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John Edwards’ withdrawal was an abrupt surprise – even to his closest supporters.

Monday afternoon, his campaign was telling reporters on a conference call that he was in for the duration. Tuesday afternoon, they were sending out fundraising emails and laying on a full schedule through Super Tuesday.

Clearly, this was a sudden decision.

Politically, Edwards was in trouble once he lost Iowa. He bet the farm on winning there.

Then came a series of third-place finishes. He had to wonder at what point he would go from being a player to a pariah.

But Edwards was raising money. He had a chance to accumulate delegates. He could influence the nomination even if he didn’t win.

So this has to be personal in part. His wife is fighting cancer. They have young children. At some point, you just decide to go home.

Edwards probably will endorse Obama now. If Edwards’ voters are “change” voters, they’ll go to Obama. If they are race voters, they’ll go to Clinton.

The chatter is that Obama might consider Edwards for Attorney General. That’s enough to give corporate America serious heartburn.

Also, Edwards is only 54 years old. He’d be 62 in 2016, if you know what I mean.

Another presidential campaign is unlikely once you’ve run and lost twice. But Reagan lost in 1968 and 1976. One Edwards supporter even noted that Nixon came back eight years after losing. That’s not a precedent I would cite.

A Senate race in North Carolina? Been there, done that. Terry Sanford did it in 1986 after running for President in 1972 and 1976. But that was Terry Sanford.

Edwards’ exit from politics could be just as meteoric as his entrance.

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