What Is Edwards Waiting For?

When Rudy Giuliani bowed out of the Republican race, it took all of five minutes for news of his McCain endorsement to leak.

John Edwards, by contrast, is taking his time. It’s been almost a week since the former senator dropped out of the Democratic race, sparking speculation about a possible endorsement. But with Super Tuesday polls opening in less than 24 hours, we’re getting tired of holding our breath. A former campaign official says an endorsement today is “highly unlikely.” What’s Edwards waiting for?

A couple of scenarios:

He doesn’t want to pick the wrong guy (or gal). The Democratic race is still up in the air. If Edwards endorsed a loser, he would risk lowering his already depleted cachet. Plus, who wants to lose a general election, lose a primary four years later, and then have your candidate lose the general after that?

He’s holding out for a better deal. Endorsements often come laden with promises of sweet Cabinet positions, ambassadorships, and other appointments. Or sometimes a candidate just wants certain issues prioritized—in this case, probably poverty and corporate greed. Maybe Edwards hasn’t secured the promises he was hoping for and is waiting for a better offer.

He doesn’t actually want to influence the election. In his concession speech in New Orleans, Edwards said he was stepping aside so that “history can blaze its path.” Perhaps he wants to let the American people make their own decision, without his help.  

He simply hasn’t decided who he prefers. You’d think that after a year of locking horns with these two, Edwards would have a fave. But the trail doesn’t allow for many intimate policy chats. Both Clinton and Obama have universal or near-universal health care plans; both want to reduce corporate influence in Washington; both have won wide union support. If Super Tuesday doesn’t produce a clear front-runner, Edwards will still have plenty of time to make up his mind.