Friday, February 29, 2008

Edwards Can Put Obama Over the Top

John W. Mashek
U.S. New & World Report, February 29, 2008

Former Sen. John Edwards can end any real suspense over next Tuesday's Democratic primaries in Ohio and Texas by backing Barack Obama.

In the wake of 11 straight losses in primaries and caucuses by Hillary Clinton and defections by some key superdelegates, Edwards could settle the outcome.

The former presidential candidate and vice presidential nominee in 2004, Edwards has won only 50 delegates or so. He probably can't deliver all of them. But his endorsement of Obama would weigh on labor voters in union-heavy Ohio.

Clinton needs more than a simple victory next Tuesday. She needs decisive wins, and the latest polls, especially in Texas, are not encouraging.

When he was a candidate, the populist Edwards went after Clinton in several debates. His main point was that change was needed in Washington and Clinton represented the past.
Obama is decidedly the new player this year, and his constant theme has been the need for change. It is a compelling reason for Edwards to make his choice.

In backing Obama, Edwards would be following the lead of Sen. Christopher Dodd of Connecticut, another candidate who spoke well but managed little support. Dodd announced his support of Obama earlier this week.

And it would help, too, if Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware would step in and back Obama. Biden showed a lot of common sense in the earlier debates and shied away from any angry words at Clinton. In my book, he would be an excellent secretary of state in an Obama administration.
The hour grows late for Clinton. No one doubts her smarts and grasp of the issues—especially healthcare, where she is stronger than Obama. However, the verdict is almost in on the race. And John Edwards could very likely decide it so Democrats can move on. Unity will be needed to defeat John McCain, who has the legacy of George W. Bush to defend in the fall. Some legacy.

John W. Mashek covered politics in Washington for four decades with U.S. News & World Report, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and the Boston Globe. His primary beats were Congress, the White House, and national politics. He covered every presidential election from 1960 to 1996. He was a panelist in three televised presidential debates in 1984, 1988, and 1992. In retirement, he is teaching part time at the Medill School's graduate program in Washington.

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