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 Edwards Drops Out of Race for President??? 
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Post Edwards Drops Out of Race for President???
NEW ORLEANS — John Edwards, the progressive Democratic candidate who made a populist, antipoverty message the centerpiece of his campaign, announced his exit from the presidential primary race on Wednesday, saying he was stepping aside “so that history can blaze its path.”
“They have both pledged to me — and more importantly, through me to America — that they will make ending poverty central to their campaign for the presidency,” he said.
Mr. Edwards said he could not predict which of the remaining candidates would go on to win the White House, but said he believed it would be a Democrat.
“Our Democratic Party will make history,” Mr. Edwards said during his speech. “We will be strong, we will be unified, and with a little backbone, we will take back the White House.”
Mr. Edwards’s backers and voters are expected to split their support between Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton, though it is unclear whether Mr. Edwards will eventually endorse a candidate. Both senators offered praise for Mr. Edwards at campaign stops shortly before Mr. Edwards gave his speech.
At an Obama campaign rally in Denver, Mr. Obama praised the commitment Mr. Edwards has given to poverty in America and his call to bridge the gap between rich and poor. More than 10,000 people in a basketball arena, as well as an overflow crowd of several thousand more, gave Mr. Edwards a standing ovation.
“John has spent a lifetime fighting to give voice to the voiceless and hope to the struggling,” Mr. Obama said. “At a time when our politics is too focused on who’s up and who’s down, he has consistently made us focus on who matters.”
Mrs. Clinton, meanwhile, released a statement saying that Mr. Edwards ran with “compassion and conviction,” and fought for Americans in need.
Throughout the campaign season, Mr. Edwards had not been able to break through the dueling high-profile candidacies of Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Obama, and he had not been able to raise the kind of money that his two chief rivals had early on.
Mr. Edwards placed a distant third Tuesday night in Florida’s primary. And even more disappointing, as a native of South Carolina, he finished in the mid-teens there, as Mr. Obama won overwhelmingly. Mr. Edwards had campaigned heavily in Iowa for months and months, fine-tuning a populist message and issuing many proposals, including one on health care, long before his rivals issued theirs. In the caucuses, he finished second, but just about a percentage point ahead of Mrs. Clinton.
Despite never having captured a first-place finish, Mr. Edwards had insisted that his campaign would carry on “to the convention.” And as the primary season headed toward Super Tuesday, and several big Southern states, Mr. Edwards was expected to draw a swath of white voters his way.
Indeed, Mr. Edwards was poised to collect enough delegates in early nominating contests to potentially influence the outcome at the Democratic nominating convention in August, if neither Mrs. Clinton nor Mr. Obama won enough delegates to clinch the nomination.
But Mr. Edwards began notifying close advisers and longtime supporters about his decision to drop out of the race early today. It was a decision rooted simply in the political reality of the challenges he faced in the 22 states holding contests on Feb. 5, according to people familiar with the decision, and had nothing to do with the health of his wife, Elizabeth Edwards, who has been battling cancer.
Mrs. Edwards and the couple’s two young children traveled with him and stood beside him as he gave his speech in New Orleans. .
For days, the question of whether he would stay in the race was an off-limits topic of conversation among those in his inner circle, but several major contributors began growing antsy, with some eager to begin lining up with either Mr. Obama or Mrs. Clinton.
In the days leading up to the South Carolina primary, chatter among contributors intensified, but Mr. Edwards and his advisers worked to tamp down the speculation. His third-place finish, though, essentially sealed the decision and several contributors began raising concern that he was acting as a spoiler in the race.
John C. Moylan, a close friend and campaign adviser, said this morning that Mr. Edwards came to the decision to drop out within the last 24 hours.
“I think the timing now felt right to him,” Mr. Moylan said. “He felt like it would do more good if he stepped aside.
“I don’t think there was one overriding decision that says you have to get out now,” he added. “Clearly he could have stuck it out.”
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