Bill Richardson's endorsement of Barack Obama last week raises the question of why the leader of the also-rans is being coy about making a choice
"John Edwards," Politico reports, "is unlikely to endorse either Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton before the nomination is decided, according to interviews with several members of the former candidate's inner circle."
Why not? At this stage, the Democrats need all the clarity they can get. Despite his long-standing ties to the Clintons, Richardson made his announcement last week--a hard choice, but he made it.
Edwards has been courted with visits from Obama and Clinton, and he knows how helpful his endorsement might be, particularly in the upcoming North Carolina primary.
Why would he hold back? None of the possible reasons do him credit or even make much sense. Surely he knows enough about the two candidates to make a choice, and holding out will not encourage them at this point to take up his war on poverty any more than they already have.
Is he angling to be a kingmaker at the convention? Not likely, all but a handful of his pledged delegates are gone, and none would take direction from him in any case. Does he want to be sure to back the winner and end up in the cabinet, perhaps as Attorney General? Bad strategy. They don't give medals for showing up after the battle. Or is he just planning to become the 21st century Harold Stassen, a perennial Presidential candidate?
Jonathan Prince, Edwards’ former deputy campaign manager, thinks his man has clout, asserting "that before Ohio and Texas, the campaigns told me that the most popular Democrat in Ohio was John Edwards. And he was tied for the most popular Democrat in Texas. I would imagine that what was true in Ohio is true in Pennsylvania, too.
“One candidate is trying to show he’s got it wrapped up. I think John Edwards would help to do that. The other candidate is trying to show that things are breaking her way. I think John Edwards would help to do that also.”
Most of all, by choosing now he would set an example for his party to encourage settling their squabbles sooner rather than later to unite against the possibility of another Republican in the White House. John Edwards has dedicated himself to bringing together the two Americas. Is it too much to ask him to do something for the two Democratic parties?