Edward's message is perfect the way it is.  He just has to tell it to N.H.in such a way so they can hear it.

    With weak Democrats like these who needs the warmongering Republicans,....

    by freon500 on Sat Jan 05, 2008 at 08:52:21 AM PST

  •  Sure Edwards Does. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    chigh, planetclaire4

    Tell me how he is going to do that, with a hostile media that's now written him off and is going  after Hillary Clinton to knock her off so idiotic Democrats can vote for the media and Republican stooge who will be destroyed in the GE.  Especially if you have Richardson and that worthless prick Kucinich on the stage to trash JRE.

    Edwards cannot damage Hillary further; she should be going after the moronic frontrunner Obama.  Edwards should let the two have it out and concentrate on his own message.

    He will be ignored anyway, but I hope he hangs in there until Super Tuesday and beyond.

    Democrats unfortunately have too many morons in their ranks, especially among the young.  Iowa proved that beyond doubt.  People will complain that I use "ad hominems" or whatever they're called, but if you're an Obama supporter, you are a moron who is helping the fascists in the GOP to retain control of the White House and possibly regain  Congress and ruin other Democrats downticket.

  •  strategic genius? (0+ / 0-)

    obama apparently spent 2 additional million dollars to win one additional extra national delegate.

    check the diary on money versus results.

    these people just blow my mind. i wonder how much obama and clinton spent on TV ads.

    I am further of the opinion that the President must be impeached and removed from office!

    by UntimelyRippd on Sat Jan 05, 2008 at 09:35:09 AM PST

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