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. Mary

    GET OVER IT ALREADY!!!!

    August 11, 2008 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  2. Belvie Douglas

    It was SO obvious that John Edwards was defying all LOGIC WITH THE WAY he ran his campaign, stopped his campaign, and then remained silent as to his endorsement.

    Now with all the facts available, we know why and the logic is apparent.

    He is despicable and any and all who knew that he would not be able to pursue the nomination KNEW HE WAS IN THE WAY FOR CLINTON.

    I am furious and more than ever committed to NOT vote or support Barry O.

    For all of you who had a hand in this, congratulations! You people with NO moral center have placed our country in jeopardy at the hands of McCain.

    August 11, 2008 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  3. Change

    dream dream, wake up and come to real world she lost, my one year old will tell you that.

    August 11, 2008 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  4. MD FOR OBAMA

    SHOULD'VE!COULD'VE !WOULD'VE!
    Get over yourselves. The woman lost!

    August 11, 2008 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  5. Jill American

    There was obvious friction between Elizabeth and John during the campaign. I thought it was because he was for Obama and she was for Clinton. In an interview he said that it was important for a black man to be president and said that having a woman in the white house wasn't as important. Elizabeth about took his head off and he had to adjust his answer.

    I think John had a better chance with Obama .. as did Richarson and Biden ... Clinton would have been forced to pick Obama for her running mate ... but not the other way around? hmmmm .. sexism at it's finest!

    August 11, 2008 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  6. Whining Tommy Hussein in St. Louis

    What's the use of dredging this up? Whatever happened happened, and that's the end of it.

    August 11, 2008 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  7. Salina, Washington, DC

    Clinton and her supporters will not ACCEPT DEFEAT!! Give it up losers, you lost fair and square (even with lots of help from the republicans). Obama won and will be the next president. Stop with the coulda, woulda, shoulda nonsense.

    I don't think Obama should let the Clintons speak at the convention either. He doesn't need their support. They are still trying to make this about them. The Clintons should crawl back under that rock and stay there til after the election is over.

    Obama '08/'12

    August 11, 2008 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  8. Vegas

    Just put her name on the ballot for the convention and see what happens... what's wrong with that?

    Obama is falling daily... he can't form a complete sentence without a teleprompter... he will not win... and the DNC will be to blame.

    But whatever... you all want McCain... so be it...

    August 11, 2008 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  9. Bugtussle High School

    Sounds like poetic justice of some sort.

    August 11, 2008 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  10. Dirk

    I don't know why BO supporters are so defensive over this. It's an interesting thought and worth discussing. There are so many variables with the nomination process, none more important, in my opinion, than the order of the states. Had PA and OH been two of the first 5 or 6 states, I think the process would have been over before it started and HC would be fighting McCain right now. But Obama ran the race that was in front of him and won, fairly and intelligently.

    August 11, 2008 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  11. tigerakabj

    Shoulda, coulda, woulda.... Maybe if I bought Facebook shares in 2004 I would be a millionaire today.

    I play sports. Sometimes you are within one point of winning and you end up losing, even though you gave it your very best. Been there many times. What happens when you lose? LEARN FROM IT AND MOVE ON! Whining gets you nowhere.

    Enough about the primaries. Lets focus on wiping up McSenile and take back the country.

    Obama/Sebelius 2008/2012.

    August 11, 2008 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  12. Hana

    More whining from the Clintons. For God's sake, Hillary, will you and PUMAs give it a rest. You LOST the nomination because YOU ran a terrible campaign. At what point, Hillary, do you plan to take some personal responsibility for the failure of your campaign instead of blaiming others for your shortcomings?

    August 11, 2008 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  13. ProudToBeDemocrat

    GIve me a break would of , should of , could of . Wolf are you having slow week? who cares she lost there is no if and but about it. Stop talking about big IF. It is like me saying if I would have chosen a career in politics I would have been the president of the united states by now.

    August 11, 2008 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  14. steveo

    Is this theater, who could have written so much drama? Hillary could've won because of an other mans affair? What if she lost because of her own mans Affairs?
    .

    August 11, 2008 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  15. davit

    Ugh. Hillary lost, she is back in the Senate and there is no way to prove what Wolfson is saying. Give it up already and focus on unifying behind Obama.

    August 11, 2008 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  16. Dekonti

    CNN Bloggers: If anyone thinks that Bill and Hillary Clinton want Sen. Obama to to will is living in a fantasy world. Obama won eleven straight primaries after John Edwards was out of the race.

    Hillary Clinton is still calling Sen. Obama "my opponent" in a speech before her supporter. To see so many smart people in this country put their lives on hold because of the Clintons is just inredible to me. What about the working guy who has never cheated on his wife and lied to the country? Shouldn't he have center stage rather than Bill Clinton.

    With the Clinton's, it is all political. But as I've always said, Sen. Obama will win and the USA will be better for it.

    August 11, 2008 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  17. Billy J -Austin-Tx

    Please Note Haters,

    This is not Hillary saying this, it is that dimwit she hired. I would hope my lesser employees are not used to quote ME when folks wanna know what I think.

    If you can't read enough of an article to figure out who is talking, you might think about not commenting, and proving your less than capable mental capacity.

    That said....... Go Obama.... your our only hope (and that means a LOT of hoping since I have little confidence in the guy)

    August 11, 2008 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  18. ERD in NC

    Everyone who is writing things like "Hillary–just give up" and "Hillary, face it, you lost" etc, please note that it's not actually Mrs. Clinton who is making the statements, which should be obvious. Maybe say "Howard Wolfson, just give up, Hillary lost," at least that would be factually correct.

    August 11, 2008 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  19. Greg

    Hate to ruin a good rumination, but the fact just aren't on your side. Most Edwards backers moved to Obama after he dropped out. Also many would have moved to Richardson, Biden, Dodd, et al.

    August 11, 2008 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  20. CH

    Can someone tell me why this is an issue? ITS OVER OBAMA WON! I don't care what Clinton has to say at this point, she and her husband are ego maniacs.

    August 11, 2008 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  21. NMB

    If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
    Or walk with kings–nor lose the common touch...
    Rudyard Kipling

    August 11, 2008 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  22. Upon Further Review

    Nafta lost her my vote and anyone else who sponsors it.

    August 11, 2008 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  23. A NATION OF WHINERS for OBAMA

    THERE ARE A LOT OF IFS IN THAT STORY.

    THAT IS ONLY ONE OF THEM.

    HERE ARE A FEW MORE.

    IF YOU DIDN'T OUT RIGHT LIE SO MUCH.

    IF YOU & BILL DIDN'T USE THE RACE CARD.

    IF YOU DIDN'T PRAISE THE REPUBLICANS SO MUCH.

    IF YOU DIDN'T RUN SUCH A POOR CAMPAIGN.

    IF YOU DIDN'T USE EVERY DIRTY TRICK, YOUR FRIEND

    CARL SUGGESTED. & THE LAST & MOST IMPORTANT IF,

    IF WE THOUGHT YOU WOULD SERVE ANY ONE

    ELSE OTHER THAN YOUR LOBBYISTS, BILL & YOU.

    August 11, 2008 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  24. Dekonti

    Would Bob Dole have won if Bill Clinton had admitted his affair with Monica. Did Hillary not know?

    August 11, 2008 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  25. Toronto , Canada

    If Ross Perot did not run in 1992 Bill would not be a president and therefore Hillary would not be first lady or even a presidential candidate ...................

    August 11, 2008 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
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