Edwards Ends Second Run for White House

John Edwards, who never stopped running for president after the 2004 election, but whose hopes for 2008 were never realized, withdrew from the presidential race Wednesday. Edwards' failure to win Iowa was the beginning of the end, and a third-place finish in his native South Carolina may have been the final straw. He has not announced plans to endorse a rival.

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From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Michele Norris.

For the Democrats, it's down to two. Former Senator John Edwards dropped out of the presidential race today and he made the announcement in the same place he launched his campaign, the Ninth Ward of New Orleans. The location was chosen, obviously, to highlight a main theme in Edwards' campaign - poverty. And as he's saying to his supporters and urged his party to fight for the disadvantaged, Edwards refused to endorse either Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama.

Coming up, we'll talk about the voters Edwards attracted and how they might be targeted.

First, here's NPR's Carrie Kahn from New Orleans.

(Soundbite of applause)

CARRIE KAHN: With his wife and three children, John Edwards climbed upon a stage erected in front of dozens of homes draped with American flags. The houses are being built by volunteers in one of New Orleans' most devastated neighborhoods.

Mr. JOHN EDWARDS (Former Democratic Senator, North Carolina): Today, I am suspending my campaign for the Democratic nomination for the presidency. But I want to say this to everyone - this son of a mill worker is going to be just fine. Our job now is to make certain that America will be fine.

KAHN: Edwards said he called both Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama and received their pledges that ending poverty would be a central theme of their campaigns.

Mr. EDWARDS: America's hour of transformation is upon us. It may be hard to believe when we have bullets flying in Baghdad; it may be hard to believe when it cost $58 to fill your car up with gas. It's hard to speak out for change when you feel like your voice is not being heard.

KAHN: Edwards was addressing his supporters, but he could very well have been talking about his own campaign. Poverty as a central theme failed to rally the electorate as much as Edwards had hoped. He was always at a funding disadvantage against Clinton and Obama. He expended much time and energy and money in the Iowa caucuses but could finish no better than second. And in South Carolina, his birth state, and the only primary carried four years ago, he finished a weak third. On his way to make his announcement today, Edwards stopped by a highway underpass to talk with hundreds of homeless camped out in tents. One woman begged him to keep fighting for the disadvantaged. In his final remarks today, Edwards urged his supporters and the Democratic Party to keep fighting for the poor in America.

Mr. EDWARDS: Do not turn away from these great struggles before us. Do not give up on the causes that we have fought for. Do not walk away from what's possible because it's time for all of us, all of us together, to make the two Americas one. Thank you. God bless you, and let's go to work.

KAHN: Many supporters in the crowd like Chris Rimes(ph) of Monroe, Louisiana, said they thought they were coming to see a campaign event, not the end of Edwards' candidacy.

Mr. CHRIS RIMES: I'm really disappointed but, you know, I kind of knew it was a long shot to begin with when I first started to volunteer for the campaign, so.

KAHN: Rimes said he backed Edwards because of the former senator's record on labor. He said he didn't know who he would support now.

But Lila Murphy(ph), who was in town to help build houses, said the smaller field is good for her candidate, Hillary Clinton.

Ms. LILA MURPHY: I'm actually glad that they're starting to drop out. And this way, you know, it won't (unintelligible) up the votes, you know.

KAHN: Edwards declined to endorse either candidate and did not answer questions about whether he would like to be considered for a vice presidential slot. As for the 56 national convention delegates that John Edwards has won, most will be free to support any candidate of their choosing.

Carrie Kahn, NPR News, New Orleans.

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Edwards Drops Out; Giuliani Expected to Follow

Former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards dropped out of the race for the Democratic presidential nomination on Wednesday, a day after his dismal showing in the Florida Democratic primary.

"With our convictions and a little backbone we will take back the White House in November," said Edwards, ending his second campaign in a hurricane-ravaged section of New Orleans where he began it more than a year ago.

Edwards said his rivals Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama had both pledged that "they will make ending poverty central to their campaign for the presidency."

"This is the cause of my life and I now have their commitment to engage in this cause," he said before a small group of supporters.

He did not endorse either Clinton or Obama.

Obama released a statement after Edward's announcement, praising his commitment to the voiceless and the struggling. "At a time when our politics is too focused on who's up and who's down, he made a nation focus again on who matters – the New Orleans child without a home, the West Virginia miner without a job, the families who live in that other America that is not seen or heard or talked about by our leaders in Washington."

Edwards ran a populist campaign, constantly highlighting what he saw as the country's growing class inequality. But he failed to beat either Obama or Clinton in any of the 2008 presidential races, losing in New Hampshire, Iowa, Nevada and South Carolina.

In Florida, Clinton garnered 50 percent of the vote, while Obama racked up 33 percent and Edwards mustered only 14 percent. The Florida vote did not bring with it any delegates, however. The Democratic National Committee stripped that state of its delegates for moving its primary up.

Arizona Sen. John McCain won Florida's Republican contest, capturing the state's 57 delegates in the winner-take-all contest.

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani is expected to drop out of the race and throw his support behind McCain, as the Arizona senator's campaign builds momentum going into next week's Super Tuesday contests.

Despite his second-place finish on Tuesday, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney told supporters he will stay in the race, saying America needs someone who has had a job in the real economy.

Giuliani finished a distant third and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee finished fourth.

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