If Hillary Clinton ends up winning the Democratic nomination, she may have John Edwards to thank.
That's the view of Brendan Miniter takes in the Wall Street Journal's "Political Diary". (Subscription required).
"When asked by a TV reporter last night why she was heading to the polls, one New Hampshire voter first made sure the camera was rolling and then said flat-out that her purpose was to “Get rid of the Clintons.”
Hillary Clinton won a surprising victory last night to inhale new life into her campaign. But she can’t breathe easy yet. In New Hampshire, six out of 10 Democratic voters cast ballots for a candidate other than her.
And, as Iowa made clear last week, very few Democrats consider Mrs. Clinton to be their second choice candidate. That leaves her with this reality: Barack Obama might well have taken New Hampshire last night if not for the 17% of votes that went to John Edwards.
The campaign is now moving to South Carolina where Mr. Edwards is the strongest. And he’s fast becoming the man to watch in this race. Four years ago, he won the Palmetto State, a victory that ultimately led to John Kerry picking him for a running mate.
This year, Mr. Edwards is unlikely to repeat that performance — his stump speech is so filled with anecdotes of dead children who didn’t receive health care and humble folks ground down by “corporate greed” that it has begun to leave even his supporters depressed and downtrodden.
But while he may have little hope of winning the No. 2 spot on a ticket headed by either Mr. Obama or Mrs. Clinton, he could still play a decisive role in who wins the nomination.
Mr. Edwards has $12 million on hand, a cadre of union supporters and a promise to stay in the race all the way until the convention. If he makes good on that promise, he could siphon off enough anti-Hillary voters (of whom even the Democratic Party has many) to make it nearly impossible for Mr. Obama to win the nomination.
Once seen as the future of his party, Mr. Edwards could now paradoxically knock the legs out from under the candidate most likely to bring new voters into the party while lifting up a divisive 'status quo' candidate who is unable, on her own, to win a majority of support of Democratic voters."
H/T Stop Her Now