Pure Horserace: Build Up Or Tear Down?

John Edwards and John McCain may come from different parties, but they both have something in common right now: Their presidential campaigns have entered choppy waters. Edwards isn't losing much of the support he has, but has been unable to gain any traction against Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, who have dominated the Democratic money race. McCain, once the Republican front-runner, has seen his poll numbers and financial pull dwindle with each passing week.

Both men are now at a crossroads, trying to maintain their first-tier status even as questions grow about the long-term viability of their campaigns. Both campaigns are making changes to hopefully set themselves on the right course. But that is where the similarities end.

McCain has decided the best way to fix his ailing campaign is to streamline it — a nice way of saying laying off staffers and reducing the salaries of those being kept on. According to the Des Moines Register, McCain has seriously scaled back his effort in Iowa, leaving only seven full-time staff members in the state. Despite McCain's frequent visits and promises to the contrary, it looks like Iowa is steadily falling off his radar. With only $2 million on hand at the end of June, such decisions were probably inevitable.

Yet Edwards, who raised just over $9 million for the primaries in the second quarter — $12 million less than Hillary Clinton and $22 million less than Barack Obama — is taking a totally different approach than McCain: He's adding staff.

Yes, it's only two staff members, but the additions show that Edwards' campaign may believe its problem lies in tactics and message, not in spending strategy. According to The Associated Press, later this week, Paul Blank and Chris Kofinis are expected to join Edwards' staff after helping run WakeUpWalMart, one of the leading groups opposing the retail giant's business practices. That organization has long focused on some of the same issues on which Edwards has based his campaign: improving wages, expanding health care, and moving away from trade policies they say hurt American workers.

Two candidates, two different paths. There's a good chance neither will be able to make up ground on their opponents, but if one of them does, the approach he took could end up as the latest page in the political playbook. — David Miller

Copycat Is Hot For Hillary: Apparently the wave of publicity surrounding Obama Girl and her ode to her favorite presidential candidate didn't sit well with at least one of Hillary Clinton's supporters — Taryn Southern, who has managed to remain a minor celebrity after appearing on "American Idol" in 2004, has crafted her own sexually-charged ode to her favorite candidate, titled Hott4Hill.

The video and song — written, produced and performed by Southern — is perhaps even more risqué than Obama Girl's "I've Got a Crush on Obama." The song says Clinton's "got style and class and a political past" and that "Obama is nice but you've got something he lacks," which is when Southern reveals "Ovaries" written on a classroom white-erase board. Southern also sings, "I know you're not gay, but I'm hoping for bi…lingual!"

It might be in everyone's best interest, especially the candidates', if this fad stops here and now. Unfortunately, given the Internet's viral nature, we could end up seeing a lot more similar, um, tributes before the year is done — especially if Republicans decide to get in on the act; "Randy for Rudy" could be in your in-box by next week. — David Miller

In The Clearing Stands A Boxer: OK, so the Paul Simon song references are going to get a little old, but it's an unavoidable temptation so long as the performer is out on the campaign trial on behalf of old friend Chris Dodd. In the wake of the Clinton-Obama tours earlier this week, the two are stumping throughout Iowa on a "River to River" tour, spreading Dodd's message and Simon's music.

Simon will join Dodd at five stops today and tomorrow, lending a little star power to the underdog's campaign. Simon, who has been friends with Dodd for 25 years, kicked off his participation by criticizing a process that is focused too much on money and not enough on issues. "The (political) process is not really eliciting the best thinking because it's focused on how much money is raised and it's difficult to come around the media and speak to people," Simon told The Associated Press.

You can watch the events live at Dodd's Web site. He's not a former president, but Simon's presence may draw some curious Democrats to listen to Dodd over the next couple of days — and for a candidate seeking to break through the Clinton-Obama-Edwards noise, that's all he can ask for. — Vaughn Ververs

Looking Into The Crystal Ball: The University of Virginia's Larry Sabato has made himself one of the most quoted political scientists around through use of solid analysis, good quotes and tantalizing predictions about the political future. Today, he's in the spotlight again as the subject of CBS News' Brian Goldsmith's latest Political Players interview. The focus is on money: Does it matter that Barack Obama has so much, or that John McCain has so little? Do all of these fundraising numbers mean anything this early in the race? To find out, read this week's Political Players.

Editor's Note: Pure Horserace is a daily update of political news as interpreted by the political observers at CBSNews.com. Click here to sign up for the e-mail version.

By David Miller and Vaughn Ververs