Edwards adviser Joe Trippi pooh-poohs any rumors of infighting and says he's totally on board with the public financing decision.
As they mulled the idea [of public financing], Trippi said he became convinced it was the best way to draw a bright contrast between Edwards and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.)."He who defines the race usually wins," said Trippi. "This race is becoming defined by money. Hillary Clinton does not want this race to become about money."
For Trippi, Edwards's decision to opt in to the public financing system is a chance to reinforce the idea that Clinton is the candidate of the status quo while Edwards is the candidate of real change.
"We think it makes a very clear choice between Clinton and John Edwards," said Trippi. "He is going to take on the special interests and not owe them a damn thing."
So what about Trippi's admonition to former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean in 2003/2004 that opting for public financing was political suicide?
Trippi said that his advice to Dean came in response to the prospect of a well-funded incumbent president waiting in the wings for the eventual Democratic nominee. This time around, Republicans face the prospect of a "protracted" primary fight and, even after the nominee is chosen, they won't have the luxury that Democrats enjoy of "millions of people ready to go to the Internet" to donate. "They have to go out and 'Pioneer' and 'Ranger' it."