May 11th, 2009
02:20 PM ET
5 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. Carol

    I agee with Farrell in Tx.....she should never have written the book. Is it going to erase the infidelity? Is it going to change anything from here on out.....don't think so. Her first and foremost thought should be fighting the terminal cancer and what she can do to extend her life.....not write a book which was stressful to her and may have caused her to lose a few months of whatever time she has left. Perhaps she was doing this for the children in leaving them whatever royalties, etc. the book may have made. Personally, I'm not even interested in the book or what was told....we have all read it here on CNN and many other publications...there certainly can't be anything knew other than a different spin on the whole sad story. I think she needs to spend whatever remaining time she has with her children and take time for herself and stay out of the limelight.....she doesn't need the additional stress.

    May 11, 2009 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  2. Tulsa

    paula Wesley May 11th, 2009 12:07 pm ET

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

    +++++++++++++++++++++
    Uh, want to name a few others? Newt Gingrich for one.

    May 11, 2009 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  3. Baze

    Mr. and Mrs. Edwards are an example of tabloid drama that is plaguing America.

    May 11, 2009 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  4. New Hampshire

    Thank God John Edwards didn’t make it to the White House...we don't need another first lady like Hillary that young girls can't look up too...I guess either low self esteem or power must drive these women

    May 11, 2009 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  5. mw

    Walk a mile in her shoes -Or Shut Up.

    May 11, 2009 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  6. seg from houston

    Surely there are better ways to "heal" than to write a book about this man and appear on every single tv show to keep repeating the story. Sheesh.

    May 11, 2009 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  7. Carrie

    Do not understand why this is so important! So he cheated , not the first , not the last man do fall from grace due to another women. He dropped out , he did not run , he is no longer in politics, he is not our President! Elisabeth told her story , she is still in pain and trying to work through it and keep a marriage in tact. Obviously it is strained , and she wrote a book trying to find some closure with all the media being in their bedroom. Many people go through this so just let her alone, does not matter when she knew , what she knew , if that baby is his etc etc ....He committed adultry and it has caused great agony for her. Just put her on a prayer list and pray she finds some peace

    May 11, 2009 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  8. Jeff W.

    I think it's pathetic that Elizabeth Edwards remained, and continues to remain, with her husband after his disgusting behavior. How little self-esteem she must possess to believe that this is her only option. Wouldn't it have been refreshing had she demanded a divorce? By remaining with her husband she is essentially stating, "It is okay to treat me poorly because I will stay with you no matter what". I sympathize with her cancer fight, but what a sad legacy she is going to leave behind.

    May 11, 2009 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  9. Robin

    TO: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? May 11th, 2009 11:57 am ET

    With the divorce rate over 50% he is certain
    McCain had an affair with Cindy while his first wife was near death from a car crash!

    ______________________________________________________

    Please get your facts right. John McCain became a POW in 1967 and was not released until 1973.

    His first wife, Carol Shepp, was injured in a car accident in 1969 and spent 6 months in the hospital and had 23 operations over the next 2 years. While Senator McCain was a POW.

    They seperated in 1979, John met Cindy McCain in 1979, and the two divorced in 1980 and Senator McCain married Cindy.

    Carol Shepp has also remained close friends with McCain.

    May 11, 2009 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  10. Natasha

    Mrs.Edward, I want to let you know that the media has no right to invade your marriage or life. I respect your privacy and it's none of my business. I pray for your peace and family. Just say screw the media I will understand.

    May 11, 2009 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  11. Violet Allenson kane

    How could you, MS Dowd, be so insensitive as to think only about Mrs. Edwards being wrong. If you had not noticed, Edwards did not make any head way in the race. Smearing a victim is sooooo stupid.

    May 11, 2009 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  12. Natasha

    Mrs.Edward, I want to let you know that the media has no right to invade your marriage or life. I respect your privacy and it's none of my business. I pray for your peace and family.

    May 11, 2009 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  13. Robin

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

    No he did not! John McCain was a POW from 1967 to 1973. So how could he have had an affair in 1969 when his wife's accident took place?

    May 11, 2009 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  14. Johnny DC

    A lot of you people are legitimate morons. Posters and bloggers aren't the ones keeping this story alive - Elizabeth Edwards and CNN (the holy grail of Liberal-biased reporting) are. Don't blame Conservatives for voicing their opinions on the matter. She intentionally puts comments out there to further her literary career, just as she basically lied (by omission) during the campaign in order to further her political legacy.

    What is continuously left out of your arguments is that her treatment of the situation only supports people who cheat on their spouses. It makes it seem like it's no big deal, one slip up every now and then. Praising women like Elizabeth Edwards and Hilary Clinton only reinforces this same message... that women don't need to be strong when it comes to standing up to their abusive, demeaning husbands.

    Good. Great moral lesson, America.

    May 11, 2009 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  15. Kelly

    You who criticize her for trying to make her marriage work after a horrible (and public) infidelity make me sick. Family values, jerks? When something like this happens, partners in families try to pick up the pieces. This poor woman loves her husband and her children. She didn't cling to her relationship because she wanted power–She did so because her family is what matters to her.

    May 11, 2009 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  16. Fair is Fair

    Follow the money... where's the campaign cash? Hush money? IF that's the case (and I emphasize IF)... we're looking at a felony here.

    May 11, 2009 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  17. Glennis

    I have great sympathy for Mrs. Edwards in her fight with cancer, but beyond that I believe that she is as ambitious as her husband and that's why she continued campaigning. I also don't buy the airing dirty laundry as catharsis baloney. There are plenty of therapists who would be willing to work with her. She is simply out to make a buck.

    May 11, 2009 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  18. SoccerMom

    I have "tsk, tsk'ed" and rolled my eyes at politicians' wives who've "stood by their men" in staged photo ops following revelations of their indiscretions: the Clinton's, Larry Craig, etc., etc. I told my husband, "If you ever become famous and get caught in a similar situation, don't expect me to be the dutiful wife standing by your side in front of the media." But I have to take a step back...we've all made mistakes, right? Who am I to judge how a spouse decides to react to this situation? Marriage is a serious covenant.

    May 11, 2009 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  19. Kara

    Lauren,
    The media does not criticize Hillary? LOL Are you even serious with that?!?!?!? Do you live under a rock?

    Ms. Edwards was cheated on by a pig. I do not care if she "looks like his mother and men like attractive women." If that was the case HE SHOULD NOT HAVE GOTTEN MARRIED!!!! If you can not keep it in your pants, do not get married and do not have kids. It is as simple as that. Ms. Edwards is also dealing with a serious, terminal illness. We do not know all of the thoughts and emotions she is dealing with being a mother with terminal cancer and trying to sort out the feelings of betrayal and insult with being cheated on by a public figure. He should be ashamed of himself. He had to know it would get out?

    I can not even begin to imagine why she stood by him but I am not in her shoes, dealing with what she is dealing with.

    May 11, 2009 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  20. Kim S.

    Elizabeth has been devastated by her husband's betrayal. Her anger is largely misplaced; it should sit squarely at her husband's feet. She remained committed to him and his campaign despite the secrets. I don't know if that makes her foolish or selfish, but she made the choice that was right for her. She is now terminally ill and needs to concentrate on spending time with family and friends.

    Ms. Hunter should be ashamed of herself for having anything to do with a married person and she will have ALOT to explain to her daughter down the road. If the child is biologically proven to be the Mr. Edwards then he will never be able to forget what a disappointment he was to his wife and just how selfish a human being he really is.

    May 11, 2009 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  21. Democrat no more

    No Brad, you are truly sad that you will play politics WITH EVERY THING. Obviously you know this will hurt Democrats...in the long list of corruption and deceipt they are experiencing and YOU wish to try to blame Limbaugh or right wingers.

    Yeah, RIGHT. I'm one of the many millions of 30 year Democrats that choose to live in the REALITY world.

    Brad wrote:
    Brad Ohio May 11th, 2009 12:06 pm ET

    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

    May 11, 2009 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  22. Oklahoma

    Really, do you really throw a marriage away over one mistake? If marriage is that disposable why get married in the first place.

    Isn't it about life trials and tribulations... human weakness comes with that. I sure would hate to think that I would dispose of the man I married because he had a weak moment. After that many years of marriage you really have to look at the whole picture not one heated moment.

    May 11, 2009 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  23. bird

    I love the fake outrage by the media (of all "people"). How dare she back her husband! She should be slow roasted in front of millions for the affront...... Get real fools! If only there were some way to turn the tables and let the media feel the wrath for all their "sins" and transgressions. Must be nice to be able to criticize freely and without cause, with no fear of retribution.

    May 11, 2009 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  24. Marc Lapzo

    She is trying to attract attention so SHE CAN SELL HER BOOK.

    If a husband is unfaithful.....do you want to write about it? or just keep the dirt in the family? WHY is she still with him?

    May 11, 2009 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  25. Paul from Phoenix

    At some point, I hope Mr. and Mrs. Edwards remember that they have children.

    Did Mrs. Edwards really need to pull back the curtains on her family's private life to expose everythign? The children were already going to have to deal with this, but the news cycle had pretty much got its 15 minutes and moved on. Now, it is back in full force.

    I don't have a problem with her standing up for him. I respect that, she was doing what was best for her family. But this book is not good for her kids. She has removed the victim lable from herself and put it on the kids, all so she could make a quick buck.

    I think the Edwards's are being incredibly selfish. They have enough money. They should leave the public eye and focus on helping their children cope with their screw-ups.

    May 11, 2009 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
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