Edwards: "Thank You For Second Place"

(CBS)
From CBS News' Aaron Lewis:

DES MOINES, IOWA -- What does a campaign do when it doesn't win the caucus?

Claim a victory, of course.

Here's how the Edwards campaign is trying to spin tonight's second-place finish in the Iowa caucuses:

"The one thing that's clear from the results in Iowa tonight is the status quo lost and change won," declared Edwards at the top of his "concession" speech at the Renaissance Savery Hotel in Des Moines.

A key for the Edwards campaign was to declare a second place finish as early as possible - even when that result was still somewhat in doubt – and make it seem like that's what they were hoping for all along, so they could push their "victory for change" theme.

"It looks like we're going to take second tonight," campaign manager David Bonior told supporters who had gathered for the post-caucus party at 9:10pm CT, before introducing the former senator and Elizabeth Edwards.

Mrs. Edwards proudly introduced her husband as "the next President of the United States and second place winner out of Iowa."

And in a bit of an awkward moment, Edwards himself had to double-back eight seconds after his remarks seemingly concluded to tell his supporters, "Thank you for second place!"

The next step is to try to frame it as a two-man race between them and Senator Obama – and to freeze out Hillary Clinton.

Not long after news organizations began calling the race for Obama, Edwards's senior advisor Joe Trippi set off in a near-sprint through the hallway and to the back of the ballroom where rows of cameras and correspondents were lined up.

"This is a repudiation of the staus quo," said Trippi to anyone who would listen. But more specifically, he said, "This is a repudiation of Clinton."

The challenges ahead for Edwards are clear: he goes to New Hampshire where he runs a clear third in the polls and in money on hand.

To the latter point, the campaign doesn't see any money issues coming into play.

"The money's just silly," said deputy campaign manager Jonathan Prince. "Everyone's (media) buys are placed. Our television is as competitive as theirs. We've got very extensive advertising going on every day… So money's not really an issue between now and Tuesday."

As for the polls, Prince said the campaign has already moved up significantly in recent weeks and they're going to try harness any momentum that comes from taking a second-place victory in Iowa.

But the morning headlines will tell of Obama's convincing victory. And that is one fact that simply cannot be spun.
  • Aaron Lewis

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