August 8th, 2007
09:51 AM ET
13 years ago

Elizabeth Edwards: 'Can't make John black' or a 'woman'

Elizabeth Edwards said her husband is utilizing the Internet to gain publicity.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Elizabeth Edwards, the wife of Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards, is gaining attention for recent comments on why her husband may receive less attention from the media – and campaign cash - than the two leading Democratic candidates.

"We can't make John black, we can't make him a woman," said Edwards, referring to Illinois Sen. Barack Obama and New York Sen. Hillary Clinton during an interview with Ziff Davis Media about the Internet's role in the 2008 presidential election. "Those things get you a certain amount of fundraising dollars."

The interview was published Monday.

Considered a top tier presidential candidate, former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards lags significantly behind Clinton and Obama in fundraising and in national polls.

During the interview, Elizabeth Edwards attributed the Internet as a way to bypass the "sieve of mainstream media" and reach voters despite receiving less publicity than her husband's chief rivals.

"The idea that you have people standing between you and the voter is diminished, and the capacity to speak directly empowers candidates to trust their own voices," she said.

"Now it's nice to get on the news, but not the be all and end all," Edwards added.

Eric Schultz, a spokesman for Edwards' campaign, told CNN Tuesday that Elizabeth Edwards was "noting what countless reporters and pundits have said for months, that Senators Clinton and Obama get a lot of media attention, and deservedly so, because of the potential ‘firsts’ of their candidacies.”

"But the reality is, with so many candidates in this race, we just have to work a little harder to get our message out and inform the people about John Edwards’ bold vision for America," he added.

- CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney

soundoff (161 Responses)
  1. Independent Voter, TN

    What a turn off...

    Is poor Edwards a victim of reverse discrimination? Even so, I think it's time he manned up and spoke for himself rather than have his wife make excuses for him. It didn't work with Theresa Heinz Kerry and it won't work for Ms. Edwards. Best to put a sock in it, Elizabeth.

    August 7, 2007 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  2. James, Phoenix AZ


    Good Job blaming your husband's lagging campaign on being a white male. It wouldn't have anything to do with his becoming the butt of political jokes ($400 haircuts, learning how to switch gears from Lance Armstrong, whispering with Hillary to limit 2nd tier candidates) and the basic disconnect he has with most Americans. John wants to divide America by class – whereas Obama and Hillary divide by ideology, race, and sex.

    Edwards is a lightweight. Lost his congressional seat. Lost his bid for VP with Kerry. And will lose his bid for this nomination. Hard issues to come to terms with, Elizabeth, huh.

    August 7, 2007 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
  3. Jayson

    You also can't make him smart. Something isn't right upstairs if you think working at a hedge fund will make you savvy on poverty.

    He may have some good ideas, but having a few good ideas doesn't make you Presidential material.

    August 7, 2007 07:07 pm at 7:07 pm |
  4. Stacy, Baton Rouge LA

    It is nice that a African person and a woman are getting more attention, usually they don't get anything.

    August 7, 2007 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
  5. Lance, Monrovia, CA.

    Edwards would make a hellova president, and I'm glad to see he's recently been injecting some good doses of rightous anger into debates. We need it and his current status as an underdog lends itself to this.

    However, to me, he is less electable than Obama is because he was the vice presidential candidate last time around. He needs to overcome the stigma of this if he's to ever rise above Obama and take the nomination.

    I would actively support Edwards as a candidate, his head's on right and he's talking about issues that Clinton glances over. At the moment my only issue with Edwards is that Obama feels more of the moment, fresher and more alive than he does.

    I loved Edwards in '04 and wish he'd been the nominee, but because I'm already so familiar with him, it makes me more eager about Obama, who still has unlimited potential in the eyes of the world.

    My problems with these candidates are wonderful problems to have, as I think Edwards, Obama or even, to a lesser extent Clinton would do well.

    August 7, 2007 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  6. Sherry

    Elizabeth Edwards is a complete moron.

    Thankfully, she won't ever be First Lady, since her husband has no shot at being President.

    But this comment is insulting. So much for the Black vote.

    August 7, 2007 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  7. Donna Seattle Washington

    Dear Elizabeth, So if all the women and blacks are attracted to other candidates, do you think your husband's support is coming from latent misogynists and racists? The poor white man! Let me set you straight - lots of democratic voters just didn't think John was all that impressive last election cycle when he was the preferred candidate of the centrist DLC and was parading about as the new Bubba. All the while Bush was sounding the drumbeat for the Iraq war, John never objected. He just fell into lockstep and in every interview I heard with him, he preferred to harp on free college when it obviously was not a high priority for the country when faced with a looming war. Now that John has apologized for his whopper mistake, please understand if we think he is just attempting to pose again - this time lefter-than-thou. So which is the real John?
    I am truly sorry for your illness, but that doesn't automatically give you credibility. Furthermore, it is a tragedy that your cancer was most likely induced by fertility treatments. For heaven's sake, why aren't you speaking out about the dangers of hormone treatments and warning other women!?! Instead you have chosen to sacrifice yourself again and you are squandering your precious time to satisfy your husband's narcisism. Its really a pitiful shame for your children - they are so young and need both their parents more right now than the country needs your husband.

    August 7, 2007 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  8. Jason M., Alexandria, VA

    While I admire Elizabeth Edwards (particularly in light of her health struggles), I have to say that this comment is outrageous. It does a serious injustice to both Sen. Clinton and Sen. Obama - both are popular for reasons other than simply their gender or race. I'd hope she would apologize to both of her husband's opponents.

    August 7, 2007 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  9. Darrius Cole, AR

    That is funny. Is she trying to say that being a white man is working against John Edwards in a Presidential race. She does know that every single President in US history has been a white man doesn't she?

    August 7, 2007 08:14 pm at 8:14 pm |
  10. Gurman Bal, San Ramon, CA

    Elizabeth Edwards' bizarre claim that Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are getting attention and fundraising because they are, respectively, "black" and a "woman" is outrageous and bigoted.

    Mrs. Edwards complained that she can't make "John black or a woman" and Mr. Edwards is thus disadvantaged in his Presidential campaign push.

    As a racial and religious minority myself, I can assure Elizabeth Edwards and other ignorant fools that being white is a HUGE advantage.

    And dismissing Barack Obama's strong candidacy soley as the result of his being black is something a GOP racist would utter. Obama was the first African American Editor in Chief of the Harvard Law Review, a huge scholastic achievement.

    Hillary Clinton's battle to overcome anti-woman political bias is not as severe as the anti-black bigotry Obama has faced but Hillary's struggle is also compelling.

    Shame on Elizabeth Edwards for expressing such bigoted, ignorant and destructive comments. Good-bye John Edwards!

    August 7, 2007 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  11. Julie, Atlanta, GA

    Right on, Elizabeth. You tell it and you keep on telling it – It doesn't matter if John's a man or woman, blue, black, orange, or green. What matters is one point and one point alone: John Edwards is head and shoulders above ALL other candidates and he will be a fantastic president. Anyone who pays even the tiniest bit of attention knows that.

    Good grief, have we learned nothing from the disastrous election of 2000 and 2004.

    August 7, 2007 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
  12. Chris New York, NY

    Welcome to America, 2007 : Where your race is more important than being a good candidate.

    August 7, 2007 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |
  13. Sean, Chicago, Il

    Mrs Edwards should know better than that. I have a great deal of respect for her and John, but it saddens me that she will debase our public discourse in such manner. I was outrage when Ann Coulter said those mean things about John and I thought she was well within her rights to confront Ann. Now she's the one playing the race and gender card. Shame on you Mrs Edwards.

    August 7, 2007 08:57 pm at 8:57 pm |
  14. Not Surprised, Houston, TX

    Why can't Obama and Clinton just be getting more attention because they have a more compelling platform? Look who is playing the race/gender card now!!

    August 7, 2007 09:26 pm at 9:26 pm |
  15. Julian, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

    Wow, and here I thought that being a white male was an advantage when you ran for president, given the fact that, oh I don't know, 100% of previous presidents have fit that description. Elizabeth Edwards needs to be more careful, or her husband will go right back to $400 hair cuts in NC instead of DC.

    August 7, 2007 09:34 pm at 9:34 pm |
  16. David, Los Angeles, CA

    I don't know what Mrs. Edwards means. I don't think that were John Edwards black, or a woman, or a black woman, that he would be generating the buzz of Hillary or Obama. He is not as controversial, competent, or imposing as Mrs. Clinton. He is not as compelling or exciting as Obama. And he carries Election '04 baggage. I'm sure it was not Elizabeth's intent, but to even leave room for the implication that the main reasons for Hillary's or Obama's buzz are their respective gender and race opens a whole can of worms that the Edwards campaign ought not touch.

    August 7, 2007 09:36 pm at 9:36 pm |
  17. Alex Luthor, Madison, WI

    Been poking around here and can't find the coverage and polls like CNN has after it's own debates 😦

    August 7, 2007 09:55 pm at 9:55 pm |
  18. Mat, Stillwater, Oklahoma

    I maybe wrong but she being a sexist and a racist? Well the democrats best choice for president might as well pack it up because the America I live in has no room for hatred like that.

    August 7, 2007 10:11 pm at 10:11 pm |
  19. Frank, Boston MA

    You can't make him believable either as He's a world class phony.

    August 7, 2007 10:11 pm at 10:11 pm |
  20. Jeff Spangler, Arlington, VA

    Is this a back door way of questioning whether Americans are ready to elect a woman, a black or an hispanic? I don't think they are, but no one other than candidates' pollsters seems to be asking this important question.

    August 7, 2007 10:15 pm at 10:15 pm |
  21. Sue, New York, NY

    I wish Elizabeth Edwards would run for POTUS. Since the return of her cancer she's just been speaking her mind with an honesty and candor that we so seldom see these days. I'd love to hear her ideas on the war, the economy, and health care.

    August 7, 2007 10:17 pm at 10:17 pm |
  22. Zak Washington DC

    Wow. I really like Elizabeth Edwards, but she may have gone to far. I can't imagine this sort of complaint is going to go over well with the liberal base.

    I see her point, and maybe Obama's blackness is part of the reason I support him. But I think she's over simplifying things. If Edwards was black, would he have been elected in North Carolina in the first place?

    Regardless, if he gets the nomination, or is elected president, it will be fun to hear his wife express her views.

    I remember a comment she made a few months ago that was similarly in questionable taste. She implied that the old testament suggests that living a good life will lead to a long life. Then she said that 'turns out not to be true.' Well, aside from the inaccuracy of her analysis (at least I don't think the old testament makes any such claim), I was surprised that the wife of a man running for president would slam the old testament. I agree that the Bible is hogwash but I thought she was being politically unwise in deprecating the Bible in a religious country where her husband wants to be president.

    Still still, I like her guts.

    August 7, 2007 10:19 pm at 10:19 pm |
  23. Robert Jackson Jr. - Davenport, IA

    The Rich White Man Blues
    Please spare me Elizabeth. I'm really not in the mood to hear how it's so hard to be a rich white man in America. The reality is that John Edward's populist message of Two Americas has not caught on with a majority of the voters. The fact that she would play the race/gender card is telling, to be sure.

    August 7, 2007 10:26 pm at 10:26 pm |
  24. Vin Adams, Madison, WI

    Wow...why am I not surprised. As "progressive" as John Edwards seems, it is obviously not above his wife to make underhanded comments–however true they may seem to be–about his political opponents' race and gender. It's a darn shame.

    August 7, 2007 10:43 pm at 10:43 pm |
  25. Nick, DC

    Oh, poor little white guy.

    August 7, 2007 10:59 pm at 10:59 pm |
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