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. Karen Wentzel, Des Moines, Iowa

    Elizabeth is right. In Iowa it is not about how many people attend your rallies or give you money, it is about how many will leave their homes on a cold winter night to stand up for you at their caucus. Democrats are blessed with an "all of the above" group of candidates while the Republicans have a "none of the above" situation. For Democrats the challenge is like Goldilocks' dilemma: you have to pick someone who is "just right". For me that is John Edwards. Hillary Clinton is a little too much yesterday; Barak Obama is a little too tomorrow; I think John Edwards is just right NOW! He is clearly leading the field in concrete policy proposals. Every week he makes a major policy address while others have rock star rallies with nothing but cliches. Edwards reminds me of Bobby Kennedy in 1968, appealing to Americans for their ideals not just their votes. I will stand up for him in my caucus,and I will continue to support him on this journey to get America's soul back.

    August 8, 2007 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  2. Bruce, Franklin, TN

    Hey anon in SF,

    I can't stand Edwards but in his defense, he did not lose senate re-election. He did not stand for re-election due to running for VP in 2004.

    His real failure is that he is a divisive candidate that is counting on populism to sweep him into office. The American people typically reject populist messages.

    August 8, 2007 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  3. S.T. Sutcliffe, Dallas, Texas

    Although the less savvy minority pundits will posture as if they are truly enraged, Mrs. Edwards is absolutely justified in her presumption of the media's behavior. Refreshing to see someone like Mrs. Edwards express a potentially unpopular opinion (that just happens to be correct).

    August 8, 2007 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  4. Joseph, Manteca Ca

    Who's running for President? Mr or Mrs Edwards? It looks to me that Mrs Edwards is doing the talking for Mr Edwards.... If John gets elected who would be making the decisions? He or she?

    August 8, 2007 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  5. Scott, NJ

    Just because we may not want to believe these comments doesnt mean they arent true. Elizabeth Edwards is correct. John gets far less money and publicity because he is not a woman or black.

    For insntance Oprah is doing her first ever presidential fundraiser for Obama. Thats not a coincidence!!

    Also for those who say there have been plenty of white males to get publicity/money .. they are negelcting the fact that those white males never ran against a woman or black man.

    Its an unsettling fact but it is true.

    August 8, 2007 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  6. C, Oak Park, Il

    To reduce the broad voter support of Obama and Clinton to a color and a gender is insulting and revealing of Ms. Edwards own lack of depth. To be sure, both Obama and Clinton have exceptionally strong life experience and unique perspectives that far outshine the majority of current and past white male candidates. One thing is for sure, there are plenty of Blacks and women (and a lot of Black Women) who might have been a better choice than the fool in there now.

    August 8, 2007 11:32 am at 11:32 am |

    Mrs. Edward's remarks are way off. If 'color' were the reason for Obama's fundraising dollars, then what happened to Jesse Jackson's funding years ago, or the Republican candidates in the last two elections?
    "Color" may be a factor for some voters, but Mr. Obama has a way of transceding that so-called barrier due to his message, not his skin-color!

    August 8, 2007 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  8. nv

    awww.. poor whitey Edwards.. You didn't make enough money suing doctors??? poor guy.

    August 8, 2007 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  9. Ana, Alaska

    okay, short and sweet
    RE: "Can't make him black...woman"
    Why the urgent need to make him either or? If you could, you would? and would he be black or woman permanently or just until the Black & Women voters help hire him as president? That last one is a national tradition, you know? "I care for the poor, the Blacks, the Latinos and other underrepresented groups until amnesia kicks in. Please be yourselves and be happy for what you have to offer.
    Thank you!

    August 8, 2007 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  10. anthony, FL, orlando

    I can't believe all the asinine comments I'm seeing. He's not saying its hard being a rich, white man, he doesn't want you to feel bad for him. His wife didn't make a racist or sexist comment, she is simply saying that the media is transfixed on the other 2 candidates because one is black and the other is a woman. If you're too blind to see that, I feel bad for you. And don't say the others are getting more attention because of their past accomplishments, Obama barely has 2 years of experience.

    August 8, 2007 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  11. Pat, Huntington Station, NY

    Or perhaps the real reason is that Edwards was merely a lackluster, mediocre, nothing special, single term senator who can't muster excitement about his running for president. In any event, Mrs. Edwards' comments are unfortunate, in that they can be easily taken as racist, and yes, despite her being a woman, sexist too.

    August 8, 2007 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  12. Gary F, Gilbert Arizona

    The truth is the newspapers and national news stations provide the mojority of coverage to the leading candidates. Watch a replay of the coverage after the latest Dem debate and see who they talk to and about. It's so unbalanced it is sickening.

    August 8, 2007 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  13. Jane, Murphysboro, IL

    If you don't think Clinton gets attention because she is a woman and the Obama gets attention because of his race, your CRAZY!

    I can't believe that Hillary is doing so well in the polls. PEOPLE WAKE UP!!
    She uses her husband as a asset to her campaign. In the general election he will be a liability. Don't just remember all of the "good times". Remember the scandals. The RNC will be showing Bill saying "I did not have sex with that woman" over & over again.
    It will be 10 times worse than the swift boat commercials.

    People want change. The democrats will win the election this time, unless they pick the wrong candidate.

    Obama will also have a difficult time in the general election. I live in IL. I'm tired of everyone saying how great he is. He's a good speaker. But he hasn't done much of anything for us. He's had very little experience. He was in the state senate longer. But during those years our state has been a mess! It wasn't all his fault, but he didn't help.

    Vote smart, vote for Edwards!

    August 8, 2007 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  14. Sage, St. Helena, California

    Canidates may receive more money because of their race, gender, and other deciding factors. But they also are defered money due to those same reasons. Edwards doesn't receive as much money because Americans want a change, and he doesn't seem to adhere to that need. AKA: Stop your whining Elizabeth, and get your man to do what's right for this WORLD.

    August 8, 2007 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  15. Linda - Albany, NY

    That was a stupid move on Mrs. Edwards' part. She's not doing her husband any favours.

    August 8, 2007 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  16. nv

    If by past accomplishments, you are referring to suing OB/GYN doctors for millions of dollars based on junk science and continually opposing legislation that would cap damages in liability lawsuits, one of largest reasons our healthcare costs are out of control..........then yeah, John Edwards is full of accomplishments.

    August 8, 2007 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  17. Politcially Interested, Washington, DC

    Up until now I had respect for Elizabeth Edwards, but it appears that she is indeed a sore looser! I can't respect anyone who is a cry baby and blames others for their lack! Tell John to step up his A-game.

    August 8, 2007 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  18. O.P.A.

    On one hand she is right. The idea that we as a nation might have our first African American or female president does attract the media, as it should due to its unprecedented nature.

    On the other hand she should keep comments like this to herself. White males have had more privileges, by law and not preference, for the longest time in this nation’s history. The very instant one falls behind she wants to start complaining? That is ridiculous.

    I don’t feel sorry for him. It would behoove her to figure out a way to help rather than sit on the side lines complaining.

    August 8, 2007 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  19. Scott Austin, TX

    Amen, Anthony! I totally agree.

    August 8, 2007 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  20. Kat Watanabe, Charleston, SC

    Obama may be black, but Mrs. Edwards forgot that he's also white. Bi-racial means 2 races - not one or the other.
    I for one am glad that Elizabeth made the statement - it tells me exactly the type of president her husband would be - a shoveler of excuses. No thank you. You don't automatically win by being born white and male anymore - you actually have to be QUALIFIED for the job. Get over it, Elizabeth. Your husband has only one person to blame - himself.

    August 8, 2007 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  21. Jasmine Daniel, Akron, OH

    Elizabeth Edwards needs to stop making public comments that could get her and possibly her husband into hot water. As a young college student, I see that politics have become more about who's more popular than the other candidates rather than the important issues at hand. With her making that comment as to why her husband is not receiving more money, it just shows that maybe her husband is not what america really wants. If he were really a front-runner then he would have more money than Obama or Clinton but since he does not-instead of saying ignorant things, accept the fact that Edwards is not a front-runner. He needs to work harder and stop hiding behind his religion and make some important decisions about his campaign, i.e. stop allowing your wife to make public comments that make you and her look insensitive.

    August 8, 2007 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  22. A. Voter. Los Angeles, CA

    Can't make John relevant or president either.

    August 8, 2007 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  23. Matt, Chicago, IL

    I expect more from CNN than hot button issues with partial coverage. Is CNN so sold out to the sound byte that not only is the article woefully under-inclusive, but further responses are encouraged!

    I agree wholeheartedly that there isn't any way Mrs. Edwards intended to disparage any segment of the population.

    Shame on you CNN.

    August 8, 2007 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  24. Jim

    Its the truth

    August 8, 2007 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  25. Linda Peacock, Houston, Texas

    First of all, this quote was taken out of context and it would have been appropriate, if the author of this hit piece ahd linked to the whole article. Wonder why that was not done? There was yet another smear piece on John Edwards the other day, about him being a Southern white man, implying he is a racist. Does anyone listen to what John Edwards says? He said in the You-Tube debate that if anyone wanted to vote for him because he was not black or not a woman, he did not want their vote. Keep on telling it like it is Elizabeth Edwards. You have truth on your side no matter how dirty minds try to twist your thinking.

    August 8, 2007 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
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