August 11th, 2008
01:45 PM ET
6 years ago

Clinton aide: If affair pushed Edwards out, she would have won

Clinton is stumping for Obama – but aides still wonder what might have been.
Clinton is stumping for Obama – but aides still wonder what might have been.

(CNN) – If reporters had nabbed former presidential candidate John Edwards lying about his extramarital affair, Hillary Clinton would have captured the Democratic presidential nomination, her former communications director said.

"I believe we would have won Iowa, and Clinton today would therefore have been the nominee," Howard Wolfson told ABCNews.com in an interview released Monday, because internal campaign polling showed "our voters and Edwards voters were the same people. They were older, pro-union. Not all, but maybe two-thirds of them would have been for us and we would have barely beaten Obama."

iReport.com: Share your thoughts on the Edwards scandal

Two months after Edwards first denied rumors of the affair, Barack Obama's win in the Iowa caucuses - and Clinton's third-place showing behind Edwards - fundamentally altered the shape of the race.

"Any of the campaigns that would have tried to push that [rumor] would have been burned by it," said Wolfson, who said he did not understand why, in his view, the national media had not aggressively reported the story. "I can't say I understand the rules of the media and I'm not sure they do either."

Clinton officials have long blamed the media for her failure to live up to pre-vote expectations.

Obama's campaign has disputed the idea that Edwards voters were natural Clinton voters if he were to exit the race, pointing to the fact that once the former North Carolina senator dropped out, Obama immediately went on to a string of victories, racking up 11 in a row. They also say that anti-war liberals in Iowa would not have supported Clinton, given her vote authorizing the use of force in Iraq.

The available numbers tend to argue against Wolfson's point of view, says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.

Among Edwards voters in Iowa, CNN polling indicated that Obama was the second choice of 43 percent, and Clinton of 24 percent, with 11 percent naming other candidates.

"Since Edwards got 30 percent of the vote, we can estimate that if Edwards had not been in the race, Obama would have picked up an additional 13 percentage points, and Clinton would have picked up an additional 7 percentage points," says Holland. "So hypothetically, if Edwards had not been in the race, Obama would have still won the Iowa caucuses by a 51 to 37 percent margin."


Filed under: Hillary Clinton
soundoff (288 Responses)
  1. Michelle, PA

    Let's see...when exactly did Edwards drop out of the race? And when did Obama rack up the dlegate lead in the states Hillary thought were beneath her notice? You know, all those caucus states who shouldn't count? And when did Obama clinch the nomination? Where were those Edwards voters who wanted Hillary in February, March, April, May......???

    Face it, if a lot of things had been different Hillary would have won. They weren't different, and she didn't win. That's life.

    August 11, 2008 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  2. Mike - Texas

    So there truely was a media conspirasy to keep Hillary from winning the nomination!!!!!

    Just another reason not to trust the media.

    August 11, 2008 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  3. Ben

    Get over it.

    August 11, 2008 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  4. Tim from Buffalo

    Wow, I can't believe Wolfson is arguing directly against all polling numbers. Hillary could have won, if she'd have been smart enough not to hire these idiots who believe whatever they want regardless of the evidence.

    August 11, 2008 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  5. James

    One word.

    TACKY.

    If this is not the sign of a sore looser who would say or do anything, I don't know what is.

    This goes on the list with saying that she should be the nominee because "hard working white Americans" won't vote for Obama.

    Another word.

    DISGUSTING.

    August 11, 2008 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  6. Charlotte

    Shoulda-coulda-woulda, didn't. Get over it. Do you people care more about the country or getting in your persnickety "I-told-you-sos"? This behavior is DAMAGING, to your own cause and to everyone else. Knock it off.

    August 11, 2008 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  7. StLouisMan

    'Mike, TX August 11th, 2008 10:21 am ET.
    Hillary did win. Count the popular votes. She was cheated out of the nomination by moveon.org, Coward Dean, Nancy Pelosi and Reid."

    Popular vote doesn't win the national election nor the Democratic nomination–stop trying to change the rules!

    August 11, 2008 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  8. Mike

    OMG. I was for Hillary at first, but this is the kind of stuff that turned me off. LET IT GO!

    August 11, 2008 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  9. Michael "C" Lorton, Virginia

    If reporters had nabbed former presidential candidate John Edwards lying about his extramarital affair, Hillary Clinton would have captured the Democratic presidential nomination, her former communications director said. All I can say to that comment is it is "the pot calling the kettle black!" Hillary and Bill Clinton have enough skeletons in their political closets that even his library could not store it......What a stupid statement..

    August 11, 2008 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  10. Brenda of Saginaw ,Michigan

    "IF"
    If people in hell could get ice water, if Eve did not eat the apple,if Bill had not been with the other woman,if the slave ships had sunk,if Obama was white,if fat meat was not greasey. IF ,IF,IF.

    August 11, 2008 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  11. Super D

    Go Clinton, make a mess of this Obama ignormania.

    Take it to the floor and let the robots sweat so much that they look like a rusted Tin Man in Wizard of Oz.

    Obama is a media clown and that's all he is. He can't run a lemonade stand.

    August 11, 2008 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  12. Saad from NJ

    Could have, should have, would have..... what's the point of this argument on this subject!!! More useful could have, would have, should have argument would be what is we had taken precautionary measures to prevent energy crises, sub-prime mortgages, what if we had done due diligence on Iraq before going to the war etc etc etc!!!!!

    Really, what the point!!

    August 11, 2008 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  13. jfs Memhis, Tn

    Obama would have still won....Would of, Should of, Could of never alters history. Maybe Obama would have done better in New Hampshire and California ???? This is really not a viable argument . He may ver well have done better in Nevada also.

    August 11, 2008 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  14. Tom Williams

    HILLARY, FOR GOODNESS SAKE, GO FOR THE EDWARDS' VOTES AT THE DEM CONVENTION. YOU CAN NOW WIN THE NOMINATION.

    AND, I DON'T SUPPORT YOU WOULD CONSIDER EDWARDS FOR YOUR VEEP???

    August 11, 2008 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  15. Freida, NYC

    I agree with Clinton's Aide! I wonder if Obama had an affair too!? Hope we find out before the convention.

    Hillary 2008/2012

    August 11, 2008 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  16. McFly

    "The other day, I was hanging a clock in my bathroom when I slipped and hit my head on the toilet. When I woke up I drew THIS – the Flux Capacitor!"

    Yo' Billary ... I already saw this movie ...

    August 11, 2008 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  17. Tim

    I love all these people here who agree with this idiot. If anyone actually remembers, Edwards dropped out of the race right at its early stages, and Obama went on to win 11 IN A ROW. I highly doubt that can be explained any other way other than him being the better candidate. Get over it. You lost. Move on. How hard is that you bitter old crones?

    August 11, 2008 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  18. Nick

    I agree with Wolfson. In Iowa Edwards had a huge advantage and took away many votes from Clinton. He retained all his support from 2004 when he got 2nd. Essensially he had been campaigning there for 4 years straight. Also he took alot of the Kerry backers, as there was a notion there that had the 2004 ticket been reversed, the democrats would have won. Edwards had an artifitial advantage in Iowa, and constituency that was identical to Hillary's. Had Edwards been forced to drop out, many of the Unions would have backed Hillary and Edwards constituency would have broke roughly two thirds for Hillary, and won her Iowa. This momentum would have increased her margins in NH and NV and carried her to Super Tuesday. Obama won because of Axelrod and Ploufe and a perfect storm caused by Edwards.

    August 11, 2008 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  19. Dem4Life

    The sad part of this whole thing is you people claim you are democrats. This is what put Bush in power in the first place, our division. Obama's and Clintons view differ very little but yet you all are becoming these bitter conspiracy theorists as to why she lost. When people say they are going to vote for John Mccain because Hillary is not in it are selfish and are not thinking about their kids , only themselves.

    August 11, 2008 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  20. Oh Meee Oh My

    Well, the only reason Senator Obama is not doing better in the poles is because of festering prejudice that still exits in this country. They forget that his mother's side of the family was WHITE, which makes him half WHITE. The people of Iowa voted for Obama because they got to know him and wanted CHANGE in this nation and we need it bad!

    For the record, McBush is not change he is just set in his Mcwar ways, and has a bad attitude about life in general...Like most repubs.

    Lastly, Hilary loss because she ran a horrible campaign and she let President Clinton out to play...nuff said!

    August 11, 2008 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  21. Hey

    Get over it Clinton. If it was meant for you to win you would have regardless. The Lord knew you didn't need to be in there so he made the final decision. You should support him instead of being a snake.

    August 11, 2008 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  22. Josie WA

    OMG ! This is ridiculous. How does she know Obama would not have won SOONER! That's my guess. The Clinton's are making fools of themselves . They show no grace. And ALL YOU CLINTONITES-put your money where your mouth is! If you each gave her a buck and 50 cents -her debt would be paid. Guess you all don't really care that much about her-do you? Or is it really ALL about YOU?

    August 11, 2008 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  23. voter

    Is this another "funny math" thing?

    UNITE DEMS!!

    August 11, 2008 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  24. give it UP!!

    Well, well....just when I thought Hillary & supporters couldn't get any more bitter and whiny....SURPRISE!!! they can!!!

    August 11, 2008 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  25. Dan, Ohio

    boo freaking hoo
    you lost.
    get over it.

    August 11, 2008 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
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