Obama to Iowans: If I'm Not Your First Choice, Make Me Your Second

From CBS News' Maria Gavrilovic:

BOONE, IOWA -- In the days leading to the Iowa caucuses, Barack Obama is focusing on undecided voters by stressing his record on special interests and telling voters that he can be their second choice if he isn't their first choice.

Obama began his stump today by making an appeal to voters, "If you're not going to caucus for me, make me your second choice. I know that some of you had made early commitments and now you regret it, you're thinking 'I wish I had held off because I hadn't heard Barack yet.'... I can still be your second choice."

Campaign manager David Plouffe said on a conference call this morning that Obama is the strongest second choice candidate in the race. He said Edwards is strong but that Clinton doesn't bode as well as a second choice. Plouffe also said Obama could benefit from the second choice option.

Obama (and Plouffe) also talked about the issue of special interest money used to "distort" his record. "Even now in the last days as the polls have tightened and we have the energy and we have the momentum we're seeing this last hurdle the same old Washington tricks. Folks are pouring in as the polls tighten. Folks are pouring money in. Undisclosed donors, independent expenditures," Obama said.

"People distorting my record. People sending out e-mails saying you know what he's got a funny name. But you know what we've seen this script before, we've seen this movie before and it will not work."

At a later event in Jefferson, Iowa, a local farmer asked Obama what differentiates him from John Edwards. After acknowledging that Edwards is running a "very good" campaign, Obama provided a laundry list of reasons to vote for him.

"When I was in the Senate I fought and got the power of lobbyists reduced, that's not something that John has invested in, even though he's talking about it now. When I talk about getting troops out of Iraq, I was opposed to the war at the start when it was unpopular to be against the war. John was for it," said Obama.

Later, when asked how he would fight a "dirty" general election if he was the nominee, Obama said, "I intend to whoop 'em so good that it won't even be close and they can't steal the election. We're not going to be close this time."