A lot is being said right now to the effect of, "What took him so long?" Some people are criticizing John Edwards for not endorsing sooner. I happen to think that today is the perfect day for Edwards to endorse, not so much because he was trounced in West Virginia yesterday, but because of the current state of the race and because of past statements made by John Edwards and his top advisers.
John Edwards said that he would not make an endorsement until the race was over -- until the nominee was determined. Then, today, after Obama received a trouncing in West Virginia, he announces his endorsement.
Some have questioned this, asking why he is going back on his word and endorsing before the race is over. I don't think he is going back on his word at all. He is sending a message, and that message is, "The race is over."
John Edwards is saying, let's circle the wagons. Obama is our guy. The people have spoken. The race for Democratic presidential nominee is over.
Yesterday, I wrote a Daily Kos diary about an article that Joe Trippi wrote in Campaigns and Elections Magazine. He expressed regret that he had advised Edwards to follow his heart when asked for advice of whether to withdraw from the presidential race. He said he wished he had told him to stay in the race. But, he added (and this is important):
"The senator questioned why he'd be remaining in the race. Would he be grinding out delegates only to be in a position to cut a deal at the convention for his own gain? That wasn't why he had gotten into the race for president. He had entered it to push causes like ending poverty, championing health care for every American and fighting for working people, and it just wasn't him to turn it into a selfish quest. I really respect that, and it helps explain why I so fervently wanted John Edwards to become president. The man cared deeply about those causes, and he did not want to see them tarnished because of a string of embarrassing losses."
Trippi would not have written such an article without running it by Edwards first. They are reportedly close friends, and insiders say that Trippi is extremely loyal to Edwards. This seems to be a concerted message, "When it is clear you cannot win, staying in the race is for personal gain."
Trippi's admission that he wishes he had advised Edwards to stay in the race could be taken as a nod to Hillary Clinton that it's ok to stay in the race, but I don't think so. I think it was simply meant to soften the blow of these specific words:
"Would he be grinding out delegates only to be in a position to cut a deal at the convention for his own gain?"
Of course, Trippi will be on the media circuit over the next few days, answering questions about Edwards, and I'm sure this will come up. We'll see how it plays out, but I'm betting that he'll be asked about these words. I'm betting that he'll say over and over that Edwards exited the race for the good of the country -- this will be a hint to Clinton.
Of course, this also takes the wind out of Clinton's sails from her win yesterday.
Yes, the timing is perfect.
Dawn Teo posts at Daily Kos. She's a supporter of Barack Obama.