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. Cathy

    Woulda...Coulda....Shoulda..... Come on....can't people just stop with the "What ifs...." already.

    What if Clinton had run a better campaign...What if Hillary didn't use Bill...What if Hillary didn't under estimate the caucus states....what if...what if...what if...

    Obama will be our Democratic nominee and all Obama and Hillary supporters need to rally around Obama so the Democratic can get the White House back and get America back on track.

    August 11, 2008 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  2. Steve

    I love watching the Democratic party implode on itself. The fact that the Clintons are the reason just makes it that much sweeter.

    August 11, 2008 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  3. judyb

    All of Edward's supporters got on Barack's band wagon...good try CNN!

    August 11, 2008 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  4. steve

    i'm sure dick gephardt and chris dodd and lieberman and kucinich are all wondering what could have been too... but they don't get front page for still being bitter about it do they?

    ron paul in '08!

    August 11, 2008 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  5. MaggotBrain

    If I'd have studied more in school, I would have made straight A's

    August 11, 2008 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  6. georgia

    May be you would have won if Bill didn't sleep around so much !!
    Or if the sky weren't bue !!
    What if,What if !!!!
    GET OVER THE LOSS DUE TO SHODDY CAMPAIGNING !!!!!!!!

    August 11, 2008 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  7. carolflowery

    i totally agree with this, she definitely would have won, and in fact she did

    August 11, 2008 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  8. Jos/TN

    there are so many ifs, if America, didn't have certain past practice i would have ran for president years ago

    August 11, 2008 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  9. fred

    oh my gosh, get over it already

    August 11, 2008 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  10. anonymous

    Ed in Santa Fe, remember that when your BOY loses in November.

    August 11, 2008 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  11. Sara McAtee

    ...P.U.M.A.!

    We want Hilary, and we will NOT SETTLE for Obama.

    No Hilary, no vote. The DFL Can blame themselves for Rigging the primaries when they lose the Election.

    Themselves, and ONLY themselves; you can't expect us to vote for someone we don't believe in.

    Sara

    August 11, 2008 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  12. Andrew

    Woulda coulda, shoulda, shut up Wolfson, and go and crawl under a rock somewhere while you are getting paid by by Fix News, you and Penn screwed the Clinton campaign, herself did a good job at it too. Stop blemming others for your mistakes. Sore loser

    August 11, 2008 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  13. PUMA4Ever

    I believe it!

    August 11, 2008 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  14. Beverly, NYC

    Once again it's all about her. If ,If, If. How about some personal responsibility had you run a better campaign, reduced the inner circle of chiefs, and paid attentention to all states whether they were caucus or not you would not have been beaten by a rookie. This was not your first time in the presidential primary tent. Admit it your EGO got away with you, and you LOST. Time to stop pointing finger and whining. How are your ardent supporters supposed to move on if you won't?

    August 11, 2008 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  15. Never Barak Obama

    no worries – her delegates will vote for her at the convention, you wait and see. Obama keep ignoring Hillary and your going to regret it come election time.

    August 11, 2008 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  16. JD

    Wow, such unvarnished hatred from the Obamanation! Take note HRC supporters; you are the wrong sort of democrat in your own party.

    August 11, 2008 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  17. Lost Home/Can't Afford Gas/Family Going Hungry

    People who have 'bad talked' the Clintons just won't get it. Peace, prosperity in the 90's and respect of the International community. That's why we elected Bill and for Hillary to stand by him and this country showed the World her character, focus and this past year and half, her dedication to what's good for America.

    Obama supporters, Reid, Pelosi and 'Yeehaw' Dean think they can dictate who we get as a President. They've all changed the Democratic Party to the Dictatorship Party.

    Again, if Obama selects Hillary, he wins. If not, McCain gives us 4 yrs (God Willing) of what we could have seen in 2000.

    August 11, 2008 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  18. Anonymous

    Clinton should get a life ! If, if, if, the fact of the matter is : She LOST, square and plain.

    August 11, 2008 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  19. Stop the Madness!!!

    Clinton is stumping for Obama – but aides still wonder what might have been-Barack Obama's win in the Iowa caucuses and Clinton's third-place showing behind Edwards
    Check it out –Without Edwards Obama Wins Iowa......Hillary 2nd Place ..are sure that Edwards voters would have voted for Hillary ?
    Obama immediately went on to a string of victories, racking up 11 in a row. the anti-war liberals in Iowa would not have supported Clinton, given her vote authorizing the use of force in Iraq.
    Hillary aides need to shut the H_LL up and move on !!!!
    STOP WHINING !!!!

    August 11, 2008 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  20. PG

    I'm still waiting to hear how Hillary's campaign bombed out because she had incompetent people run it. Enough with the excuses.

    August 11, 2008 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  21. Mauri

    It's common when a scandal breaks to go back and indulge onself in a string of "what-ifs." So in this case, the Clinton supporters, and Hillary herself, do not deserve the hateful retorts that so many Obama people continue to heap on her. One would think that since Obama himself holds Hillary and her husband (and his former staff), his supporters would be more charitable. Nothing will change that, however, and so the beat goes on.

    August 11, 2008 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  22. HaHa

    Oh please us a break already. The old gray mair lost ok, the race is over and she did not win. People have left the track. Its over, get over it. Quit whining and move on with your life. Stop count to 10 take a couple of deep breaths and repeat after me, "It will be ok, life will go on without Hillary. She lost and we can not bring the vote back.".

    August 11, 2008 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  23. McCain:SmallWeakCowardlyMan OffersMoreOfTheSame TearsOthersDownToBuildHimselfUp

    Come on all you loonies! Let's hear about the "conspiracy" between Obama, Edwards and the DNC. You all really need to get a life ... and fast. While you're at it, maybe you can start donating big time to help Hillary pay off her debt. That would be step one in YOUR Clinton cocktail drinking cult-like recovery!

    August 11, 2008 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  24. Herman in LA

    The real losers are the media... Leave it alone...

    August 11, 2008 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  25. Frantz from Atlanta

    Fair point! But they need to get over it!

    August 11, 2008 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
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