August 22nd, 2007
11:01 AM ET
11 years ago

Elizabeth Edwards: I haven't changed

Watch CNN's Kiran Chetry interview Elizabeth Edwards.

WASHINGTON (CNN) Elizabeth Edwards has become a key player in her husband's second bid for the White House, but she insisted in a CNN interview Wednesday that she's the same person she has always been.

"I think that I've not really changed," Edwards told CNN's Kiran Chetry on "American Morning." "People who do know me from 2004 know that I haven't actually changed."

Her husband, former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards, is seeking the Democratic presidential nomination.

Elizabeth Edwards added that during her husband's first White House run four years ago - before her public battle with breast cancer - she received considerably less media attention than she does now.

"I was traveling on a news free zone before - nobody really covered me," she said. "I would be in smaller markets talking to smaller groups usually of women about women's issues - and had very little press. Now, there's more press."

In recent months, Elizabeth Edwards has made several sharp statements, including a strong critique of New York Sen. Hillary Clinton's record on women's issues, a biting characterization of Illinois Sen. Barack Obama as "holier than thou," and a confrontation with conservative commentator Ann Coulter on MSNBC.

She also came under fire last month for telling an interviewer, "we can't make John black, we can't make him a woman" and argued her husband receives less media attention because he lacks the interesting stories of his chief rivals.

Elizabeth Edwards told CNN Wednesday she could have phrased that point better, saying "I think the press is legitimately interested in what is really a fascinating story - a candidate with an African-American heritage and women candidate.

"I don't begrudge the press being interested in it but it is hard to get a candidate who doesn't have those atmospherics and just trying to talk about policy into the discussion," she added.

- CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney

soundoff (36 Responses)
  1. Jenny, Des Moines Iowa

    If you have followed John Edwards at all or have read her book, you know that she hasn't changed.

    The media, of all people, should know this, but the insist that this is a huge change for her. She's always been outspoken and she's always had a good political mind.

    August 22, 2007 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  2. Antony, Dallas TX

    Elizabeth has really changed. She has become more vocal and on your face type of a person. John Edwards is letting her do his dirty work since they both know that no one will have the nerve to attack her lest they are seen as insensitive to her when she is ill. I think that is appalling as its taking advantage of a bad situtaion. Who is running for president anyway? John or Elizabeth? I think John should really keep Elizabeth from the rigors of campaigning so that she can recuperate. It may take toll on her that may not be necesary at this point.

    August 22, 2007 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  3. J Greenwood, Kittery ME

    Elizabeth Edwards has made it less likely that I would vote for her husband thanks to her comments. Just once, wouldn't it be refreshing to see a candidate and or their spouse, take the high road and act like an adult? Since this is politics, and no one can get along, it probably won't happen.

    August 22, 2007 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  4. Providence, RI

    She is hurting her husband's campaign by talking too much, like Teresa Kerry. It does not mattter anyway. Edwards is not going to win...

    August 22, 2007 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  5. Mike from New York

    Why has no one in the media recalled Elizabeth Edwards' comment from 2004 that the Cheney's 'are understandably ashamed' of their daughter's homosexuality? Why do I suspect that if the spouse of Republican candidate made such a blatant anti-homosexual or racist comment we would be constantly reminded of it by the media?

    August 22, 2007 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  6. Joan, Detroit, Mich.

    Elizabeth Edwards is not helping her husband in my opinion. Her cheap shot at Ann Coulter was inexcusable and just makes John Edwards appear to be a panty-waist who can't speak for himself. John & Elizabeth Edwardss are phony and not beleivable to me.

    August 22, 2007 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  7. Alex Lotorto, Milford PA

    Oh, she must be John's pawn! Taking and dealing the punches for him...

    Right, you conservatives?

    Wrong. She's the most powerful spouse in the race, not because John created her, because she's passionate and outspoken as always.

    August 22, 2007 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  8. Anonymous

    Elizabeth Edwards is an admirable woman. We should all celebrate the incredible people involved in this election. I'm excited that there is a candidate with African American heritage, that there is a female candidate, and that there is a candidate's wife who is trying to make a real, substantive contribution to his campaign.

    August 22, 2007 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  9. Maryann, Champaign IL

    "I don't begrudge the press being interested in it but it is hard to get a candidate who doesn't have those atmospherics and just trying to talk about policy into the discussion."

    How true. For years, we've all seen campaigns focus on the good, bad and ugly...not the issues, the candidates. For once, wouldn't it be nice to hear just what each candidate proposes without getting lambasted with "what he did(or didn't do) in the war, the business world to the point that the issues get lost? Color me idealistic, but I don't base my vote on gender or ethnicity. Talk about the issues, candidates, and convince me that your plans and world views are better and more apt to be accomplished than the others. We've had "pie in the sky" far too long.

    August 22, 2007 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  10. Scott, Fort Lauderdale, FL

    I really feel she should allow her husband to run his own campaign. I think it is a cheap tactic to use your wife as an attack dog do get your message out.

    I have yet to see other Presidential nominees wives (or Bill) attack others continuously as she has, and I see it as a move with no class.

    John Edwards has some good qualifications but this really minimizes his message. You dont see Michelle Obama acting like this.

    August 22, 2007 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  11. Bea, Hoboken, NJ

    Elizabeth is a bright woman and everybody feels terrible over her health ordeal. Though, having said that, she should be extolling her husband's virtues and not taking swipes at the other Democratic candidates. That makes her husband seem weak and that she's fighting his battles. She already criticized Hillary Clinton three times and had to once personally call her toapologize. The job of the spouse is to extoll his/her mate but not to do the candidate's job. You don't hear Bill Clinton trashing Obama or Edwards, do you?

    August 22, 2007 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  12. pl, at the UN, for a while.

    I am not American. I cannot vote. Diplomacy is my job.

    Yes, I can see Ms Elisabeth Edwards as a fist lady; but I do not imagine Mr Edwards as President. Maybe as Vice-President.

    Ms Edwards is a great help to her husband; mature, careful, in touch. Ms Obama, on the other hand, appears to be making a shooting meteorite of her husband; something that is quickly traveling away from Earth.

    August 22, 2007 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  13. Henry Tucker, GA

    So you've ALWAYS been this outspoken and prone to make silly statements about others candidates?

    The difference is simply someone put a microphone in front of you so we can hear?

    Good to know!

    August 22, 2007 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  14. Sullivan Gardner,El Paso, TX.

    ...And she alone is the reason I will NEVER vote/ show support for John Edwards. The simple fact that she used "the reverse white-racism" rant against Hilary and Obama tells me all I need to know about where her true feelings lay.

    August 22, 2007 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  15. Jeff, Minneapolis

    She's absolutely right. The media love to focus on non-stories such as "Obama Girl" and haircuts, and barely scratch the surface about issues facing America (other than terrorism, naturally).

    August 22, 2007 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  16. Kathryn - Metairie, LA

    Elizabeth Edwards should never change. She is a wonderful woman.

    August 22, 2007 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  17. Sandra Albuq, NM

    I think her comments were fair regarding Clinton and Obama. She is 100% correct. The press throws too much attention to those two candidates because of gender and race. Throw some attention to Edwards and Richardson. We are going to loose out on the opportunity to have two greatly qualified candidates seen by the people.

    August 22, 2007 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  18. Mat, Stillwater Oklahoma

    I find this ironic how she says she hasn't changed. No one cared to listen to her before, so no one can tell if there is change at all. She knows she has done more harm than good to her husbands nomination bid and she is trying to right the ship before it's to late. Sorry Liz, The damage is done and it's your choice of words that will keep your husband out of the White House for good. THINK BEFORE YOU SPEAK, or better yet, JUST PUT A LID ON IT!!

    August 22, 2007 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  19. Cathy Turtletown Tn

    If you see it and hear it then say it. As long as you are tackful about it, I believe it's ok. Do you want to live in a world where you can't speak the truth about what you see and hear? What she said is the truth the media is really focused on two candidates that are making history as a woman and a black man. That's good BUT let's focus on the issues. Our country needs help not media hype.

    August 22, 2007 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  20. HILLARY 08, Greenville SC

    Give it up lady. There's no way, and you should be smart enough to realize it, that your husband will win in 2008. I don't understand why you don't just throw in your hat (since you both only have one mine between you) and put your support behind Hillary.

    August 22, 2007 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  21. DOC - ny

    I am glad to see that Elizabeth Edwards has not "changed". It is nice to know she has not evolved out of her provincial thinking and narrow view of the world.
    Relax everyone. She is not going to be the First Lady. Let her expose her limited intellect.

    August 22, 2007 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  22. Cathy Turtletown Tn

    Please don't put Ann coulter on the same page as Mrs. Edwards. Coulter has a terrorist mouth and should never be felt sorry for. There is a difference in speaking the truth about what you see and just forming opinions about people and trashing them.

    August 22, 2007 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  23. Ryan, New York, NY

    Her cheap shot at Ann Coulter was inexcusable
    That's the funniest thing I've read this week.

    First, it's tough to take a cheap shot when you've already been attacked. Second, no one should feel sorry for Ann Coulter even if it was a cheap shot. She's the queen of taking cheap shots and it's the foundation of her career.

    August 22, 2007 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  24. pl, at the UN, for a while.

    I am not American. I cannot vote. I do not know who Ann Coulter is other than what I have learnt here.

    Elizabeth, you sound like a wonderful human being. However, don't rush to early conclusions.

    Mr. Obama's fortunes are just beginning to become undone. Keep your ears tuned to that disastrous Ms Obama; who in the last four days has done more damage than a well-conceived strategy by her enemies could have ever hoped for.

    August 22, 2007 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  25. Just an idea

    Obviously the spouses of political candidates can say whatever they want to say. The political/media problems arise when these comments are more reactive than thoughtful. That's when the candidates and highly paid aides and media consultants have to spend precious time "explaining" what the spouses "really meant" to say. This throws the important discussion threads off track and wastes everyone's time. Old adage: think before you speak, and then speak all you want.

    August 22, 2007 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
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