It may seem that Edwards is running a distant third to the two leading Democratic candidates, but don’t write him off yet. As you may remember from the last election, things can change very quickly during the primaries and Edwards is working hard on Iowa. In Iowa at least Edwards is running neck and neck with the other candidates, even leading in some polls. A win there could propel him to the lead, much to the horror of all those centrists warning about the dangers of Democratic populism.”

Edwards’ secret weapon? His wife:

Edwards: … The problem for me with the other candidates is I don’t know what it is that drives them. What is it they really believe in that makes them get up in the morning and want to do this? I should think the President has to be somebody who has that kind of vision outside themselves.

Conniff: What’s the answer for your husband?

Edwards: It’s the continuing inequity. We still have a middle class that lives on a razor blade. So sometimes when you say poverty, you neglect a large portion of the population about whom he’s deeply concerned. It’s the two-income trap. It’s more likely in America that your parents will file for bankruptcy than divorce. We think of divorce as so prevalent, but we all know that happens because somebody moves out of the house. But when bankruptcy happens, they stay there, they close up, and you don’t feel what’s going on. But what that means is we have all these families under stress, constantly. And then we have the people who are trying to get out of dire distress. You hear that thirty-seven million people in this country live in poverty, and fifteen million people — fifteen million — live in deep poverty, which is $7,800 for a family of three.

Conniff: It’s unimaginable.

Edwards: It is unimaginable. What do you hear these other people saying? Not one word. It’s fine to go give a speech on inequity. But I don’t for a minute think it’s what drives these other candidates. I don’t. Maybe it’s not a failure of their heart but a failure of their communication. But I know what drives John. So I know how he would lead. He would lead on the same things he talked about before he was running. And if people didn’t talk about it before, and they do talk about it while they are running, I’m not convinced they are going to do the same things.