DES MOINES, Iowa (CNN) -- Democratic presidential hopefuls Sen. Hillary Clinton and Sen. Barack Obama took thinly veiled swings at former Sen. John Edwards on Monday, appropriating some of Edwards' populist appeals ahead of this week's Iowa caucuses.
Former Sen. John Edwards talks to voters at Buena Vista University in Storm Lake, Iowa, Monday.
Recent polls show Edwards, Clinton and Obama in a statistical dead heat going into Thursday's caucuses, the first contest of the 2008 presidential race.
Edwards came in second in Iowa in 2004, when he ended up as the party's vice presidential nominee, and he told CNN's "American Morning" that his campaign has "an awful lot of momentum now."
"We have overflow crowds, a lot of energy and enthusiasm," the former North Carolina senator said. "People can't get in the door. This is what you want to see at the end of a campaign, so we feel very encouraged."
Edwards, a veteran trial lawyer, has built his second presidential bid on broadsides against corporate interests he says have "rigged" the political process against average Americans. Watch Edwards explain why you can't 'buy' a victory in Iowa »
But Clinton, a U.S. senator from New York and former first lady, told supporters Monday "there isn't anybody running who has taken on more special interests and gotten more done and survived the incoming fire than I have."
"It's easy to talk about taking on special interests," she said during an appearance in the Mississippi River town of Keokuk, Iowa. "I've taken on the drug companies, I've taken on the health insurance companies, I've taken on the oil companies, and I intend to keep doing it."
Obama, the first-term senator from neighboring Illinois, said Americans are ready for an end to "Scooter Libby justice and Brownie incompetence and Karl Rove politics."
But he told supporters in Perry, Iowa, northwest of Des Moines, that he is able to draw Republican support and reach across party lines in Congress. Watch Obama make his pitch to undecided voters »
"Change is not going to come just because we holler and shout at the lobbyists," he said. "It's not going to come because we turn up the heat on Republicans. There's no shortage of anger in Washington. We don't need more heat in Washington, we need more light."
Edwards is high in the polls and a strong second choice among Iowans -- a fact that could be key under party caucus rules, which eliminate candidates who draw less than 15 percent support.
But he lags well behind Obama and Clinton in the upcoming primary contests in New Hampshire and South Carolina, according to published polls in those states, and has lagged behind them in fund-raising.
A win in Iowa could give Edwards a boost going into New Hampshire, which holds its primary January 8.
"My strategy is to make sure that caucus-goers and voters in subsequent states know what I want to do as president," he said. "What I want to do as president is to stand up for the jobs and the middle class in this country, fight the corporate greed, stop the corporate greed destroying the middle class." E-mail to a friend
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