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. Marshall, San Francisco, CA

    What a joke. No class whatsoever. I can't see Barack or Hillary turning this around and saying, "Cancer will get you a certain amount of fundraising dollars." Edwards' message appeals to a minority of Americans. This is why his fundraising numbers have been so weak.

    August 7, 2007 11:08 pm at 11:08 pm |
  2. ST, Raleigh, NC

    So, why not post the QUESTION from the interview that she was responding to instead of just floating her answer around as if it is a standalone statement.

    For example, what if she was responding LIGHTHEARTEDLY to a question about whether it was ironic that John Edwards as a white male may be hurting him this year.

    The thing about this is that we get no sense of the EXACT QUESTION that she was responding to, or the tone in which she made the statement.

    Both matter, otherwise, it's just a smear.

    August 7, 2007 11:10 pm at 11:10 pm |
  3. C.D.Wallace

    Uuuhhh, no he is neither Black (or African-American, thank you Mrs. Edwards) nor is he a woman. But he is competent, qualified and experienced. That is reason enough for him to warrant coverage. Bill Richardson is the most qualified, experienced executive type in the campaign and one of if not the first hispanic descended candidate, but he does not get the coverage the warrants. Go figure.

    When all is said and done and the election is behind us, the media will realize they missed the boat again. Frankly, his wife gets more coverage then he does, but only because she is controversial, not because she is competent or cares about the lives of people. Strange...

    August 7, 2007 11:12 pm at 11:12 pm |
  4. Kristie Madison, WI

    Elizabeth is right. I am a woman of color and I have discussed the same issue with people. While I think it is great to have a woman president and/or minority president nominees and potentially a woman/minority president, Obama's and Clinton's campaign is very much an extension of the "all about me" culture that is so pervasive in our culture right now. The presidency is bigger than that, and that is why I am voting for Edwards.

    August 7, 2007 11:20 pm at 11:20 pm |
  5. Steven in Charleston, SC

    I have a lot of respect for John Edwards, and I have always thought highly of Elizabeth Edwards, but this comment is over the top. To suggest that the principal reason Senators Clinton and Obama are getting the attention they are is because they are female/black is just insulting.

    August 7, 2007 11:22 pm at 11:22 pm |
  6. Q. Davis, Merrillville, Indiana

    So Barack and Hillary have nothing to offer the American public other than the fact that they're Black and female respectively? Get real Mrs. Edwards. They are both talented and articulate people, who have a message that resonates with the American people.

    For centuries Blacks and women had no forum through which to express anything, let alone political positions and their abilities to lead the American people. Just because the playing field is a little bit more even, it doesn't invalidate the abilities or talents of people who were previously disenfranchised.

    Mrs. Edwards seems to want the playing field to be as unequal and uneven as it was back in the days of slavery and before women's sufferage. Too bad that Mrs. Edwards' husband doesn't have a message that resonates with America like Barack and Hillary. But she needs to stop blaming it on the ethnicity or gender of her husband's opponents. That's just jealous and callous, and shows that Mrs. Edwards and her husband have no platform to run on.

    August 7, 2007 11:23 pm at 11:23 pm |
  7. Michael Kramer, South Bend, Indiana (

    I don't think Al Sharpton, Elizabeth Dole, or Carol Mosley-Brown, prior presidential candidates whose nomination bids floundered, would agree with Elizabeth's theory as to why John Edwards is not receiving the same amount of media attention as the two Democratic front-runners. And I'm thinking that her comments would be getting a lot more scrutiny if she were, let's say, the wife of a Republican candidate.

    First, I personally think Edwards gets plenty of coverage. But there's another, less provocative explanation as to why he is lagging in coverage, polling, and fundraising. He's a retread candidate–he's seen as one-half of the Dem's 2004 losing ticket yet he's running on the same themes in 2008. He's become a bit boring. Sure, the "firstness" of Obama and Hillary is noteworthy. But the news media has 24 hours to fill every day, and, if Edwards was bringing something fresh or bold or provocative to this campaign, it probably would make the news. It's not rocket science.

    August 7, 2007 11:32 pm at 11:32 pm |
  8. Miriam, Farmington, MI

    Considering the American biases AGAINST a black or female president, I am happily surpised that Obama and Clinton have been getting press coverage.

    Black and female candidates have run before Obama and Clinton, but this is the first time people seem to be looking beneath the skin for a quality candidate.

    Frankly I found Elizabeth Edwards comments offensive. I don't think she is helping her husbands cause at all.

    Women are told all the time to stop making excuses why they can't go further in a business, so why can't we expect the same from the white male candidates. Do something interesting and valuable enough for the American public to pay attention to you? If you can't do that then you don't deserve to be president.

    August 7, 2007 11:37 pm at 11:37 pm |
  9. Rich, Rialto, ca

    And no matter what Mrs Wdwards says, she can't make John win the nomination. It simply will not happen, and he should withdraw now.

    August 7, 2007 11:48 pm at 11:48 pm |
  10. Carla, Irving, TX

    He gets to live his life as a privileged white man how dare her be so ignorant. Its about time someone else gets the attention they deserve. The woman and the black man are the better canidates. She sounds more and more ignorant every time she opens her mouth fighting against Hillary and Obama.

    August 8, 2007 12:00 am at 12:00 am |
  11. Johnny G, Kankakee, IL

    Wow, I'm so surprised at her bluntness. She really is gutsy.

    While I can understand the interest in Clinton given her husband's success and her success, the way the media appointed Obama as a front runner should be mystifying but unfortunately the phoniness of those in the media makes the media's appointment of Obama all to transparent. Obama's major accomplishment is being black and for the media and way too many liberals that is enough.

    August 8, 2007 12:04 am at 12:04 am |
  12. CS, TX

    Wahh. My husband cant raise money like a woman or AA. Maybe he should use some of his lawyer money to fund himself. Why does this guy keep on sending his wife out to plead for him? It smacks of desperation and a campaign coming off the tracks.

    August 8, 2007 12:05 am at 12:05 am |
  13. JimmieFromDayton

    Oh no not the race card AGAIN! I respect the candidate. He may even get my vote. The Clinton News Network is really disappointing me with this garbage. Why are you all reporting this mess. Shame on you!

    August 8, 2007 12:28 am at 12:28 am |
  14. m.bodei, morristown,nj

    So the insinuation is that Clinton and Obama get more attention than Edwards because of their gender and race, not because they are better qualified ? Somebody needs a MUZZLE.

    August 8, 2007 01:27 am at 1:27 am |
  15. Marsha, Portland, OR

    Wow...Edwards is being discriminated against because he's a white man. His wife needs to learn to be quiet.

    August 8, 2007 01:52 am at 1:52 am |
  16. Dave

    Probably some truth to this statement... but still smacks of racism/sexism/bitterness.

    This could be a statement that comes back to haunt Edwards if the media chooses to smell the blood and start chomping

    August 8, 2007 02:05 am at 2:05 am |
  17. Kyu Reisch, Radcliff, Kentucky

    Elizabeth, you can't make excuse with race and gender. There's the main reason why your husband is behind. Honestly you hurted(big and foolish mouth) him more than any thing else. You made your husband disable man, how could people trust him or depend on him as our President? The Clintons are different with any other candidate's couple, because Hillary is smarter than others, plenty of experiences and she is stronger, so she could handle any situation by herself, but John couldn't do without you by your action. Don't blame media because media is the business, they have to publish what people want to hear and see, people are interested in Hillary and Obama more than John. John failed his own State in 2004, started the campaign with your cancer as weapon, you made a slip of the tongue several times(repeated at Larry King's interview), you and John picked on Hillary illogically. If you and John make another improper remark, your hope will be hopeless.

    August 8, 2007 02:15 am at 2:15 am |
  18. walters,A

    Sorry mrs Edwards i sincerely appreciate your support and sacrifice for your husband's campaign but this topic is completely irrelevant for this debate, what actually it does is promoting racism and sexiesm, those attributes ironically is working against Hillary Clinton for not being mannly enough and Obama not having all the support he needs because some People doubt if at the end of the day racism won't topple the entire show. We must stand by our convictions and hope which is the driving force behind Obama's campaign. I sincerely think John Edward still has a fair shot and could still make a good president if we should stop looking at trivial issues which does nothing to enhance this debate like u must be 10 yrs in the senate to have leadership skills or about the amount of money your hair cost.

    August 8, 2007 02:45 am at 2:45 am |
  19. Gerald Holland, Dallas TX

    To me that sounds like her saying that the support that Hillary and Obama are receiving are result of their race and gender. I think the voters see beyond those things. Personally I am not moved by Hillary because she's a woman, or Obama because he's black. I look at the merits of their arguments and also how convincing they are. It's funny to see who's using the race/gender card in this instance!!

    August 8, 2007 02:47 am at 2:47 am |
  20. Rebecca Wolfe, Edmonds, WA

    The corporate media are promoting Obama and Clinton instead of the candidates with some of the best ideas, such as DENNIS KUCINICH. Of course they are focused on the two candidates who have uniqueness - one, a woman and the other, an African American. It's about time to promote diversity in politics.

    However, in the 2008 election I am strongly supporting Kucinich!!! Kucinich is the only candidate working for single payer healthcare, against NAFTA and such misguided policies as the "Security and Prosperity Partnership, for ending the wars for profit, and other progressive programs. We need Kucinich at this time!

    Keith Olberman did a great job!

    August 8, 2007 03:52 am at 3:52 am |
  21. Barry, Tampa, Florida

    And what was Edwards excuse the previous election? Clinton and Obama are not the first minority candidates to run for office and those previous candidates did not receive the same campaign cash and media attention. To blame his poor success on the "burden of being a rich white guy" is a cop-out at best.

    August 8, 2007 04:09 am at 4:09 am |
  22. LLE, Duluth Ga

    I think the undertone is there, and it is starting to rear it's ugly head. It is called racisim and just because Edwards did not get what he wanted, he has his wife instead of his Mommy stand up and say That's Not Fair. Sit down...

    August 8, 2007 05:51 am at 5:51 am |
  23. Penny, Dayton, Ohio

    I'm sorry, but does anyone believe Mrs. Edwards is "First Lady" material? Perhaps in her quest to be percieved as healthy she has gone a bit overboard. All I hear is pettiness. She can not force people to like her husband, let alone vote for him...

    August 8, 2007 07:05 am at 7:05 am |
  24. Casey, Orlando, Florida

    I think it has nothing to do with Hillary Clinton being a female while Barack Obama being Black. Look at Bill Richardson. He is Hispanic. He is not getting enough media attention like John Edwards. I think that John Edwards is not working so hard. I think we should not focus on their sex and race. We should look at their qualifications, experiences, education, and skills. That is it.

    August 8, 2007 07:19 am at 7:19 am |
  25. Eli Joseph City, Arizona

    I think it's great that being a woman or a black is no longer a drag on fundraising, but Mrs. Edwards is stretching things a little in suggesting that the reason they are getting so much money and support is because of the fact. Not only is that a stretch, but it is insulting to their donors (as well as donors to Bill Richardson, a Hispanic whose name Mrs. Edwards is ironically careful never to mention as Richardson has pulled up to the point where he is threatening to pass her husband and move into third place.) People donate to a political candidate because of what that candidate says and stands for, not what their gender or color is.

    Media attention certainly does matter– exhibit A is Obama, who even before he announced was getting wall to wall media coverage that pushed candidates who had been working on building campaigns for months to the sidelines, but it's not like Democratic primary voters don't know who John Edwards is. If the 2004 runner up and Vice Presidential nominee is not connecting then maybe he needs to look at why people who already know him and have heard his message are supporting other candidates.

    August 8, 2007 07:40 am at 7:40 am |
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