Tuesday, August 14, 2007

John Edwards' Attack Dog

It seems that Elizabeth Edwards has emerged as a pit bull for his husband's presidential campaign. A few weeks ago she told crowds that her husband was better on women's issues than Hillary Clinton.

And she's keeping it going... criticizing Hillary Clinton for refusing to "apologize" for her vote for use of force against Iraq (which contrasts nicely with her husband's apology). She's also called Obama's stance on the war into question. As a state legislator, Obama gave a speech against the prospective war, but Edward's questioned his motivation: "Obama gives a speech that is going to be extraordinarily popular in his district, and then comes to the Senate and votes for funding... so you are going to get people behaving in a holier than thou way."

She's also gone after the front-runners on health care, taking aim at Hillary for saying "we need to develop a political will" to tackle the problem. Ms. Edwards referenced her cancer, and those with whom she's spoken, battling the disease without health care, saying, "We don't need to develop [a political will]."

Obama's health care plan hasn't been spared her wrath, either; it's been criticized as a day late and a dollar short (or, more accurately, 6 months late, and 15 million people short).

Okay, here's the SAM bottom line question: why is Edwards taking them on?

Well, the answer isn't too tough to come by. Her husband's campaign is hurting. He still leads in Iowa, and has staked his future on winning there, but his fundraising numbers and national polling has lagged big time, and he's in danger of becoming obsolete.

Edwards can't go negative himself, primary voters hate when candidates attack each other (remember Ronald Reagan's 11th Commandment: Thou shalt not attack thine fellow Republican). However, voters also dislike when potential first ladies play too large a role in their spouses campaign (think Teressa Heinz- Kerry or Hillary Clinton), and when they get too "mouthy" (for lack of a better term).

But someone from Team Edwards needs to take on the front runners, someone that commands press and voter attention and, more importantly, respect. Ms. Edwards has battled her cancer courageously, so much so that she's untouchable. It's an accomplishment that the woman is still active and passionate. She's become immune from criticism herself, and the campaign knows it.

Who knows if it will be enough, but don't expect the Edwards pit bull to go back in its cage any time soon.

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