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Edwards backers tout Democrat's electability

By Dave Williams

dave.williams@graypub.com

ATLANTA - Former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards is the most electable Democrat in the 2008 presidential field, former Georgia Gov. Roy Barnes said Thursday.

Barnes, ex-Lt. Gov. Mark Taylor, and several other prominent Georgia Democrats, talked up Edwards' candidacy as part of a push by the Edwards campaign launched this week in both Republican states and states expected to be hotly contested next year.

Among Edwards, New York Sen. Hillary Clinton and Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, Edwards has the most general-election appeal, Barnes said during a news conference inside the Capitol.

"He pulls from independents. He pulls from dissatisfied Republicans," Barnes said.

"This election is going to be tight," Taylor added. "We need a Democrat who can compete in all 50 states."

The Georgia Democrats cited an analysis of national polls released Thursday by Edwards pollster Harrison Hickman showing Edwards as the only Democrat with a significant lead over former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani.

According to the analysis, Edwards also would defeat the other top Republican hopefuls by much larger margins than Clinton and would match or exceed Obama's margins of victory.

Within likely battleground states, the analysis showed Edward faring better in most matchups with prospective GOP opponents than Clinton or Obama.

Barnes was particularly pessimistic about Clinton's chances in a general election, even though she is leading in polls of likely Democratic primary voters.

"She is a polarizing figure," he said of the former first lady. "It is very difficult for somebody with such high negatives to get elected."

But Gordon Giffin, a prominent Atlanta lawyer and Clinton supporter, said the vast majority of Americans determined not to vote for Clinton wouldn't vote for any Democrat for president.

If Clinton is nominated by the Democrats, he said he would expect her to build on the results posted by Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry in his narrow 2004 loss to President Bush.

"Hillary Clinton will not lose a state that John Kerry won, and she's likely to win where John Kerry did not," Giffin said. "That adds up to President Hillary Clinton."