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. Ed, Santa Fe NM

    OH BOO HOO BOO HOO....

    YOU LOST... shut up and MOVE ON

    August 11, 2008 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  2. Elizabeth

    Just goes to show you all things happen for a reason. Maybe there was some good that came out of this tragedy after all.

    August 11, 2008 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  3. J.C.

    Would have, could have....
    Hillary is into the conspiracy theory again, isn't she?
    I guess they are pressing on who kept Edwards' affair secret till now.
    There is a difference between telling lies and not volunteering facts.
    Bill Clinton is the master of it.

    August 11, 2008 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  4. pat C.

    WHY DO WE HAVE TO HEAR THIS CRAP. HILLARY CLINTON IS A THING OF THE PAST. SHE IS SO DESPARETLY TRYING TO WIGGLE HERSELF BACK INTO THE LIME LIGHT. NO SHE WOULD NOT HAVE WON! SHE IS BITTER, NEGATIVE AND HAS BILL TO DRAG AROUND HER NECK. IF SHE WANTS TO BLAME ANYONE FOR HER NOT WINNING THEN BLAME ANY OF THE ABOVE. SHE NEEDS TO GO AWAY AND STAY AWAY. WE ARE SICK OF HEARING HER WHINE OVER AND OVER AGAIN!

    August 11, 2008 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  5. Len in Washington

    "woulda, coulda, shouda........

    Life just doesn't work that way.

    August 11, 2008 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  6. ALEXANDRIA VA

    HOWARD WOLFSON IS BITTER!!!

    August 11, 2008 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  7. Jean, Indiana

    If the Edwards affair had blown up prior to Iowa, Bill Clinton's dalliances would have received renewed coverage. That would have been a big negative early on for Hillary.

    August 11, 2008 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  8. Emma, San Jose, CA

    Easy for him to say. We will never know.

    August 11, 2008 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  9. WeLuvObama

    Why can't Hillery's supporters just let it go!!!! Hillery lost because of the horrible campaign she ran and for no other reason. Gheez –you guys are a bunch of whiners and sore losers. Enough already!!!!

    August 11, 2008 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  10. Walt

    Let it go already, let it go, let it go, please let it go!!!!!

    August 11, 2008 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  11. Il voter

    In life there is no place for IFs and BUTTs. So shut up and accept what people decided for you.

    August 11, 2008 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  12. Jim

    Edwards is a slime ball,now we know why he did not stay with his with his wife when she was battling cancer! HILLARY WE LOVE YOU!!

    August 11, 2008 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  13. Bob - Maryland

    Sure - and if pigs had wings they would fly.

    August 11, 2008 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  14. Truthiswhatweneed

    You Hillary folks need to get over it and get with the program. When need to elect Obama or this counry will go to hell. Its is as simple as that. Get it together.

    August 11, 2008 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  15. Willam from Texas

    It's a pity that this didn't come out sooner. I bet all the Obamabots who wanted Edwards as Obama's VP are crapping in their pants. Goes to show they didn't know what they were talking about.

    August 11, 2008 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  16. SJ

    Get over it already.

    August 11, 2008 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  17. mwinog2777

    2×0=0.

    August 11, 2008 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  18. Boye

    Well this is news. I didn't know that Wolfson and Nostradamus were related. This guy can see into alternate realities. Yea, last I checked, more Edwards supporters flock to Obama than Hillary. But what do I know, Hillary might have won the nomination.

    August 11, 2008 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  19. Old Stradlater

    A distorted reality is now a necessity to be free.

    August 11, 2008 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  20. John

    Who's to say that Obama wouldn't have got a larger percentage of Edwards votes?

    August 11, 2008 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  21. Sweetie

    This is why we have a candidate that is not viable and will not win the General Election!

    The pupet who lost an election in a year that should have been a landslide victory for the Dems!

    It is not too late........ take it to the floor in Denver Hillary!

    August 11, 2008 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  22. Darrel from Denver

    Give it up, already!

    Woulda, shoulda, coulda.......

    Clinton lost. Get behind Obama or you are ensuring the Republicans will keep the White House, yet again.

    Does Clinton and her supporters really want that?

    Get a clue.

    August 11, 2008 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  23. Dan

    good lord, get over it.

    August 11, 2008 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  24. jim

    here we go.

    August 11, 2008 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  25. Rick

    Great. Then we would have replaced on liar with another. "When we land we were under sniper fire, blah, blah, blah ,ups... I mis- spoke

    August 11, 2008 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
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