The Edwards camp shot a campaign memo around to reporters today explaining Edwards' "path to the nomination."
"Ultimately, we expect the race to narrow to one of the two celebrity candidates and us," it says, "and when that happens, we are confident that the remaining contests will break in our direction as voters are finally offered the choice the national media has ignored all year—the most progressive, most electable candidate in the race, John Edwards."
That last phrase—"the most progressive, most electable candidate"—is used throughout the memo.
The campaign goes on to mention that only a handful of delegates have actually been awarded (counts vary, but the Edwards people identify about 130), while there are over 4,000 total to be awarded in primaries nationwide. That means that a candidate needs to take over 2,000 delegates to win. The point is, Edwards has time to make a comeback.
So that's the plan (or, that's the plan they'll make public)—stick around and hope that one of the "celebrity" candidates stumbles so badly that he or she has to get out of the race. Not a great bet, but the only one Edwards can make.
The problem is, there isn't a whole lot of retail politics from here on out. As the Edwards people point out, "once people have a chance to hear directly from John Edwards, the numbers move." But on Super Tuesday, Edwards will not be able to work the small towns of any particular state, the way he did in Iowa and South Carolina. He has to rely on big ad buys and free media (aka press coverage). Neither of those things are really within Edwards' reach right now.