by Rick Pearson
John Edwards' campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination kicked off its major TV effort in Iowa today with a 60-second ad that says the Democratic Party should “show a little backbone” and “have a little guts” in asserting a populist agenda.
The former North Carolina senator and 2004 vice presidential nominee also mentions his wife, Elizabeth, and her fight against cancer and says they made the decision to devote their lives speaking “for all those that have no voice.”
Edwards, along with Sens. Hillary Clinton of New York and Barack Obama of Illinois, are considered in the top tier of Democrats in Iowa’s Jan. 3 leadoff caucuses, although various polls have raised the question of whether his strength in the state is diminishing.
Edwards has been counting on a strong showing in Iowa based on his longtime campaigning in Iowa—including visits to all 99 counties in the state--and a significant field organization. But his campaign has been among the most critical of Clinton after a 2004 presidential bid in which he emphasized a positive message.
Edwards’ campaign said the ad, coinciding with what its calls a theme of “American Heroes Week,” will be the first of several as the North Carolina senator intends to stay on Iowa airwaves through the first-in-the-nation caucuses. The one-minute duration of the ad is somewhat surprising given its potential costs to air, even in a state without a vastly expensive media market.
In the ad, Edwards said he and his wife shouldn’t be considered heroes. Instead, he said, the heroes are the American people.
“Elizabeth and I decided, in the quiet of a hospital room, after 12 hours of tests and after getting very bad news, what we were going to spend our lives doing, for all those that have no voice. We’re not going to quietly go away. Instead we’re going to go out and fight for what it is we believe in,” Edwards says in the ad.
“It is time for our party, the Democratic Party, to show a little backbone, to have a little guts. To stand up for working men and women. If we are not their voice they will never have a voice,” he says in the ad.