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John Edwards presidential campaign, 2004

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Title: John Edwards presidential campaign, 2004  
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Subject: United States presidential election, 2004, John Edwards, The Politician (book), Two Americas, John Buchanan (American politician)
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John Edwards presidential campaign, 2004

John Edwards for President 2004
Campaign U.S. presidential election, 2004
Candidate Johnny Reid Edwards
U.S. Senator from North Carolina 1999–2005
Affiliation Democratic Party
Status Announced Sept. 14, 2003
Withdrew March 2, 2004
Headquarters Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Slogan Let's make one America
John Edwards 2004
(archived - Feb. 27, 2004)

Background & announcement

In 2000, Edwards unofficially began his presidential campaign when he began to seek speaking engagements in Iowa, the site of the nation's first party caucuses. On January 2, 2003, Edwards began fundraising without officially campaigning by forming an exploratory committee. On September 15, 2003, Edwards fulfilled a promise he made a year earlier as a guest on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart to unofficially announce his intention to seek the 2004 Democratic presidential nomination. The next morning, Edwards made the announcement officially from his hometown. He declined to run for reelection to the Senate in order to focus on his presidential run. Edwards' campaign was chaired by North Carolina Democratic activist Ed Turlington.

Campaign timeline

Early campaign

As Edwards had been building support essentially since his election to the Senate, he led the initial campaign fundraising, amassing over $7 million during the first quarter of 2003 – more than half of which came from individuals associated with the legal profession, particularly Edwards' fellow trial lawyers, their families, and employees.[1]

Edwards' "stump speech" spoke of two Americas, with one composed of the wealthy and privileged, and the other of the hard-working common man,[2] causing the media to often characterize Edwards as a populist.[3][4]

First nominating contests

Edwards struggled to gain substantial support, but his poll numbers began to rise steadily weeks before the Iowa caucuses. Edwards had a surprising second-place finish with the support of 32% of delegates, behind only John Kerry's 39% and ahead of former front-runner Howard Dean at 18%. One week later in the New Hampshire primary, Edwards finished in fourth place behind Kerry, Dean and Wesley Clark, with 12%. During the February 3 primaries, Edwards won the South Carolina primary,[5] lost to Clark in Oklahoma, and lost to Kerry in the other states. Edwards garnered the second largest number of second-place finishes, again falling behind Clark.[6]

Dean withdrew from the contest, leaving Edwards the only major challenger to Kerry. In the Wisconsin primary on February 17, Edwards finished second to Kerry with 34% of the vote.

Super Tuesday 2004

Edwards largely avoided attacking Kerry until a February 29, 2004 debate in New York, where he characterized him as a "Washington insider" and mocked Kerry's plan to form a committee to examine trade agreements.

In the Raleigh, North Carolina press conference on March 3. Edwards' withdrawal made major media outlets relatively early on the evening of Super Tuesday, at about 6:30 p.m. CST, before polls had closed in California and before caucuses in Minnesota had even begun. It is thought that the withdrawal influenced many people in Minnesota to vote for other candidates, which may partially account for the strong Minnesota finish of Dennis Kucinich. Edwards did win the presidential straw poll conducted by the Independence Party of Minnesota.


Key results[7]

Nominating Contest Place Percentage
Iowa 2nd Place 32%
New Hampshire 4th Place 12%
Arizona 4th Place 7%
Delaware 3rd Place 11%
Missouri 2nd Place 25%
New Mexico 4th Place 11%
North Dakota 4th Place 10%
Oklahoma 2nd Place 30%
South Carolina WIN 45%
Michigan 3rd Place 13%
Washington 4th Place 7%
Tennessee 2nd Place 27%
Virginia 2nd Place 27%
Nevada 3rd Place 11%
Wisconsin 2nd Place 34%
Hawaii 3rd Place 13%
Utah 2nd Place 30%
California 2nd Place 20%
Connecticut 2nd Place 24%
Georgia 2nd Place 41%
Maryland 2nd Place 26%
Massachusetts 2nd Place 18%
Minnesota 2nd Place 27%
New York 2nd Place 20%
Ohio 2nd Place 34%
Rhode Island 2nd Place 19%
Vermont 3rd Place 6%
North Carolina WIN 51%
  • ^1 The table is meant to show all the contests Edwards competed in and won, not a complete list of primary states. That is to say everything on Super Tuesday and Before as well as North Carolina should be included in the table.
     Edwards won the nominating Contest (North Carolina and South Carolina)
    Edwards came in either 2nd or 3rd place in the nominating contest (Iowa, Delaware, Missouri, Oklahoma, Michigan, Tennessee, Virginia, Nevada, Wisconsin, Hawaii, Utah, California, Connecticut, Georgia, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Rhode Island, Vermont)
     Edwards came in 4th Place or Below in the nominating contest (New Hampshire, Arizona, New Mexico, North Dakota, Washington)

After withdrawal

Surprise North Carolina win

After withdrawing from the race, he went on to win the April 17 Democratic caucuses in his home state of North Carolina,[8] making him the only Democratic candidate besides Kerry to win nominating contests in two states.

Eventual Vice-Presidential nomination

On July 6, 2004 Kerry announced that Edwards would be his running mate; the decision was widely hailed in public opinion polls and by Democratic leaders. Though many Democrats supported Edwards' nomination, others criticized the selection for Edwards' perceived lack of experience. The nomination caused the tort reform.[9] In the vice presidential debate, Dick Cheney incorrectly told Edwards they never met due to Edwards' frequent absences from the Senate. The media later found at least one videotape of Cheney and Edwards meeting.

Kerry's campaign advisor Bob Shrum later reported in Time magazine that Kerry said he wished he'd never picked Edwards, and the two have since stopped speaking to each other.[10] Edwards said in his concession speech, "You can be disappointed, but you cannot walk away. This fight has just begun."


  1. ^ Hill News, May 7, 2003
  2. ^ Edwards#Two Americas
  3. ^ The Washington Post, July 6, 2004
  4. ^ BBC News
  5. ^ 2004 South Carolina primary results
  6. ^ CNN
  7. ^
  8. ^ 2004 North Carolina caucuses results
  9. ^ | PointOfLaw Forum: Democrats' support for trial lawyers polarizes business community
  10. ^
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