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Edwards: Coming to a precinct near you

With pundits focusing on Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton, John Edwards is being largely overlooked. Maybe that's just where he wants to be 17 days before the Iowa caucus.
/ Source: National Journal

With pundits focusing on the back-and-forth between front-runners and , former North Carolina Sen. is being largely overlooked by the mainstream media covering the Democratic presidential race. Maybe that's just where Edwards wants to be 17 days before the first-in-the-nation Iowa caucus.

The former vice presidential candidate, who graces the cover of the latest Newsweek under the title, "The Sleeper," achieved a surprising second-place showing in Iowa in 2004, due in part to his ability to stay above the fray as front-runners Howard Dean and Dick Gephardt pummeled each other. Now, with Clinton and Obama at each other's throats, insiders like David Yepsen of the Des Moines Register have noted an uptick in Edwards' numbers in the Hawkeye State and predict that Edwards could muster a strong finish there, propelling him in subsequent contests in New Hampshire and South Carolina.

The campaign has launched a flurry of ads in Iowa during the past week in an attempt to attract undecided caucus-goers before voters break for the holidays. Two new TV spots, "Voice" and "Fight," echo a familiar theme from the campaign's previous ads: Edwards will fight against the corporate greed and powerful lobbies that are rampant in Washington. "The moral test of our generation is whether we're going to allow this broken system to go on without a fight, or take on corporate greed and stand up for the middle class and American jobs before it's too late," Edwards argues in "Fight."

The candidate deviated from his characteristic tone of optimism in November, when he sharply attacked Clinton on the stump and in several debates. However, as the Newsweek story notes, "just as suddenly, he went back to being the happy optimist and has purged all references to Clinton," instead focusing on how he can help Americans.

A new video posted on his Web site presents the lighter side of the former senator's campaign, while still pushing a crucial message. Framed as a mock movie preview, which casts the Edwards family as the protagonists and the Jan. 3 caucus as the main event, the ad proclaims, "In a world where corn grows tall, and hope grows taller, where people have a special power to decide the fate of a nation, in our most desperate hour, one man can clean up George Bush's mess, and restore the promise of America."

The video "is a new organizational tool to drive undecided caucus goers and supporters to the campaign's Caucus Command Center," the campaign explained in a press release. While "Trailer" is lighthearted, it also conveys what could be the most important message at this stage of the campaign: show up on Jan. 3, 2008.