May 10th, 2009
11:23 PM ET
5 years ago

Will the public turn on Elizabeth Edwards?

WASHINGTON (CNN) – She’s lost her first born child, continues to battle cancer, suffered through coping with her husband’s extramarital affair, and been an integral part of two unsuccessful presidential campaigns.

But notwithstanding all of the sympathy from voters built up in favor of Elizabeth Edwards, two reporters suggested Sunday that the famous political spouse’s current media blitz could bankrupt her goodwill with the American public.

“She was painted as this martyr figure,” CNN American Morning Entertainment Reporter Lola Ogunnaike said on CNN’s Reliable Sources.“

“They had what seemed to be this ideal marriage. And it turns out that she was complicit in basically this cover- up. She knew all along that he'd had an affair, that he cheated on her, and decided that they would go along with this massive cover-up, and she ultimately decided that his political career was worth more than being honest.” Ogunnaike added.

Washington Post reporter Lois Romano said Mrs. Edwards recent efforts to rehash her husband’s extramarital affair in multiple interviews and her forthcoming book is filling some sort of need but is risky.

“There's clearly something in her personality that is pushing her to get the last word,” said Romano. “I think she is at risk of diminishing her own stature. I mean, people held her up as the soul of this relationship, and now she's turned it into a spectacle again,” Romano also said.

Romano also suggested that Mrs. Edwards’ book tour might backfire. “Well, I think what we're going to see here is we're going to see the curve of the public follow us [the media]. Right now . . . the public is still generally in support of her,” Romano said. “Let's see what happens after two weeks of this.”

Elizabeth Edwards’ upcoming book, “Resilence,” touches on learning that her husband, former Democratic presidential hopeful John Edwards, had carried on an affair with videographer Rielle Hunter.

"After I cried and screamed, I went to the bathroom and threw up," Edwards writes of her reaction when her husband told her about the affair in late 2006, soon after he announced his second presidential bid.

In a recently aired interview on “Oprah,” John Edwards said he wasn't sure whether his wife would leave him after he admitted to the affair.

"I didn't know, I think the honest truth is that I didn't know what she would do," he said. “I don't think anybody knows when they go through something like this."

Edwards also said he and his wife are "are getting to a good place." But he added, "It's not over."

One issue the Edwardses have apparently yet apparently to completely confront is whether a child resulted from the affair. Asked about Hunter’s daughter, a toddler, Elizabeth Edwards told Oprah Winfrey she did not know whether her husband was the baby’s father.

“I've seen a picture of the baby,” Elizabeth Edwards told the media mogul. “I have no idea. It doesn't look like my children. But, I don't have any idea.”

The Edwardses also recently acknowledged a pending federal investigation into payments by the former candidate's political action committee to a production company owned by Hunter.

In a statement recently given to several news organizations, including to CNN, John Edwards for the first time acknowledged the ongoing federal probe, but would provide no further details.

"I am confident that no funds from my campaign were used improperly," Edwards said in the statement. "However, I know that it is the role of government to ensure that this is true. We have made available to the United States both the people and the information necessary to help get the issue resolved efficiently and in a timely manner."

A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office in North Carolina refused to confirm or deny any ongoing investigation.

It is a federal crime to knowingly use money from a political action committee for personal use.

soundoff (134 Responses)
  1. B in Denver

    The story says, "She knew all along that he'd had an affair, that he cheated on her, and decided that they would go along with this massive cover-up, and she ultimately decided that his political career was worth more than being honest." I guess this means she has all the tools to be our next Secretary of State.

    May 11, 2009 01:37 am at 1:37 am |
  2. Dazed

    This is the best Dems can do to prop up their guy? Chastise his poor long-suffering wife for being angry and needing to vent?

    This is a poorly thought out attempt at misdirection by implying that people will eventually turn on Elizabeth. We are not fooled or distracted by their dog & pony show. There will be no backlash against Elizabeth and I find it reprehensible that someone could actually suggest such a thing with a straight face.

    For Romano to say that Elizabeth is making a spectacle of the relationship is revolting and ingenuous, especially when compared to the spectacle Edwards & his mistress have created. That distraction technique might have had a shot in hell of working IF Edwards was not such a hypocritical, sanctimonious {bleep}. As it stands though, Edwards is repugnant and apparently Elizabeth has come to that conclusion as well. Good for her.

    May 11, 2009 01:38 am at 1:38 am |
  3. Anonymous

    Could just be – regardless of how CNN tries to sweeten and light her past "contributions" to a very unimpressed world – that Elizabeth Edwards had long past used up her own 15 minutes of "fame" – all of it born upon her in privileged a manner while riding on the coat-tails of her very really flawed husband.

    Could it be that the public does not need the press reminding us how unimpressed we REALLY are in regard to how Elizabeth Edwards chooses to handle herself in light of her husband's sexual relationship (which has produced a most probably love child). Lying and covering up these actions of one's spouse – while you are benefitting personally for all of those lies and coverups is not very becoming of you, Mrs. Edwards.

    Sweeten and light YOURSELF UP, Mrs. Edwards. This book was a waste of your time and anyone's money in regard to purchasing. YOU should have spent your time in intensive ongoing counseling in regard to your own (not anyone else's) multitude of "issues".

    May 11, 2009 01:55 am at 1:55 am |
  4. Ron

    I don't think any man should cheat on his wife, But things were quiet, I THOUGHT they were rebuilding! Now she comes out with a book and starts it all over again? Imagine how humiliating it is for her children!
    Not a good move for her to make!!

    May 11, 2009 02:17 am at 2:17 am |
  5. Barbara Stalion

    Come on... Elizabeth Edwards deserves a place in heaven for staying with the bum who cheated on her while she was fighting the battle of her life (cancer). Her husband is a dog.

    May 11, 2009 02:19 am at 2:19 am |
  6. Dave NYC

    I don't know what's worse: a cruel public turning on Elizabeth Edwards for petty reasons, or a couple of armchair psychologists making headlines trying to psychoanalyze her.

    May 11, 2009 02:56 am at 2:56 am |
  7. Sherry

    I think whatever "spin" the media puts on Elizabeth Edwards and her book is what people will believe. I admire Elizabeth Edwards for having the guts to write about something so personal and so very humiliating. Senator Edwards chose to disregard his wife's feeling about running for President after she found out about his affair, so he should just allow her to express her feeling in whatever manner she feels able. I question why the two reporters seem to have empathy for Riedele Hunter and apparent disdain for Elizabeth Edwards. I'd love to know what outlet those two reporters would use if they walked in Elizabeth Edwards' shoes. Usually best NOT to be too critical of another unless you have walked a mile in their shoes.

    May 11, 2009 02:58 am at 2:58 am |
  8. redplanet

    Of course the public will turn on her. We play 'blame the victim' very well here in the U.S.

    May 11, 2009 03:21 am at 3:21 am |
  9. Petra Meyer

    When I first heard about Elizabeth Edwards' book, I had to wonder how her kids felt about it.

    May 11, 2009 04:02 am at 4:02 am |
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