The Old John Edwards
Watching the Dartmouth College debate last week also reminded me that I have been pretty tough on John Edwards thus far in this election cycle. Back in 2004, I argued that a few more weeks between the Iowa caucus and New Hampshire primary might have been sufficient for Edwards to catch John Kerry and Howard Dean.  Such was the buzz surrounding his candidacy at that moment. This time around, however, Edwards’ retooled populism has been an uneasy fit for New Hampshire’s political culture, and its economic climate. His poll numbers have in large measure reflected this unease.
That being said, I am not alone in noting that his performance in the debate was his best in this election cycle, recapturing some of the energy, directness, and folksiness that served him well in 2004. Whether he can capitalize on this performance remains to be seen. Edwards is in a tough must-win battle in Iowa, and his poll numbers will also need to spike dramatically upwards in New Hampshire.  But for at least those two hours at Dartmouth, he was the old John Edwards.
You can listen to an extended recap of my thoughts on the Dartmouth debate here, by clicking on the link for the September 29th edition of WKXL's On The Campaign Trail, with Chris Ryan.

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