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Edwards picking off voters?

From NBC/NJ's Tricia Miller
MUSCATINE, Iowa -- One sign of momentum for Edwards five days before the Iowa caucus may be picking off caucus-goers from other campaigns. In a press release preceding the day's first event, the campaign named 45 Iowans who supported either John Kerry, Howard Dean or Dick Gephardt in the 2004 caucus but plan to caucus for Edwards next week.

Meanwhile, at the event, a Kucinich supporter stood and said that he caucused for Edwards in 2004 after his first choice wasn't viable. (In January 2004 Edwards and Kucinich each advised their supporters to move to the other's camp if one of them was not viable.) The questioner said he was considering Edwards again.

"I was proud to caucus for you last time after campaigning my heart out for Dennis Kucinich," he told Edwards and asked if the candidate would support Kucinich's proposal for a Cabinet-level Department of Peace.

"Well, I'm not for a Department of Peace, so I'm going to give you an answer you don't like. I think that -- and it's a perfectly fine idea. I'm not saying it's a bad idea. It's just not what I would do," he said. "I think the way the president of the United States approaches the rest of the world is more important than any of these bureaucracies, and the engagement and the constructive engagement with the rest of the world in a way that creates peace and security is the most critical element."

Edwards was introduced at the event by his state co-chair, Roxanne Conlin, a trial lawyer and the first female gubernatorial candidate in Iowa, and by state Rep. Nathan Reichert from Muscatine. Reichert likened the former North Carolina senator's campaign to a Big Ten football game.

"These folks who are in this room know that John Edwards has run a steady, grinding -- what I would call a good-time, smash mouth Big Ten football campaign. It has been 3 yards and a pile of dust, three yards and a pile of dust, three yards and a pile of dust," he said. "It's been Muscatine and West Liberty and Wapello and all those little towns all across Iowa."

Edwards has three more events today, ending the day with a rally in Des Moines. He was joined in Muscatine by his son Jack and daughter Emma Claire. His wife Elizabeth and older daughter Cate are also traveling Iowa on his behalf today.