In the afterglow of what the pundocracy is calling his strongest debate performance, John Edwards is launching the biggest TV ad blitz of his campaign.
The 60-second spot, the first he is airing in Iowa, plays up the populist strain of his candidacy. He calls on the Democratic Party to stand up for working men and women, whom he says are America's real heroes.
"It is time for our party, the Democratic Party, to show a little backbone, to have a little guts, to stand up for working men and women," the former North Carolina senator says as pictures of workers cross the screen. "If we are not their voice, they will never have a voice."
The ad also mentions his wife Elizabeth's breast cancer in the context of the couple's decision in March to keep campaigning after doctors found it had returned. "We're not going to quietly go away. Instead we're going to go out and fight for what it is we believe in," he says.
The ad will kick off "American Heroes Week" events in New Hampshire, South Carolina, and New Orleans, as well as Iowa.
Edwards is staking his campaign on winning in Iowa. He is a close third behind Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama in the latest polls in Iowa, where the first-in-the-nation caucus is Jan. 3.
In a conference call, Edwards campaign officials said the ad is perfectly timed to build on his strong on-the-ground organization in Iowa. They noted that he is still in a three-way race despite having spent only $23,000 on TV ads before the new buy, compared to the millions spent by Clinton and Obama.
The Edwards officials wouldn't say how much they plan to spend on the ads, but said they plan to keep ads on TV through the caucus. "Iowans are going to see this ad many times," said deputy campaign manager Jonathan Prince.
Senior adviser Joe Trippi called Tuesday night's debate -- in which Edwards confronted Clinton over who could better bring change and fix a broken system in Washington -- "the defining moment of the campaign so far."
"The campaign is hitting on all cylinders," Trippi said.