From Behind, Edwards Runs At Full Speed In Iowa

By Libby Copeland
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, October 27, 2007

DES MOINES -- Concerning the 2008 election, a few technical points to keep in mind: Voters haven't actually voted yet, and Hillary Clinton hasn't actually won the Democratic nomination.

These plain facts are terribly important to the supporters of John Edwards here, and especially to superfans like Leslie Pomerantz, 64, who has a custom-made Edwards license-plate cover and recently spent several minutes trying to talk a drive-through fast-food clerk into supporting her man.

Oh! It can be so frustrating to Pomerantz, the way everyone seems to think Clinton's got it in the bag. Clinton this, Clinton that. Clinton, Clinton, Clinton, Barack Obama, Clinton. All those national polls showing Clinton trouncing the field. All those front-page stories on Clinton, with Edwards buried on Page 3. All that Clinton money, which people think is such a big deal.

"It impresses a lot of people," Pomerantz says. They say, " 'Oh, well, she's got it made.' " She is seated in Edwards's Iowa headquarters, in a desolate business park, coloring in an Edwards sign and wearing a campaign button that depicts her candidate flying through the air in a Superman costume. (That former football star, even more handsome with a cape!)

Pomerantz is trying to stop the Clinton juggernaut by converting the great state of Iowa, one voter at a time. She tells people what Edwards is like up close -- genuine and passionate, reminiscent of John F. Kennedy. "Such a mensch," she says. One time, she took her older sister to see Edwards speak. Another time, she took her handyman.

Two converts. Just a few more to go.

* * *

There's another Democrat up there in the running for president, by the way. His name is Barack Obama.

Edwards's Iowa supporters don't talk about the senator from neighboring Illinois quite as much as they talk about the senator from New York, even though Obama runs second behind Clinton in national polls, with Edwards a distant third.

Neither does Edwards.

During informal community meetings across southwestern Iowa in recent days, the jeans-clad former North Carolina senator says little about Obama but mentions Clinton several times by name. He criticizes her for taking money from lobbyists and for voting last month in favor of labeling the Iranian Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization, which he and other Democrats believe gives President Bush free rein to attack Iran. Mentioning a news report indicating that Clinton has shifted from primary mode to general election mode, Edwards pulls out one of his favorite new lines.

"Did I miss somethin'?" he teases his audience. "Did we already have the Iowa caucus and I wasn't there?"

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