WASHINGTON — After placing second in last week's Iowa caucuses, Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards took his populist message to New Hampshire, where he hopes to beat out longtime front-runners Hillary Rodham Clintonand Barack Obama.
On Saturday, the former North Carolina senator kicked off a 36-hour "Marathon for the Middle Class" tour across the Granite State and launched a new TV ad, "Underdog," recasting himself as the little guy fighting on behalf of working Americans. Enlisting surrogates such as James Lowe and Sandy Lakey to campaign with him over the weekend, the two-time presidential candidate sought to pack an emotional punch into his final push ahead of Tuesday's New Hampshire primary. Lowe and Lakey are the parents of Nataline Sarkisyan, who died in December "after her health insurance company refused to pay for the liver transplant she needed," according to an Edwards campaign press release.
In the new ad, Edwards aligns himself with working-class Americans while painting his rivals as "corporate Democrats." "I may be an underdog in this campaign, running against two candidates with $200 million between them," he begins, "but the real underdogs are the middle class and the voiceless in this country." In order to improve the lives of middle-class Americans, "we cannot simply replace a bunch of corporate Republicans with a bunch of corporate Democrats," he argues.
In "Underdog," as well as other new TV spots his campaign has aired in New Hampshire in the last week, Edwards describes what he believes is "an epic battle" that will have to be fought against corporations and special interests on behalf of the middle class. "Corporate greed is not just stealing the future of the children of Democrats. It's doing the same thing to the children of independents, the same thing to the children of Republicans," he points out in a second new ad. In a third spot, he attempts to fire up New Hampshire voters, saying: "On January 8, in New Hampshire, what will happen is you will rise. You will say enough is enough, and you're going to create a wave of change that cannot be stopped."Rate candidates' positions
Edwards appeared pugnacious over the past week, labeling Clinton as the defender of the status quo in a debate in Manchester, N.H., on Saturday night and on Sunday dismissing her campaign as having "no conscience." But only one day out from the first-in-the-nation primary, Edwards certainly faces an uphill battle, according to the latest polls.
She didn't need your delegates anyway
Clinton's campaign always knew Iowa would be a gamble. The advertising strategy her advisers pursued in the days before the caucuses showed their uncertainty as they looked ahead to the next battlegrounds and the next ad markets. Even during the immediate run-up to the first-in-the-nation caucuses, while her rivals focused their ad buys almost solely on Iowa, Clinton was debuting new spots in both New Hampshire and South Carolina.
The day before the Iowa contest, Clinton put out a new ad in the Granite State touting her newspaper endorsements there and highlighting her electability and readiness to lead -- qualities her campaign has tried to contrast with Obama. On the same day, she also released a radio spot in South Carolina in which Jacqueline Jackson, wife of Jesse Jackson, explains why Clinton's commitment to families and children won her support.
Clinton has advertised steadily in South Carolina throughout the campaign, attempting to hold on to the support of black female voters who are a key demographic in the Democratic primary. Recently, when both she and Obama released holiday-themed ads in Iowa and New Hampshire, Clinton also bought time on South Carolina radio for a separate spot with husband Bill. A few days later, she released a TV ad there spotlighting her efforts to provide health care for kids, "68,000 in South Carolina."
Now Clinton's top advisers seem worried she could lose that state, along with New Hampshire, to a surging Obama. But for the time being, Camp Clinton has decided to hold back on running attack ads against him -- or any ads at all. Neither Clinton nor Obama has released any new advertising since Obama's win in Iowa (old spots continue to run, however). With the media frenzy that the compressed primary schedule has produced, they may not need to spend the money.
Copyright 2012 by National Journal Group Inc.