May 11th, 2009
02:20 PM ET
9 years ago

Elizabeth Edwards responds to critics

Elizabeth Edwards has taken heat for not urging her husband to drop his presidential bid.

Elizabeth Edwards has taken heat for not urging her husband to drop his presidential bid.

(CNN) - Elizabeth Edwards is responding to a wave of criticism in recent days over the fact she did not forcefully urge her husband to exit the presidential race upon learning of his affair with a campaign staffer, saying Monday she was not aware of the extent of the indiscretion.

"When I found out and for a large part of writing the book, I only knew about a single night," she said in an appearance on NBC's Today Show. "A single moment of weakness. Though it was difficult to accept, most of us who seek to lead and most everybody who seeks to be led have moments of weakness in their lives and I did not think that was a fatal flaw and I was wrong."

The comments come days after Mrs. Edwards revealed in a new book out last week she first learned her husband, former presidential candidate John Edwards, had an affair with a former campaign staffer in 2006. The former presidential candidate told his wife about the affair only days after he formally launched his presidential bid in late December of 2006.

Despite his infedelity, the Edwardses decided to press on with the presidential campaign and Mrs. Edwards often served as a vigorous advocate for her husband's character in the months that followed - a fact many in the media have since criticized.

"She ended up going along, helping sell the voters on her husband's character as a truth teller and charm as a loving husband and father," New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd recently wrote. "She had put so many quarters in the shiny slot machine of their mutual ambition."

But in the interview Monday, Mrs. Edwards suggested she would likely not have supported her husband's second attempt at the White House had she known more details of the affair that have since come to light.

"I probably would have been more adamant about him not running than I was," she said. "The whole time he was running I only knew about this one thing."

Programming Note: Watch Elizabeth Edwards' exclusive interview on CNN's Larry King Live at 9 p.m. Eastern time Tuesday night.

Filed under: Elizabeth Edwards
soundoff (100 Responses)
  1. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    Mrs. Edwards should have stayed away from writing a book and out of the media about the affair. It was wrong and I don't think her husband has been completely honest with her.

    May 11, 2009 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  2. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    This story is getting blown wayout of proportion. The only relevant thing I need to know is if former Sen. Edwards used campaign money to keep his mistress quiet. Besides for that, this should be a matter between the Edwards' and not for the public do make a debacle out of.

    May 11, 2009 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  3. Mississippi Mike

    She lied to cover up the fact that he is so untrustworthy that he fathered a child with another woman while she was suffering through cancer treatments. Both her and her husband should be banned from politics for the rest of their lives.

    May 11, 2009 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  4. The Party of NO stood calmly by for 8 year while the shrub raped and pillaged America, so, why would we listen to you now?

    Edwards had an affair with another woman!

    He is not a serial murderer.

    With the divorce rate over 50% he is certainly not the first.

    McCain had an affair with Cindy while his first wife was near death from a car crash!

    Reminder: McCain was the republican candidate, why is everyone trying to crucify Edwards?

    Those without fault...

    May 11, 2009 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  5. Lauren

    >>>>Despite his infedelity, the Ewdardses decided to press on with >>>>the presidential campaign and Mrs. Edwards often served as a >>>>vigorous advocate for her husband's character in the months >>>>that followed — a fact many in the media have since criticized.

    THIS is TOTAL crap. The media trying to tear this woman down. What about Hillary??? They put her and Bill on a darn pedestal. They ran her for President. And she KNEW about every stinking one of his affairs. And probably a few she did not know about. Bill Clinton was a dog, and she backed him up for her OWN agenda. Hillary was then, and still is a disgrace to faithfully married woman all over the country. Standing by her man even after he job the cigar treatment.
    But yet, did the media attack Hillary,,, NO. They worshipped her. So tell me why is Edwards and different???? Tell me.

    May 11, 2009 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  6. muffy

    I wish people would leave Elizabeth alone. I have never, thank God, been in her position but I think if I had been I would have been a lot more vituperative than she. I can't even imagine, a woman with terminal cancer, two small children and then finds out the man she has been married to for 30 years is having an affair..In my opinion John Edwards is pond scum and Elizabeth is an angel. I pray for her and admire her so much.

    May 11, 2009 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  7. Franky

    You know, I'll follow with that criticism...

    I don't what she's doing with her new book and promoting every damn corner on T.V, IO have a problem with that. I'm not saying she doesn't have a right to write a book or talk about her relationship about her husband, i ain't saying that BUT what I am saying is that she is using propaganda to promote her book...let's be fair, she's nice, clam, patient, respectful, sweet, etc, she's the good one, let's just say. Whether whatever the heck is on her book is on her own, I ain't gonna read a book on some people's relationship, I ain't gonna read a damn book so I can find out how she feels, I don't got time for that crap...but then again, I've showed my stance on people writing books for that matter.

    She is sick, why is she putting herself like that? Do they need money?? Do they need comfort?? Or does she frankly need, some caring or intimacy? Guess what guys? I caught a tale already, she ain't satisfied or happy with what's going on, she does in fact want to get it all out but I will give her props, she does sound contrite and understanding, she is speaking like she's supposed to speak BUT why is she going this far? Did it really hurt her? Or is this a way to get some stress out? Or for that matter, good therapy for her for talking?

    Be honest Mrs. Edwards, you are an ill woman who went through a lot, I give you props for standing up to yourself, I really do and for speaking profoundly, I do. But you don't need this, you don't need for other people to understand how you feel, when in reality, we know enough...

    May 11, 2009 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  8. marvinj

    Is this public outrage or media hype. This story does nothing to feed my kids or help me in my job search.

    May 11, 2009 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  9. Eric Roberts

    I think most of the country agrees with her. I don;t think that should have excluded him from the White House. Unfortuantely we have the American Taliban and thier medieval values system that barks like a chihuahua and goes after meaningless (on a public scale) issues like this instead of attacking real issues that face this country. They are more intersted in tabloid politics than they are in improving the lives of the citizens of this country. I think most people, other than our usual morbid interests of course, could really care less about who's doing who as long as they are doing thier job and doing it effectively. During the issues that President Clinton had, my thought was I could really careless if he was bopping Monica. That was an issue between him and Hillary. If she was fine with it, then so was I. Even if she wasn't, that was an issue between the 2 of them and not between him and the country.

    I hope you and John can work things out and get through this difficult time in your relationship. We are only human and we do have weaknesses. The best we can do is to forgive and work on letting the love repair the trust. I think John is a good man and I would have been proud to call him president or vice president.

    May 11, 2009 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  10. phoenix86

    Mrs. Edwards stayed with John for the same reason Hillary stayed with Bill...power.

    May 11, 2009 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  11. paula Wesley

    She didn't want to give up her status and lifestyle. That's why she didn't talk. She needs to fix herself up. She looks like his mother. Men like attractive women.

    May 11, 2009 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  12. Richie

    muffy - "I wish people would leave Elizabeth alone."

    If she wanted to be left alone, she probably shouldn't have published a book and gone on a book tour. You can't have it both ways.

    May 11, 2009 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  13. Pat in IL

    It is beyond me that some reporter's speculation about what might happen could be reported as news. Also, that anybody would even bother to take it at all seriously. All the sudden, just because some idiot said something like "there might be a downside to this....", it is being treated like it's something real or important. Leave Elizabeth alone. She needs to have her say, and what's it to the media or public anyway? The only thing we should be concerned about is the use of campaign funds.

    May 11, 2009 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  14. hrc2016

    Laren – Chill out girl.

    Hillary was praised for the strength and grace she showed while her and her husband were the targets of a 73 million dollar political witch-hunt led by Ken Starr.

    May 11, 2009 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  15. Matt

    No one is bothering Elizabeth, on the contrary she is bothering the public with her story. It is what it is and nothing she says changes that. Except now she is putting herself in the same light as he put himself in.

    Amazing what we willingly do to ourselves.

    May 11, 2009 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  16. Brad - Ohio

    It is very sad that the hate-filled Limbaugh/Hannity crowd chooses to keep this story alive as Mrs. Edwards slowly succumbs to terminal cancer. The presidential campaign is history, as is Edwards' political career. Done. No longer news. Grow up righties, and show a little dignity for a change.

    May 11, 2009 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  17. paula Wesley

    All cheaters-Roosevelt-Kennedy, Johnson, Clinton–All cheated on their wives.

    May 11, 2009 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  18. Joe - Wilmington, DE

    Zeal for prestige and power causes some to put up with vile behavior. Just look at Hillary Clinton.

    May 11, 2009 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  19. hsmith

    Leave this poor woman alone! She is in extremely poor health battling terminal cancer. She has children for whom she must care and must deal with an unfaithful, lying husband daily. In addition, she has lost her dream of helping to lead the country and must make a plan for the future of her children. The blame must lie with John Edwards, not Elizabeth.

    May 11, 2009 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  20. Democrat no more

    Oh and worse is now we find out the his presidential campaign workers knew about it as well and ONLY if he looked like he would win the nomination would they sabatoge his campaign.

    All is ok as long as they can earn a paycheck for as long as possible, deceive Americans, TAKE THEIR MONEY and ruin the chance of having a good president, as long as they wait to final days to speak up?

    And better yet. We will never know if Elizabeth is beiing honest...or how much honesty is in her words, but if John did father the child with Rielle, that means he was sleeping with her DURING THE CAMPAIGN in 2007, which is probably how his campaign workers knew about the affair, with our contributions, finding ways to have his affair, put her up in North Carolina as he did and continued the affair AFTER he told his wife about it....if he indeed did tell her in December 2006.

    Well, I'm right there with you Rielle. Get that paternity test. They are deserving of the outcome.

    May 11, 2009 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  21. Joy

    I can only repeat what Jesus told the crowd which was going to stone the prostitute – "he who is without sin, cast the first stone". Think what a much kinder world would be if we always had this thought before opening our mouths.

    May 11, 2009 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  22. Scrpbkmom

    The fact that she has stayed with him despite being cheated on and publicly humiliated completely discredits anything she she has to say about the whole ordeal. He had an ongoing relationship with another woman, and most likely fathered a child with that woman...I understand Ms. Edwards is battling cancer, and I'm very sorry for that, but LEAVE him. She needs positive influences in her life right now. If she chooses to stay with her sorry excuse for a husband, then she deserves the heartache and public criticism that comes with that.

    May 11, 2009 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  23. Dallas, TX

    Who cares, this woman CHOSE to stay with a man who cheated on her and got caught.

    I don't really care, but please don't try to paint her as a victim, she decided of her own free will to back a man with no morals.

    So, Lizzy, you made your bed; now lie in it; if the critics are attacking you; remember you invited them into your life. Period.

    May 11, 2009 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  24. KP Atlanta

    Yeah right – self-indulgent, dishonest drivel.

    May 11, 2009 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  25. Georgia

    When it comes right down to it, HE knew what he had done. HE should never have run thinking it would never get out. What an ego! I gave some money and some of my time to his campaign because I believed in them both. I would still vote for her. Him? Never again. He's lost all credibility. He needs to keep quiet and stay out of the public eye. Everytime I see him, I cringe.

    May 11, 2009 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
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