Appearing on CBS News' Face The Nation, Edwards told Bob Schieffer that in the wake of Sen. John McCain's victories in New Hampshire and now South Carolina, which solidify his position going into later primaries, Democrats could see him as their eventual opponent.
"What we need to think about as a party is, who are we going to put up against who now looks like it may be John McCain on the other side?" he said. "This is a guy who's a great advocate for campaign-finance reform. So are we going to put a candidate against him who's taken lots of money from lobbyists and PACs?
"And he's also a very strong candidate with a long record, including an extraordinary record of military service. We have to put up somebody who's strong against him, and somebody who represents change in a meaningful way."
Edwards congratulated Sen. Clinton on her Nevada win, noting that he got his "butt kicked" in the race. But he did not let a third-place showing deter him.
"What you learn from that is … you've just got to get up and start fighting, and particularly when you're fighting for the cause of your life, which is making sure that people who don't have a voice get a voice, and fighting for the middle class and low-income families. That's what my life is about."
Edwards said he was in the race regardless of what happens in South Carolina at next week's Democratic primary. "Absolutely. I have said over and over I am committed to this. My cause is not going away, and I'm in it for the long haul."
Also appearing on the broadcast: Howard Wolfson, communications director for the Clinton campaign, and David Axelrod, Barack Obama's political director, who discussed the results of the Nevada caucuses; and Politico.com's Roger Simon.