Ed­wards, Gi­u­liani With­draw From Race

Ex-N.Y. Mayor En­dorses McCain

The Washington Post - - Front Page - By Dan Balz and Anne E. Korn­blut

SIMI VAL­LEY, Calif., Jan. 30 — The pres­i­den­tial nom­i­na­tion bat­tles nar­rowed to a pair of head-to-head con­tests Wed­nes­day as Demo­crat John Ed­wards and Repub­li­can Ru­dolph W. Gi­u­liani re­treated to the side­lines, while the re­main­ing can­di­dates dug in for five days of in­ten­sive cam­paign­ing be­fore a Su­per Tues­day show­down next week.

Gi­u­liani led the na­tional Repub­li­can polls for much of last year, but his sup­port plum­meted in the open­ing weeks of the pri­ma­rycau­cus sea­son. He folded his cam­paign Wed­nes­day and im­me­di­ately en­dorsed Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) at a joint news con­fer­ence here hours be­fore last night’s GOP de­bate at the Ron­ald Rea­gan Pres­i­den­tial Li­brary.

“John McCain is the most qual­i­fied can­di­date to be the next com­man­der in chief of the United States,” Gi­u­liani said with McCain at his side. “He is an Amer­i­can hero, and Amer­ica could use he­roes in the White House. He’s a man of honor and in­tegrity, and you can un­der­line both.” Two McCain ad­vis­ers said that Cal­i­for­nia Gov. Arnold Sch­warzeneg­ger will en­dorse the sen­a­tor Thurs­day.

McCain and for­mer Mas­sachusetts gover-

nor Mitt Rom­ney clashed re­peat­edly dur­ing the de­bate. McCain at­tacked Rom­ney’s eco­nomic record in Mas­sachusetts, and Rom­ney ques­tioned whether McCain is a true con­ser­va­tive. Their sharpest ex­change came over Iraq and whether Rom­ney had called for se­cret timeta­bles for with­draw­ing troops. Rom­ney an­grily ac­cused McCain of not telling the truth, and McCain ac­cused Rom­ney of lack­ing the courage to sup­port Pres­i­dent Bush’s troop in­crease un­til oth­ers had ral­lied around it.

On the Demo­cratic side, Ed­wards, whose an­gry pop­ulism and fo­cus on poverty made him a dis­tinc­tive voice in the Demo­cratic race, ended his can­di­dacy where it be­gan, in the Lower Ninth Ward in New Or­leans, which was dev­as­tated by Hur­ri­cane Ka­t­rina. “It is time for me to step aside so his­tory can blaze its path,” he told sup­port­ers.

Ed­wards said noth­ing about an en­dorse­ment of ei­ther Sen. Hil­lary Rod­ham Clin­ton (N.Y.) or Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.), and ad­vis­ers said he has no im­mi­nent plans to do so.

Ed­wards’s de­par­ture left Clin­ton and Obama fac­ing a po­ten­tially pro­tracted con­test that could ex­tend past Su­per Tues­day to pri­maries and cau­cuses stretch­ing into March or be­yond. The two Democrats will meet for their first one-on-one de­bate in Los An­ge­les on Thurs­day night.

The Repub­li­can race could reach an ef­fec­tive con­clu­sion in Tues­day’s bal­lot­ing, with McCain, com­ing off his vic­tory in Florida on Tues­day, de­ter­mined to close out the chal­lenge from for­mer Mas­sachusetts gov­er­nor Mitt Rom­ney. For­mer Arkansas gov­er­nor Mike Huck­abee, who fin­ished fourth in Florida, still poses a po­ten­tial ob­sta­cle to Rom­ney, es­pe­cially in many of the South­ern pri­maries on Tues­day. Rep. Ron Paul (Tex.), mean­while, has strug­gled to ex­pand his sup­port be­yond a dogged but small anti-es­tab­lish­ment con­stituency.

While the Demo­cratic and Repub­li­can races are now es­sen­tially two-per­son con­tests, their po­lit­i­cal con­tours are markedly dif­fer­ent. Clin­ton and Obama are in a fre­quently nasty per­sonal fight, but not one that re­flects deep ide­o­log­i­cal di­vi­sions or, as yet, threat­ens to leave the party badly di­vided once it is over.

Repub­li­cans on the other hand, see the prospect of a clear frac­ture in their coali­tion as a re­sult of the nom­i­na­tion con­test. McCain is win­ning im­por­tant pri­maries, but he is do­ing so with­out the sup­port of the party’s con­ser­va­tive or re­li­gious base.

“The base has got to take a look at this and de­cide what it wants,” said a strate­gist who has worked on be­half of an­other can­di­date. “Even McCain’s peo­ple would tell you they are close to fin­ish­ing the job [of win­ning the nom­i­na­tion] po­lit­i­cally, but ide­o­log­i­cally they’re not.”

As the Repub­li­cans gath­ered in Simi Val­ley for their sec­ond de­bate of the cam­paign at the Rea­gan Li­brary, Clin­ton and Obama hop­scotched across states vot­ing on Feb. 5 on their way to their own fo­rum on Thurs­day.

Obama, af­ter spend­ing Tues­day in the Kansas town where his grand­par­ents lived, headed to Den­ver for a rally. Later, he went to Ari­zona, where he en­joys the sup­port of Gov. Janet Napoli­tano but none­the­less faces stiff com­pe­ti­tion from Clin­ton.

Obama of­fered ef­fu­sive praise for Ed­wards and his wife, El­iz­a­beth, as he cam­paigned Wed­nes­day. “John has spent a life­time fight­ing to give a voice to the voice­less and hope for the strug­gling,” he told a crowd of 9,000 gath­ered inside the Univer­sity of Den­ver bas­ket­ball arena.

“At a time when our pol­i­tics is too fo­cused on who’s up and who’s down, he’s con­sis­tently made us fo­cus on who mat­ters. . . .,” he added. “John and El­iz­a­beth Ed­wards be­lieve deeply that two Amer­i­cas can be­come one.”

Dur­ing his Den­ver speech, Obama used tough lan­guage to draw a con­trast with Clin­ton and ar­gued that she would unite Repub­li­cans against her rather than unit­ing the coun­try.

“I know it is tempt­ing — af­ter an­other pres­i­dency by a man named Ge­orge Bush — to sim­ply turn back the clock, and to build a bridge back to the 20th cen­tury,” he said in a para­phrase of Pres­i­dent Bill Clin­ton’s 1996 re­elec­tion slo­gan. “There are those who will tell us that our party should nom­i­nate some­one who is more prac­ticed in the art of pur­su­ing power, that it’s not yet our turn or our time. . . . It is time for a new gen­er­a­tion of lead­er­ship.”

Clin­ton’s cam­paign e-mailed re­porters, call­ing Obama’s speech an “an­gry screed.”

Clin­ton cam­paigned in Arkansas and Ge­or­gia. Af­ter her land­slide loss in South Carolina on Satur­day, Clin­ton fo­cused on African Amer­i­can vot­ers. She stopped to greet pa­trons, most of them black, at a Lit­tle Rock diner and then spoke to the Na­tional Bap­tist Con­ven­tions in At­lanta in the late af­ter­noon.

Clin­ton, call­ing for “change with jus­tice,” in­voked bib­li­cal phrases as she promised to end what she called the Bush ad­min­is­tra­tion’s “epi­demic of in­dif­fer­ence.” Lead­ers, she said, must “de­liver real so­lu­tions to the real prob­lems that our peo­ple are fac­ing.” That was about as harsh as Clin­ton got, strik­ing a largely pos­i­tive tone and drop­ping some of her more pointed lines aimed at Obama.

Clin­ton thanked Ed­wards and his wife “for their years of pub­lic ser­vice.” But she said she had not asked for his en­dorse­ment.

“I think it is up to Sen­a­tor Ed­wards to de­cide how he’s go­ing to par­tic­i­pate, if at all, in the up­com­ing cam­paign,” she said af­ter an event at North Lit­tle Rock High School.

The ques­tion of an Ed­wards en­dorse­ment coursed through the Demo­cratic cam­paign in the hours af­ter word of his de­ci­sion be- came pub­lic. The for­mer sen­a­tor from North Carolina has been in con­tact with Clin­ton and Obama in the past 10 days in private con­ver­sa­tions that aides were re­luc­tant to char­ac­ter­ize.

Ed­wards has aligned him­self with Obama as one of the two change-ori­ented can­di­dates in the Demo­cratic race. At times, he has harshly crit­i­cized Clin­ton as a politi­cian who sym­bol­izes the cozy re­la­tion­ship in Wash­ing­ton be­tween cor­po­rate power and politi­cians who seek their money.

That led to spec­u­la­tion that, if he de­cides to en­dorse, he will prob­a­bly throw his sup­port to Obama. But Democrats close to Ed­wards cau­tioned that the choice may not be so ev­i­dent or easy. Ed­wards has come to know both can­di­dates well through their joint ap­pear­ances over the past year and sees strengths and weak­nesses in both, ac­cord­ing to Democrats close to the for­mer sen­a­tor.

“You’ve got two can­di­dates up to this point that have made change their theme — Ed­wards and Obama,” Robert Gibbs, Obama’s com­mu­ni­ca­tions di­rec­tor, told re­porters trav­el­ing with the cam­paign. “If Ed­wards is not tak­ing those vot­ers any­more, they’ve got a great home with our cam­paign.”

But there is ev­i­dence that Clin­ton may profit from Ed­wards’s with­drawal. One Ed­wards ad­viser, speak­ing on the con­di­tion of anonymity, said Clin­ton may pick up sup­port in South­ern states that oth­er­wise might have gone to Ed­wards, while Obama could ben­e­fit from lib­eral Democrats’ sup­port in such states as Cal­i­for­nia or Min­nesota.

In the GOP race, Gi­u­liani could help McCain nail down vic­to­ries in pri­maries in the North­east — New York, New Jer­sey, Con­necti­cut and Delaware — and their big bas­kets of del­e­gates. But he will do lit­tle to help McCain bridge the di­vide within the GOP.

Rom­ney’s ad­vis­ers see an op­por­tu­nity to high­light ide­o­log­i­cal dif­fer­ences be­tween the two and to cast the race as out­sider vs. in­sider and fu­ture vs. past.

“That is the con­trast, and over the next seven days we have to make that case,” said Kevin Mad­den, Rom­ney’s press sec­re­tary. Korn­blut, trav­el­ing with Clin­ton, re­ported from Arkansas and Ge­or­gia. Alec MacGil­lis, trav­el­ing with Obama, re­ported from Colorado and Ari­zona.

BY ALEX BRAN­DON — AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Demo­crat John Ed­wards and his fam­ily wave to sup­port­ers in New Or­leans af­ter he an­nounced his with­drawal from the 2008 pres­i­den­tial race.

BY BRIAN SNY­DER — REUTERS

Sen. Hil­lary Rod­ham Clin­ton (D-N.Y.) re­acts as Dwayne Turner, known as “Belvis the Black Elvis,” per­forms at the restau­rant in Lit­tle Rock.

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