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. Sen. Obama

    Man, it's a good thing I didn't have an affair like John Edwards.

    August 11, 2008 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  2. Sylvia

    Now the Clinton camp is blaming John Edwards for their lost. Blame everybody but themselves. Obama should not even give HRC the spotlight at dem convention. Ridiculous!

    August 11, 2008 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  3. Robert

    Dream on!

    August 11, 2008 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  4. prairieguy

    YaWN...tired and old BS!!

    She lost...get over it already....talk about whinners and poor losers!!!

    August 11, 2008 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  5. Sophia,23-OBAMA VOTER

    And we're still talking about Clinton??? The Clinton Show was over a long time ago.......WHY WE'RE STILL TALKING ABOUT CLINTON-GET OVER IT–SHE LOST!

    August 11, 2008 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  6. Don

    Try the serenity prayer....accept the things you cannot change, change the things that you can, have the wisdom to know the difference. What is it that you don't understand?? I suppose you could also say, IF Barack Obama were not born, you could have won also,
    coulda, woulda shouda, if if if if if if.......come on, get a life.

    August 11, 2008 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  7. Bilal, Illinois

    It might also have helped to be a better candidate.

    August 11, 2008 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  8. The enlightened one

    All this IF talk will not change the fact that Obama is the nominee. Get over it Hillary lost. If Hillary and her supporters continue the way they are going, it just goes to enforce what the republicans have being crying for years that Hillary is very polarizing and any chance in 2012 will never be feasible. Be careful what you wish for cos you may have dug her grave already. Enough said

    August 11, 2008 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  9. Wiseman

    If Edward affair was reported earlier Hilary would have won
    If the media did not support Obama Hilary would have won
    if Hilary had ran a good campaign she would have won
    if I had voted for Hilary she would have won
    If Hilary did not cry in NH she would not have won
    If Bill Clinton had conducted himself well Hilary would have won
    if they were no caucaus states Hilary would have won
    If Hilary had noted against authorizing the war in Iraq she would have won
    If the weather was good Hilary would have won
    If Hilary won more delegates she would have won
    If Hilary won more super delegates she would have won
    If if if if if if if if if if if if if if if if if if if if if if if if if if if if if if if if if if if if if if if if if if if if if if if if if if if if if if if if if if if if if if if if if if if if if if if if if

    August 11, 2008 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  10. twiggy

    hilliary clinton lost because she is not the better candidate. her campaign strategy did not work, she and her team were incompetent they could not handle their finances, so how can she handle that of the nation.
    she is looking for any and every excuse to explain away her lost – instead of taking responsiblity for it.
    we see the real clintons at their best – corrupt – giving excuses – and blaming everyone else, lies lies and more lies – how sad!
    the nominee is barak obama and that is that. hilliary and her ineffective team need to move on.
    she can't be trusted and barak does not need her as his vp enough americans desire to go in the direction of change in political policies
    and getting rid of the corruption obama/08
    obama is a man, for the people the american public. he cares about our voices been heard ,not goverment red tape.

    August 11, 2008 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  11. It Be Me

    how is Edward's affairs different than Bill's? If this had come earlier, all it would have done, is stir up more of Bill's problems. and there is NO way you can say for sure that all of Edwards supporters would have been for Hillary....

    GET OVER IT ALREADY!!!

    August 11, 2008 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  12. CD

    At least CNN had the right picture of Hillary supporting Obama.

    August 11, 2008 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  13. Teresa- charlotte, nc

    Why dont you all get over ...If and but's....Get a life....Life is full of if's and but's >>Law of Gravity...It was not her season....

    August 11, 2008 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  14. Alisa--GA

    Now is that what you think?? These people need to get a life and face reality.

    August 11, 2008 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  15. Ron

    Should've, Could've, Would've – Doesn't change anything. Accept and move on.

    August 11, 2008 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  16. JA Cook

    Hilary would have won under all sorts of IF scenarios.

    The fact is she didn't and the nomination has been won fairly.

    Time to move forward and stop the Republican demolition of the US.

    August 11, 2008 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  17. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    This is beginning to sound like ones odds at winning a million dollar lottery but missed being the winner by one number. Hillary didn't win and it serves no purpose to support reasons she didn't win, it's nothing but a distraction.

    August 11, 2008 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  18. PUMA 4 HILL

    But she is quite simply and frankly the real winner. And if she had won Iowa, the Obama thugs would have done something else to steal and cheat their way to the top.

    If you don't believe what really happened just do a little research.

    August 11, 2008 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  19. Concerned Democrat

    Are you kidding??? If this, if that...is the Clinton campaign all about ifs???

    Come on now...let's start dealing with reality and the reality is that the nominee has been chosen for our party – let's move forward PLEASE!

    August 11, 2008 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  20. Jimmy in SC

    Oh dear God! Will she ever just go away!!! Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda!!! Bla Bla Bla........

    August 11, 2008 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  21. REG in AZ

    Would of, could of, should of just don't matter! Why are we again talking about Hillary in that context? It's over, lets move on!

    August 11, 2008 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  22. mc

    For those (many, many, many of you) gullable enough to beleive most everything the media says and does – go make a living and be an individual...cnn/msnbc and many others are all guilty of many biases inlcluding leading the sheep to slaughter. Rich people love you guys, it makes them richer! No go get on and get in line nod nod nod...

    August 11, 2008 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  23. Truth Be Told

    some people could not seem to help but think by looking at their rearview mirrors! it's always IF and could have been or i should have.

    IF i had only chosen the lotto numbers that came out last week, i would have won $45 million and would not be writing this blog!

    August 11, 2008 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  24. Marc in DeKalb, IL

    Sip, sip! Keep crying Clintonites, your tears are delicious!

    August 11, 2008 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  25. Sylvia

    First if all, Edwards should not even ran for President knowing what we know now about him. Was that why he was angry at times during his campaign? Did he think nobody would find out about his extra-curricular activities. He has alot of nerve!

    August 11, 2008 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
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