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Edwards cites momentum despite poll

From NBC/NJ's Tricia Miller
AMES, Iowa -- In his first event after the final Des Moines Register poll showed Edwards in a close third behind Obama and Clinton, he told a standing-room-only crowd that his campaign is picking up momentum two days before the caucus.

"You know, there's so much energy and excitement in the campaign. You know, I don't need a poll to tell me that we're moving and we're moving every single day, and we're moving in the right direction in this campaign."

After the poll came out, Edwards' campaign released what it called "guidance" on the results: The poll was conducted over a holiday weekend; it included a disproportionate percentage of first-time caucus-goers; and it asserted that a high percentage of Republicans and independents will caucus as Democrats.

Other polls have shown that Edwards is favored as a second choice among Democratic caucus-goers, important because supporters of candidates that don't make a 15% threshold can redistribute to stronger candidates. Edwards addressed that in response to a question from a reporter after the Ames event: "I am the strongest candidate for second choice among caucus-goers, and I think what'll move 'em is this very personal passionate message of ending corporate greed and standing up for their children and grandchildren. Period. I mean, I think that's what they're responding to. I had people come up to me after this event today saying they came in for Sen. Clinton, Sen. Obama, and now they're for me. They just have to hear it."

The event at an Iowa State University ballroom was the first stop in Edwards' 36-hour campaign through Iowa. The former North Carolina senator has scheduled 16 stops starting at noon today and ending with a rally featuring John Mellencamp in Des Moines tomorrow night. Edwards hopes to highlight his economic policies throughout the trip.

*** UPDATE *** Later in the evening, the Edwards campaign touted a new Iowa poll that showed them in first place after second-choice support is reallocated. Per the Insider/Advantage survey, Clinton leads Edwards and Obama, 30%-29%-22%. But when second-choicers are realigned, it is Edwards 41%, Clinton 34%, and Obama 25%.