January 25, 2008

Joe Trippi, a top strategist for John Edwards’ presidential campaign, conceded to the Wall Street Journal that the former senator probably won’t be the Democratic nominee, but can still have a significant influence on who is.

“I think 200 delegates on Feb. 6 is our over-under,” Mr. Trippi said. Although he continues to insist that Mr. Edwards has a chance at securing the nomination, Mr. Trippi concedes it is a long shot. More probable: arriving at the convention with enough delegates to tip the scales in favor of either Mrs. Clinton or Mr. Obama. “Edwards is the primary force keeping Clinton under 50%,” Mr. Trippi said. “Worst case? We go to the convention as the peacemaker, kingmaker, whatever you want to call it.”

As Mr. Trippi figures it, if Mr. Edwards gets more than 200 delegates through the Feb. 5 contests — just more than 10% of the total 1,700 delegates at stake that day — he has a long-shot chance of playing kingmaker. If he gets 350, Mr. Trippi said Mr. Edwards is almost assured of playing that role.

So far, so good. Edwards may very well be in a position to earn 10% of the delegates, and his role may prevent one of the top two from claiming a pre-convention majority. (I’m skeptical that this is going to happen, but it’s certainly possible.) At that point, Edwards would be in a very powerful position.

The question, of course, is what Edwards wants to do with that power. Kevin Drum asks: "[I]f this is a role Edwards wants to play, what does he want from it?"

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