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According to reports, White House hopeful John Edwards is to announce today that he is dropping out of the race. The big question is, “Who will he support?” And who will get his delegates?
Here is the latest AP report…
DENVER – Democrat John Edwards is exiting the presidential race Wednesday, ending a scrappy underdog bid in which he steered his rivals toward progressive ideals while grappling with family hardship that roused voters’ sympathies, The Associated Press has learned.
The two-time White House candidate notified a close circle of senior advisers that he planned to make the announcement at a 1 p.m. EST event in New Orleans that had been billed as a speech on poverty, according to two aides. The decision came after Edwards lost the four states to hold nominating contests so far to rivals who stole the spotlight from the beginning — Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama.
The former North Carolina senator will not immediately endorse either candidate in what is now a two-person race for the Democratic nomination, said one adviser, who spoke on condition of anonymity in advance of the announcement. Clinton said Edwards called her Wednesday night to inform her about his decision.
Four in 10 Edwards supporters said their second choice in the race is Clinton, while a quarter prefer Obama, according to an Associated Press-Yahoo poll conducted late this month. Both Clinton and Obama would welcome Edwards’ backing and the support of the 56 delegates he had collected.
Edwards waged a spirited top-tier campaign against the two better-funded rivals, even as he dealt with the stunning blow of his wife’s recurring cancer diagnosis. In a dramatic news conference last March, the couple announced that the breast cancer that she thought she had beaten had returned, but they would continue the campaign.
Their decision sparked a debate about family duty and public service. But Elizabeth Edwards remained a forceful advocate for her husband, and she was often surrounded at campaign events by well-wishers and emotional survivors cheering her on.
Edwards planned to announce his campaign was ending with his wife and three children at his side. Then he planned to work with Habitat for Humanity at the volunteer-fueled rebuilding project Musicians’ Village, the adviser said.
With that, Edwards’ campaign will end the way it began 13 months ago — with the candidate pitching in to rebuild lives in a city still ravaged by Hurricane Katrina. Edwards embraced New Orleans as a glaring symbol of what he described as a Washington that didn’t hear the cries of the downtrodden.
Edwards burst out of the starting gate with a flurry of progressive policy ideas — he was the first to offer a plan for universal health care, the first to call on Congress to pull funding for the war, and he led the charge that lobbyists have too much power in Washington and need to be reigned in.
The ideas were all bold and new for Edwards personally as well, making him a different candidate than the moderate Southerner who ran in 2004 while still in his first Senate term. But the themes were eventually adopted by other Democratic presidential candidates — and even a Republican, Mitt Romney, echoed the call for an end to special interest politics in Washington.
Edwards’ rise to prominence in politics came amid just one term representing North Carolina in the Senate after a career as a trial attorney that made him millions. He was on Al Gore’s short list for vice president in 2000 after serving just two years in office. He ran for president in 2004, and after he lost to John Kerry, the nominee picked him as a running mate.
Elizabeth Edwards first discovered a lump in her breast in the final days of that losing campaign. Her battle against the disease caused her husband to open up about another tragedy in their lives — the death of their teenage son Wade in a 1996 car accident. The candidate barely spoke of Wade during his 2004 campaign, but he offered his son’s death to answer questions about how he could persevere when his wife could die.
Edwards made poverty the signature issue of both his presidential campaigns, and he led a four-day tour to highlight the issue in July. The tour was the first to focus on the plight of the poor since Robert F. Kennedy’s trip 40 years earlier.
But even as Obama and Clinton collected astonishing amounts of money that dwarfed his fundraising effort, Edwards maintained a loyal following in the first voting state of Iowa that made him a serious contender. He came in second to Obama in Iowa, an impressive feat of relegating Clinton to third place, before coming in third in the following three contests.
The loss in South Carolina was especially hard because it was where he was born and he had won the state in 2004.
The Obama camp is downplaying their disappointing 33% to Clinton’s 50% showing at yesterday’s Florida Primary.
Florida may have been a phantom stop on the White House road, but Hillary Clinton trumpeted her Sunshine State victory as she vied to regain the limelight from her high-wattage rival Barack Obama.
Although Florida has been stripped of its Democratic delegates, the former first lady told backers at a late-night rally here Tuesday that their votes most definitely counted.
“I am convinced that with this resounding vote, and with the millions of Americans who will vote next Tuesday, we will send a clear message that America is back!” she told a couple of hundred raucous supporters.
After trouncing Clinton in Saturday’s Democratic primary in South Carolina, Obama had stayed on the offensive Monday thanks to the endorsement of the party’s 75-year-old eminence grise, Senator Edward Kennedy.
Pundits saw a symbolic handing of the torch to the young Illinois senator from the last surviving brother of John F. and Robert Kennedy, the revered knights of America’s “Camelot” who were gunned down in the tumultuous 1960s.
But for aides to Clinton, who is cast by Obama and Kennedy as the champion of a discredited old guard, symbols matter less than votes — and so the primary in Florida was a stunning assertion of enthusiasm by Democrats.
Barring a change of heart by the Democratic National Committee (DNC), Florida Democrats will be barred from the party’s August nominating convention because state leaders held their primary early, in defiance of DNC rules.
But Team Clinton argued that a record 2.5 million Democrats still turned out to hand the New York senator a thumping victory over Obama, 50-33 percent.
Clinton upheld a pledge by the candidates not to campaign in Florida. But she was adamant that the state — along with Michigan, which has been similarly punished — should be represented at the convention in Denver.
“I promise you I will do everything I can that not only Florida’s Democrats get seated but that Florida is in the winning column for the Democrats in November 2008,” she said, alongside Florida Senator Bill Nelson.
Analysts have warned that Democrats cannot afford to alienate voters in Florida, which was the all-important swing state in the disputed 2000 election that was won by George W. Bush after a protracted battle in the courts.
The Obama campaign mocked Clinton’s interest in the Florida beauty pageant, which grew as the race got tighter.
A spokesman for the Illinois senator, Bill Burton, released a “breaking news” item to declare: “Obama and Clinton tie for delegates in Florida — 0 for Obama, 0 for Clinton.”
“When Senator Clinton was campaigning in Iowa and New Hampshire, she said that states like Michigan and Florida that won’t award delegates, ‘don’t count for anything,’” Burton said.
“Now that Senator Clinton has lost badly in South Carolina, she’s trying to assign meaning to a contest that awards zero delegates and where no campaigning has occurred.”
Florida would have been a key prize in the tense struggle for the Democratic nomination heading into “Super Tuesday” on February 5, when 22 states will be up for grabs.
The race is delicately poised after Obama won the lead-off caucuses in Iowa and then South Carolina, while Clinton took New Hampshire and Nevada.
Clinton staffers saw Florida as a prelude to Super Tuesday, when the campaigns will have to rely on expensive media advertising to reach voters in sprawling, delegate-rich states such as California and New York.
“This is a hunt for delegates,” Clinton’s chief strategist Mark Penn said. “We feel we are extremely well positioned with a diverse and broad group of supporters.”
That hunt for delegates will take Clinton and Obama in the coming days on a gruelling coast-to-coast trail that will pass through Los Angeles on Thursday, for their last televised debate before Super Tuesday.
California is the biggest prize of all on February 5 and polls there give Clinton a comfortable lead over Obama, helped by staunch support from the Hispanic community — which backed her by a two-to-one margin in Florida.