** The Machinists' decision to endorse Sen. Hillary Clinton -- and Gov. Mile Huckabee of Arkansas -- comes as a surprise to advisers for Sen. John Edwards, some of whom were confident as of last night that the Machinists were on the verge of endorsing them.

"We began this process with invitation to five Democratic candidates and five Republican candidates to come participate in a conversation with candidates. Some of the candidates declined," an IAMAW official said. "They were in depth conversations, held before 700 IAM leaders from around the United States. We conducted a survey of our membership. We also conducted polling of the folks at the site and so we had a pretty extensive outreach program to try to ascertain what our folks wanted to do. And Sen. Clinton received the most support."

** A labor political official not affiliated with the Machinists told me, "They want a winner! And a frontrunner with HRC's pedigree has no downside. Sure Edwards is great on labor but she looks more like a winner."

Bottom line: it's clear that John Edwards will suffer politically if he can't convince insiders and labor allies that he can win.

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