edwards, clinton and obama

Posted on February 11, 2008


Tongues are wagging about the practically back-to-back meetings former Democratic presidential hopeful John Edwards had, or will have, with both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

Clinton visited Edwards on Thursday in North Carolina. Obama will see him there tomorrow.

No doubt both are lobbying him for his endorsement, as the deadlocked race gets increasingly urgent and each side is looking to gain a decisive edge over the other, or any momentum that could help them.

But do they never learn?

Endorsements are not what they are trumped up to be, other than just another bragging right.

Obama had the might of the Kennedy dynasty behind him, with Teddy, Caroline and Maria Shriver stumping for him in the run-up to Super Tuesday. Clinton still humbled them, handily defeating Obama in Kennedy-stronghold Massachusetts and California, where Shriver is a resident and wife of the sitting governor.

In contrast, Edwards would not have been the recipient of these visits had he proven himself more effective at winning over voters. His best showing was in Iowa, where he finished second behind Obama despite investing much money and time campaigning there. Edwards was not even able to win in the state where he was born, South Carolina, coming in a distant third to Obama and Clinton. Whatever Edwards could bring to either Clinton’s or Obama’s campaigns would likely be negligible.

Even after factoring in delegate count, Edwards probably has only between 12 or 26 delegates, depending on which news organization one turns to and how each particular news outfit allocates delegates. That is hardly impressive, although one could argue that when it comes down to the wire, as the race between Clinton and Obama looks to be, every single delegate would matter.

While Edwards is said to be agonizing over whom to support, he had been identifying more with Obama when he was still in the race, condemning Clinton for being the candidate of the status quo. But towards the end of his campaign, Edwards seemed to have reversed his hostility towards Clinton, going as far as to side with her during the South Carolina televised debates against Obama.

At the end of the day, this election has proven that voters make up their own minds and endorsements do not count for much, if at all.

Both Clinton and Obama could do better by spending their time campaigning harder and reaching out to voters, rather than wasting it on seeking endorsements.