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Elizabeth Edwards, Critic and Crowd-Pleaser


John and Elizabeth Edwards on the campaign trail. (AP).

To a casual observer, it might seem as if the John Edwards campaign has unofficially delegated his wife Elizabeth to be the teller of hard truths who will lay out the case for her husband in tougher language than he himself can. Every few weeks brings a new, finely honed criticism of Edwards' chief rivals, the latest being her comment in a TIME article published last week that Hillary Clinton would face a challenge in the general election because the "hatred" against her would "energize the Republican base."

But this week, Mrs. Edwards denied any concerted effort on her part to deliver bomblets on her husband's behalf. "I answer questions asked me," she said while waiting to march in the Labor Day parade in Pittsburgh. "I do not go out of my way."
Asked to elaborate on her comments about Clinton's electability, Mrs. Edwards shrugged. "It's what I hear on the road. It gets repeated to me," she said.

Among Edwards' previous attention-getting remarks in recent months were: comments in an interview with Progressive magazine that Barack Obama was acting "holier than thou" in brandishing his early opposition to the war in Iraq and that Clinton lacked the "political will" to enact universal health care; comments in a Salon interview that Clinton was not as strong an advocate on women's issues as John Edwards; and comments in a online trade magazine that John Edwards needed to run a Web-based campaign because his not being black or female was keeping him from getting much traditional media coverage. Last year, at a forum sponsored by Ladies Home Journal, Edwards suggested that her career choices had made her happier than Clinton, a comment she said was taken out of context and apologized to Clinton for.

Edwards' sharp rhetoric does not appear to have affected her popularity with the broader public. Just before the parade's start, a teenaged girl approached her and said she admired Edwards' battle against an incurable form of cancer, saying her own father had recently died of cancer. "I admire your courage," Edwards told the girl. "Just make sure you get yourself checked out, okay?"

And when Carol Constantine, 53, an unemployed corporate researcher, saw Edwards in the parade, she jumped forward to cheer her. "I love her. She's very bright, smart and compassionate," she said. "She's been through hard times and understands what they're like. I don't know if I could do it, be that brave. When I get a cold, I lay down in bed."

As for Edwards' latest charge against Clinton, Constantine thought it was simply common sense. "Edwards can win," she said. "I love Hillary and Obama, but my personal belief is I don't think they can win."

--Alec MacGillis

Posted at 2:48 PM ET on Sep 5, 2007
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Comments

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One of the main winning forces of Edwards is his wife Elizebeth, who answered the critique and the crowd superbally. The author is potraying Edwards main forces for the battle for president.

Posted by: karthikbleach | September 12, 2007 9:05 PM

I am preety sure Obama is electable and enough of this ridiculous . I think Edward can't beat the republican when it comes down to it. His comment on war on Terror as a bumper sticker is enough to knock him off the pack.

The last time i checked, he couldn't even beat Dick Chenney in the debate and he add no value to Kerry's ticket.

FYI: There is excitment in democratic field because Obama is running. If Obama drop out today, you won't see that much excitment in the Democratic Field. The only chance Edward has is to get experience as because he has no public records to run on.

Posted by: gbuze007 | September 7, 2007 1:51 PM

In the NYT magazine a few weeks back it was written that republican strategists are terrified of an Edwards nomination (Southern Dem vs Yankee flip flopper Reps). Especially if Rudy is there candidate, they will get crushed. Let's be honest, a guy named Obama will not win for obvious reasons and HRC does not generate real passion or excitement. Plus, I think the country is sick of having Harvard pukes in office.

Posted by: sm4269a | September 7, 2007 10:48 AM

I have seen John and Elizabeth Edwards in person several times. I will say that they seem to have no fear about answering direct questions.

They are forthright and will even disagree with a questioner's premise. They do not hide from questions.

An interesting aspect of their approach is that they do not pander to or insult questioners. They are able to disagree, respectfully and don't over-simplify complicated issues.

I have heard very contentious questions from the audience but never disrespect or pandering from the Edwards's.

I have been to a few of Clinton events here in NH, one small house party (maybe 20 people) and two larger events at an elementary school and in the State capital. Senator Clinton took a couple of questions at the house party, but was extremely vague with her answers. This left at least two of the four questioners cold.

She took no questions at the other events. From what we heard, this disappointed at least a few attendees.

I have not been to events of the other candidates yet, so I cannot comment on their approaches.

It appears to me that the Edwards's approach to taking lots of questions and handling them well is gaining them much support here in New Hampshire.

Posted by: john13 | September 6, 2007 11:16 AM

I'm ready to support a Clinton/Edwards 2008 Ticket.

Posted by: mcsizzlesizzle | September 6, 2007 12:44 AM

Edwards 2008 As one of us, fighting for all of us...."The People's President"....

Posted by: asher13 | September 5, 2007 10:13 PM

Yes,Edwards can win and they may be the best for America, if....he gets the neocons off his wagon , because they will stab them in the back, as they did in 2004, when the neocons in the Kerry-Edwards Campaign HQ were controlling the phones and re-directing media, news, donors,critics,ideas,pointers,etc., and not passing on to the 2 candidates directly key strategic information, some of the neocons in their campaign were working for Mehlman in the GOP ,it was clear when the Rubin's showed up on their tour bus, with other neocons, it was over...shame !

Posted by: spuorgoohay2007 | September 5, 2007 4:00 PM

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