Edwards in New Hampshire

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As John Edwards ends his Iowa campaign in a virtual tie with Obama and Clinton he is also showing some gains in New Hampshire. In an American Research Group poll conducted between December 27-29, Edwards inched up from 15 to 21 percent in mid December. Meanwhile, Clinton fell from 38 to 31 percent, and Obama rose from 24 to 27 percent.

The question remains whether Edwards, who has long concentrated on Iowa, can break through the entrenched Obama and Clinton operations here on election day.

That may depend on the reception here to his intensifying anti-corporate populist style campaign. In New Hampshire the overriding general issues always have been focused around taxes and fiscal responsibility. Government, especially Washington beltway politics, is viewed here with suspicion and in recent years has lost credibility. As in other parts of the nation, there is an anti-immigrant tide. These concerns could work against Edwards’s message, with its emphasis on income redistribution and government involvement in daily life — which may mean new spending. And his health care plans call for more spending, not less. His promise to end disparity between poor and rich with implicit redistribution of income goes against New Hampshire’s love of the free market. He has shied clear of immigration.

In addition, people remain unclear about whether to believe Edwards. Last week he dropped into Nashua, the populous area in the southern part of the state, for a door to door campaign, knocking on doors, dispensing coffee and doughnuts. He got a warm reception. Reporters asked him about lobbyists, and Edwards promised they would never get into his White House. “When I am President of the United States, no corporate lobbyist … will work in my White House,” he said in a recent speech. He says he won’t take money from them. But recently a private donation of $495,000 was made to the Alliance for a New America, a 527 — a political advocacy group that raises money and campaigns independently of the candidate — that supports Edwards. Edwards says he has “absolutely no control” over this contribution.

As for the influence of lobbyists, Edwards’s supporters include Scott Tyre, who serves on candidate’s national finance committee. Tyre is the president of the Association of Wisconsin Lobbyists and owner of Capital Navigators, a lobby firm. He has personally donated $6,600 to the campaign. Whether these sorts of contradictions will harm his campaign remains to be seen.

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