Thursday, December 20, 2007

"Clinton Advisers Point to Edwards Threat"

INDEPENDENCE, Iowa -- Clinton advisers have been pushing the notion that former senator John Edwards poses a growing threat in the Iowa caucuses, suggesting their internal data show something of a mini-surge for the North Carolinian. Obama advisers have countered that it makes for a convenient storyline -- and is evidence the Clinton campaign is threatened by a two-way race with Sen. Barack Obama.
Today, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton took Edwards on over his signature issue, indicating she may view the Edwards improvements as quite real. "People talk about poverty in this campaign," Clinton said during a crowded event here. "Well, we lifted more people out of poverty during the 1990s than at any time in our history."

Clinton went on to dismiss the notion that her candidacy is backward-looking in a bad way. "Some people say, 'There she goes talking about the '90s again,'" she said, drawing laughter from the crowd. "Well, it wasn't so bad. We had policies that actually helped to create 22.7 million new jobs. The typical Iowan family saw an increase of $7,000 in their incomes during the '90s."

At campaign stop later in the day in Portsmouth, N.H., Edwards responded to Clinton's comments. "There are 37 million people living in poverty in America. Alleviating poverty is the cause of my life," he said. "What I would ask Hillary Clinton and the other candidates to do is to join me for calling for an increase in the minimum wage to $9.50 an hour, and to put forth a comprehensive plan to eliminate poverty, which I have done."

Clinton is continuing a five-day blitz across Iowa, where a new Washington Post-ABC News poll shows her in a statistical tie with Obama, with Edwards trailing close behind. The poll indicates that there is hope for each candidate to land a first-place victory -- but that it will turn largely on the ground game, depending on which candidate can mobilize voters, many of them new. Edwards, though behind nationally and in some Iowa polls, has a steady corps of supporters who have been through the process before and are thus expected to be more reliable about showing up on Jan. 3. Edwards and Clinton are also dueling over rural voters.

But that is not to say that Clinton no longer views Obama as a formidable challenge. Perhaps the greatest sign that she does is in the form of a literal sign -- the one hanging behind her at events, that says she is "Working for Change, Working for You." And like a holistic healer, she has also injected a promise of Obama-style hope into her stump speeches over the last few days, promising on many fronts a "new beginning."

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