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. Caryn, WDC

    Wow...the Clinton people just don't know when to stop. It's everyone's fault but theirs. This is starting to annoy me.

    August 11, 2008 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  2. Terry From GA

    This topic is a "Huge" distraction for the Democratic party. Are we all Democrats or what? I'll say this again to all of Hillary's supporters and the PUMA's out there. Is the ultimate goal to get a Dem back in the white house? Are you willing to support Barack in Nov 2008? If the answer is "Yes", I strongly believe Hillary would receive the same support if she ran in 2012 from Barack's supporters. The bottom line is that support goes both ways in 2008 and 2012.

    August 11, 2008 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  3. CH

    The next Cafferty File should ask "who has the worst backers, Clinton or McCain?"

    August 11, 2008 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  4. Anonymous

    " IF" people in hell could get ice water ,If Hillarys husband had left the other woman alone, if the slave ships had sunk,if Eve had not eaten the apple,if fat meat was not greasey. IF,IF,IF. I Obama was a white man would she be saying IF.

    August 11, 2008 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  5. Alberta

    I think Clinton's aid need to let go of the fact that she is not the nominee. They need to focus on on getting a Democrate in the office.

    Everything happens for a reason. They should let it go!

    August 11, 2008 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  6. Thomas

    Thanks goodness, the press did not learn the truth about Edwards.

    August 11, 2008 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  7. Franky, New York, NY

    Oh don't even remind me...the idea of Hillary for President again, actually arises my interests in what is otherwise a sham of an election between Obama and McCain..

    If only..

    August 11, 2008 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  8. Rudy NYC

    This latest shows where real loyalties lie. Clinton, DNC, USA, or self.

    August 11, 2008 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  9. Cosmic Hillary Supporter!

    Pencil yourself in Hillary....you are the only wo(man) for the job!

    August 11, 2008 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  10. BHO Not my candidate

    Hillary, be frank blame the media.. they hid this from the populous....

    August 11, 2008 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  11. gluv

    iowa is irrelevent EVEN if hillary won iowa, she still would of lost because of the 12 win streak during the entire month of feburary...edwards was already OUT the picture by that time

    if hillary can let it go, then these crybaby supporters should as well...it's done, she lost.

    August 11, 2008 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  12. A-Man

    Hillary and the Media's desire to create a story are giving the world a headache. They both have said if Obama was not black it would not have been a race. Reality is if Hillary was not a woman and Bill's wife no one would even know her name. Her only real claim to politics is being his wife, it has gotten her everything. People of the US do the world a favor and vote Obama.

    August 11, 2008 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  13. Generation X

    Howard Wolfson is just blowing in the wind. Why are we still talking about the Clintons. If, Hillary plans on doing anything in the future, she needs to get her people in check; starting with Wolfson and Rendell.

    August 11, 2008 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  14. Rob S.C.

    Wolfson's back! What a joke. If Edwards had not been in the race, Clinton would have been destroyed by Obama far earlier in the primary.

    August 11, 2008 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  15. Willow, from Iowa

    No, if Edwards had been out of the primary in Iowa, HRC would still have come in second! Not first. Obama was first. the people in my state did not want HRC.

    And I am reading that privately, among her friends and acquaintances, HRC is still saying Obama is not good enough to be Pres. She's trying to stab him in the back before the convention. Nice going, HRC, we knew you couldn't do it.

    August 11, 2008 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  16. John

    Boo hoo, would-could-shouldas don't win elections.

    August 11, 2008 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  17. Jeff Brown

    GET OVER IT!!!!!

    August 11, 2008 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  18. Tim

    Go ahead and blame everyone but yourself for why Hillary lost. You'll never understand that the majority of people will not elect another Clinton to office. She may have captured the nomination, but it would have killed the democrats chances at winning the white house. Give it up Wolfson.

    August 11, 2008 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  19. Straightopinion2008

    It is so stupid not given Obama well deserved credit for the wonderful campaing he and his team ran!

    Prehaps the new qualifing question for the candidates should be: Have you ever committed adultery?

    I guess you dare not because so many of you out are unbelievable HYPOCRITES! You will always find a new excuse for not voting for the person who is qualified in every respect. I guess even if God transforms himself to humanbeing that does not look like the previous presidents of USA, he will still not be good enough for these group of Americans!

    August 11, 2008 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  20. StLouisMan

    Please, Hillary just give it up! I have anews flash for you: YOU LOST–GIVE IT UP! You are looking so bad because of all this!

    August 11, 2008 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  21. Why????

    Hillary this, Hillary that, she must have promised all these strong supporters a top job in the White House. Let it rest people. Mr. Obama won this race fair and square. What about the 18 + supporters that voted for Mr. Obama? I guess we don’t MATTER. If Hillary have any chance of running in 2016 she needs to think real hard about this year; because this is one year that will never be FORGOTTEN.

    August 11, 2008 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  22. Jim

    Hey, if about a million people dropped dead tomorrow, I'd be the King of England.

    I was an Edwards supporter who gave Obama a closer look– and eventually my full support– when it became clear that Edwards wasn't going to be the nominee. I chose to support Obama initially because he WASN'T Clinton. I suspect that most Edwards supporters came to the same decision.

    Meanwhile, back in reality, Clinton lost because she ran a crappy campaign chock full of poor decisions. To suggest anything else is quite simply delusional.

    August 11, 2008 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  23. Gary Chandler in Canada

    Why does an illicit affair end Edward's political career? Because she wasn't rich? An illicit affair bank rolled McCain's career!!?
    (Oh, if you say it was because Edwards lied about it, well that was one lie by Edwards, compared to dozens by McCain.)

    August 11, 2008 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  24. Brian

    It is appalling to me that this campaign and their supporters wouldn't bow out gracefully after the race was officially conceded to the Obama campaign. Worse yet, months later they are still speculating all of the things that might have happened to allow Hillary to win. How pathetic, you lost; game over; move on. How is this process even remotely productive to the goal of electing a Democrat to the White House?

    August 11, 2008 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  25. Jill American

    Think about it .. mainstream news is control by the Republicans who wanted anybody but Hillary to run against. Do you think they care about Elizabeth's feelings?

    Second – as far as it being a private matter ... he was running for the most powerful position in the world and knew something like this would end it and he still did it. Serious lack of judgement .. that's why we need to know ... but spare me the details.

    August 11, 2008 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
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