From NBC's Mark Murray and Chuck Todd
Obama campaign manager David Plouffe briefed the political press corps, via conference call and PowerPoint, on the state of the campaign as seen through their eyes.
The memo ticks through a series of numbers the campaign believes proves they are the candidate with momentum. But coming on the eve of the release of the final Des Moines Register poll (due out tonight), one can't help but also see the memo and call as a bit defensive. Overall, this was a presentation that a few months ago we might have expected from, say, Clinton rather than Obama. The campaign wasn't necessarily downplaying Iowa but they certainly were trying to leave the impression that Iowa's only the beginning, not the end.
In the call, Plouffe -- acknowledging that the polls show the race to be close -- cited the size of crowds at Obama events in Iowa, including a large number of undecided voters who are attending them. "Undecideds are still very interested in Sen. Obama," he said.
Plouffe also declared the Obama campaign has having the strongest organization in Iowa, and he said Obama and Edwards are the strongest second-choice options. "We think that's very important." And he added that Obama would capitalize from a large turnout.
Plouffe went on to say the race in Iowa a "one-on-seven" contest -- among Obama, Clinton, Edwards, and the various interest groups supporting Clinton and Edwards. including the "shadowing" pro-Edwards 527 group.
"We feel very good about where we are heading into Thursday," Plouffe said before going on to tout Obama's standing and organization in New Hampshire, South Carolina, Nevada, and the Feb. 5 states.
Plouffe also delivered this argument we haven't heard explicitly from the campaign before: that because Edwards accepted federal matching funds, he will be reliant on interest groups and the DNC until the Democratic convention -- if he wins the nomination.
*** UPDATE *** Edwards communications director Chris Kofinis issued this statement to Plouffe's assertions on the conference call regarding the interest-group help Edwards is receiving, as well as his ability to spend money -- if the nominee -- because he accepted federal matching funds. "The Obama campaign has spent over $9 million to our $2.6 million on television in Iowa and by all accounts we have the momentum. Their pre-occupation with money instead of the power of a strong message speaks volumes to a flailing campaign. And it may answer the question why the campaign premised on hope is closing with hopeless attacks."
More: "We'll put our message of fighting corporate greed up against Obama's and Clinton's mega millions any day of the week, in any state. The bottom line is this is an election, not an auction. Democrats win elections when they address the real issues facing the lives of Americans. John Edwards is the only Democratic candidate who won office in a 'red' state, defeated a Republican incumbent, and he is the one candidate who will contest every state and win states thought lost to Democrats."