MOULTONBOROUGH, N.H. (AP) – Presidential hopeful John Edwards said he’s raising enough money to compete in the early states and invoked Howard Dean’s 2004 fundraising totals as a cautionary tale.
“Money will not decide who the nominee’s going to be,” Edwards said in an interview with The Associated Press. “Everyone will remember Governor Dean who outraised everyone else by more than 2-to-1 and wasn’t able to win the nomination.”
Edwards’ campaign reported it raised $9 million from April through June. It’s a shortfall compared to Sens. Barack Obama or Hillary Rodham Clinton – his top rivals who best him both in the polls and fundraising tallies.
“I like very much where I am,” Edwards said, taking a break from his three-day vacation with his wife and two youngest children. “Among the three of us, I’m the underdog. I’m fighting. I like that place. It’s always worked very well for me. That’s the story of my life.”
Edwards said he’s on pace to run the $40 million campaign through the early states.
“We have at least three presidential candidates on the Democratic side who have plenty money to run a serious campaign in the early states, where the nomination will be decided,” Edwards said. “We will have plenty of money. We’ll have more money than we had last time, a good bit more.”
“We don’t want to discourage anybody from giving,” Elizabeth Edwards said, interrupting him.
“We’ll have more than John Kerry had last time when he won the nomination,” her husband added.
Edwards was Kerry’s vice presidential pick in that failed campaign. He said his party will pick a nominee smartly.
“Democrats want to win. This is not an intellectual exercise for us. We want to make sure we nominate somebody that can win the general election and win the White House,” John Edwards said.
Elizabeth Edwards said part of that process should be listening to the candidates and not just looking at them.
“You look at the Democratic field and there’s a lot of extremely attractive people. But if you spend time talking about how attractive they are, it almost diminishes what they’re saying,” she said.
“You shouldn’t be talking about that. I’ll complain about it for anybody. I’d much rather have you talk, not about how they look and what they’re wearing or how attractive they are, but what it is they have to say. That’s what’s going to matter, their rationale for being president, what it is they’re going to do. That’s what is going to matter in the long run.”
The Edwardses are vacation in New Hampshire’s Lakes Region, borrowing the cottage of a state senator and supporter. Earlier in the day, the Edwards clan went fishing, visited a firefighters’ competition and a fed trout in a pond. The stops were not campaign events; Edwards wore jeans and a T-shirt, not his typical button-down campaign trail uniform.
“There’s never a complete break, you know. This is about as relaxed as it can be during a presidential campaign,” John Edwards said. “That just goes with the territory. We knew this already. We’ve been through this before.”
His two children, Jack and Emma Claire, ran through the crowds, ate their hamburgers and hot-dogs.
“I think they understand it. They understand what’s at stake,” John Edwards said. “They like traveling. They’re very flexible, They’re very adjustable. They love being around people. They’re not that excited about hearing mom or dad give another speech. That part they can deal without.”
Their parents walked with them through the field where firefighters tested their skills with water challenges and other competitions.
“I’ve got to choose how I’m going to spend my days,” said Elizabeth, who has announced her cancer has returned in a tougher variety. “If I’m willing to spend them this way, it’s because I believe that John is not only should be the candidate, but will be the nominee.”
She said she’s doing well.
“I feel strong and healthy. I’m still not fast enough to keep up with these kids,” Elizabeth said.
“Nobody is,” her husband said.