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. checkthisout

    Do you think that Obama can now get those votes?

    I suspect he'll get some, but not all.
    That is why this race is so close and Obama could very well lose it!!!

    August 11, 2008 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  2. T

    Give it up already.....would have, should have, could have....

    You lost Hillary, put it to rest.

    August 11, 2008 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  3. Billy J -Austin-Tx

    I think he is right about the fact that most populists saw Edwards as our best chance, and Clinton as a less than perfect (NAFTA) second choice. Whether that would have changed the fact that Wolfson and his team were completely inept, and treated their job like a joke with a paycheck leading up to a coronation and thereby blowing any chance of Hillary getting the nomination, is a different matter.

    August 11, 2008 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  4. KateyGreen

    Get a life. If "ifs" and "buts" were berries and nuts, what a wonderful world this would be.

    August 11, 2008 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  5. David Goldman for OBAMA

    AND IF I WERE OBAMA, I WOULD HAVE WON.

    August 11, 2008 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  6. McCain's White House Oxygen Tank Repository

    Howard Wolfson is an incredibly bad team player. If Hillary had any kahunas she would publicly distance herself from him. Talk about sour grapes at a critical time..

    August 11, 2008 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  7. Pat Riot

    Seems like an suspicious series of events. I am not pleased with either party's efforts to influence the primay process. The Democrats are ousting their moderates and the Republicans their conservatives.

    August 11, 2008 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  8. New Yorker

    Yeah right-get real!!!!

    August 11, 2008 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  9. Don for BHO

    First blame the media as sexist, blame the DNC, blame BHO, now

    John Edwards, wow, when are you going to grow a pair and take

    responsibility. Impossible!!!

    August 11, 2008 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  10. Wanda, elgin, texas

    HERE'S TO ALL YOU CLINTON SUPPORTS: OBAMA RAN OFF HIS COAT-TAIL NOT HILLARY'S, AND IF HE LOSES SO BE IT!!!!!
    ENOUGH-IS-ENOUGH ALREADY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    August 11, 2008 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  11. Bill from Westford

    Hillary's people - and Hillary herself (calling Obama "... my 'opponent'..." instead of "... our nominee...") keep playing woulda/coulda/shoulda and re-raising self-serving versions of "If it had all been different we would have won..."

    Can you say, "President McCain"???

    August 11, 2008 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  12. Informed Voter

    LMAO .. Is this Guy Crazy???

    Hillary would have lost to a larger margin in IA & SC & definitely lost NH .. If Edwards was pushed out ......

    the nomination would have ended when Obama won the 11 straight consecutive wins

    August 11, 2008 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  13. CB2

    Let it go already! We can speculate for days on end. What if Obama was white....Hillary would have never had a chance.

    August 11, 2008 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  14. Ludovic

    sorry but this is BS
    Edward was before the Super Tuesday, and still she was not able to close the deal

    August 11, 2008 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  15. Texas trail puppy

    AND IF WISHES WERE HORSES BEGGARS SHALL RIDE, HAHAHAHA!!!!!

    August 11, 2008 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  16. Paul

    you lost. get over it HIllary!

    August 11, 2008 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  17. Monica

    Shoulda coulda woulda.

    August 11, 2008 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  18. S. Boatman

    She Still Would Have Lost! It Was The Way She Poorly Ran Her Campaign That Caused Her To Loose!

    August 11, 2008 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  19. M. Winners, Mesa, AZ

    Sometimes we really can be a nation of whiners – especially if your a sore loser like Hillary's Howard Wolfson.
    HIS campaign strategy lost it for Hillary, not Edwards and not Hillary. Cowboy up Woldson and take the blame – if your man enough. And as for you repug leaning PUMAs – Deal with it and get behind Obama. Don't cost the Dems the White House 'cause your pouting over your guy (OOPs, girl, OOPs woman, OOPs candidate) losing it...

    August 11, 2008 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  20. Value-Added Vote

    If Hillary had any kahunas, she would publicallly distance herself from Howard Wolfson. Support the team, Dems. There is just too much at stake!

    August 11, 2008 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  21. Kendall

    They just don't stop finding awful reasons to complain and whine. Give it up already, the primary is over and Obama is the nominee.

    August 11, 2008 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  22. Ricki

    Wolfson speaks like a sore loser. I'm tired of the speculation. "Hilary would have won if this happened..." "Hillary would have won if that happened..." Would her team PLEASE stop undermining the Democratic party with statements like these?

    August 11, 2008 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  23. benvictor

    Sadly, this is probably true. Goes to show the media screwed up its responsiblity being in Obama's hip pocket. Look at the spectacle in Europe with cameras and reporters in tow. Yet, this guy was voting "present" 4 years ago in the Illinois state legislature. As a Hillary Democrat, I support John McCain and the ticket.

    August 11, 2008 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  24. CNN = Jerry Springer of news

    Wow, is there no end to the continuum of excuses why Hillary the Victim lost the primaries? I can't believe I ever thought of voting for her. I am sick to death of this woman! I was really looking forward to the Democratic National Convention, even the portions involving Hillary and Bill, but now I just want it over with so we can move on with no more Clintons.

    August 11, 2008 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  25. Mimi De La Cruz, los angeles

    O LORD, LADY GIVE US A BREAK.

    AND IF I WERE MICHAEL PHELPS

    I WOULD WIN 8 OR 9 MEDALS AT THE OLYMPICS.

    August 11, 2008 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
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