WASHINGTON (CNN) - The campaign of former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards said Monday it had built up a daunting field advantage in Iowa – a state where, more than most, a candidate’s primary fortunes can rise and fall on the experience level of its volunteers. It also announced the endorsement of Rep. Bruce Braley, the first Iowa Democrat to officially back a primary candidate this cycle.
The Edwards campaign has trained at least two precinct captains each in more than 87 percent of caucus precincts, Deputy Campaign Manager Jonathan Prince said in a conference call.
Prince said that result is a “stark contrast to the organization we had last time,” when the relatively resource-poor Edwards managed to place a strong second in Iowa behind Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry, the eventual Democratic nominee. “Unlike all the other campaigns, we have a both deep and broad organization throughout the state,” said Prince.
The campaign also unveiled an ad calling for universal health insurance for children.
Edwards, who began his Iowa campaign with an advantage in that state because of his strong showing last cycle – and a core group of committed supporters who volunteered for him during that bid – has consistently placed near the top of the Democratic field there in most recent surveys, along with New York Sen. Hillary Clinton and Illinois Sen. Barack Obama. The three were essentially tied within the margin of error in the latest Des Moines Register poll, released this weekend.
Polling is notoriously difficult in Iowa, whose complicated caucus system means that fielding the most experienced set of precinct captains may be more important to a candidate than claiming the top spot in pre-vote surveys.
–CNN Associate Political Editor Rebecca Sinderbrand