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. KPMAH, Glendale, AZ

    Mrs. Edwards sounds bitter...

    August 8, 2007 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  2. Joyce Lowry, Georgia

    John Kerry and John Edwards were the winners last election. Our country would not be in this mess if Bush/Chaney had not cheated!!
    I am praying that John Edwards will be our next President of the United States. I like Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama but I feel that John has the best message and interest for not only our Country but individually in all aspects.

    August 8, 2007 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  3. Anonymous

    Why does John Edwards keep bring up this 55 year old woman with the pencil in her head, and how our health care system let her down. She is from Germany!!!

    August 8, 2007 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  4. Dan Swihart, Fort Wayne, Indiana

    We should strive to get the best person for the job as president or any office. It is too bad that the way people get elected is by how much money they can raise and spend on their campaign. We should change this process to equal the playing field to elect our officials. We live in an age where we can give each canidate a limited amount of money, have a number of debates and then have the election.

    August 8, 2007 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  5. Jonathan, Virginia Beach, VA

    I have to agree with Anthony from Orlando:

    This is the first time I’ve seen people so vehement in defending the media’s penchant for sensationalism. Normally that shoe is on the other foot.

    The Edwards’ camp was not out of line or voicing a far-fetched summation of the Clinton and Obama campaigns in the above story. Hillary does owe a great deal of her public and political success to having been married to easily one of the greatest Presidents in the last century – a crutch and talking point she could not have claimed if it weren’t for an XX chromosome.

    And overlooking the relative inexperience of Obama for a second, he is not half as charismatic or refreshing as most starry-eyed Americans seem to think he is. His political ideology is far from unique – the only difference is that most candidates are canny enough to realize they can never deliver 1/10th of what he promises and still keep a handle on American and foreign affairs. If you aren’t voting on his grandiose, out-of-touch-with-reality espoused ideology, then you are voting for him because he’s black.

    All of which does nothing but validate the simple fact that the media can only sell what they can sensationalize enough to be interesting, and I believe that is all Elizabeth Edwards was trying to say. Is she whining? Sure. Who doesn’t listen to their spouse or friend’s bad day without immediately following their plight with a tale of their own? Edwards’ campaign is flagging, and I believe he will fail again, but his wife’s knee-jerk reaction to blame the media (not the other candidates) is perfectly human and should probably have been predicted.

    After all, what will Clinton and Obama’s excuses be when one or the other fails to gain the Democratic nomination? America wasn’t ready for a woman President? America wasn’t ready for a minority President?

    August 8, 2007 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  6. Jon, Sacramento ~ Ca

    Elizabeth is silly and the spokesman (Eric Schultz) for Edwards' campaign is wrong when he said, "Senators Clinton and Obama get a lot of media attention, and deservedly so, because of the potential ‘firsts’ of their candidacies.”

    Geraldine Ferraro (woman) ran for the Presidency years ago

    Jessie Jackson and Al Sharpton (black) have both made serious attempts to earn the democratic party nomination in years past.

    Hillary and Obama have not blazed a new path. Elizabeth needs to realize she is HURTING her husband's campaign and "put a lid on it".

    August 8, 2007 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  7. Red Frost

    why does she look like she could be his mother?

    August 8, 2007 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  8. billybob, hills of ky

    "John Kerry and John Edwards were the winners last election. Our country would not be in this mess if Bush/Chaney had not cheated!!
    I am praying that John Edwards will be our next President of the United States. I like Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama but I feel that John has the best message and interest for not only our Country but individually in all aspects."

    umm joyce, how did dem boys bush/chaney cheat?? Did they "steal" the elecshun?

    How exactly does john have "the best interest for our individually in all aspects"? (not sure what you're even atempting to say – but I'm sure your clarification will be entertaining)

    August 8, 2007 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  9. Lafayette Funches, Inglewood CA

    I applaud Mrs. Edwards for speaking her mind but I wonder about her sense of perspective and proportion. It does not appear that John and Elizabeth have sat down and seriously strategized on how best to win the presidency. Her diatribes are alienating Democrats. It makes you wonder who's in charge. Then again, these outbursts of hers may be entirely planned. A smart woman (or man) would wait until the race is won; then their words and opinions would have greater force and effect. If nothing else, we at least have a glimpse of what we can expect with Elizabeth Edwards as a First Lady. If John Edwards ever wants to know who shot his presidential campaign in the foot all he has to do is look in the bed beside him.

    August 8, 2007 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  10. Gail,Modesto,CA

    There is some truth to what Mrs. Edwards said. She didn't insult women or African Americans. She simply stated a fact. I don't understand the outrage at all.

    August 8, 2007 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  11. La Chatte, Portland, OR

    Let's see... How can I put this succinctly? Ah yes! Elizabeth, shut up! You're perhaps the biggest detriment to your husband's campaign.

    August 8, 2007 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |

    I remember a guy named Jesse Jackson
    running for the office'was he black',so,this isn't a first as you stated. Or, did you mean first time these two have run for president,wrongly stated again. Who
    else is a first time bidder for this office this campaign year.

    August 8, 2007 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  13. Ryan, New York, NY

    Not really sure what all of the outrage over the comment is for. She does have a point. I mean, if I had a quarter for every time that the media mentions Obama's race or Hillary's gender, I could quit my job. If CNN is allowed to have entire stories about "Whether Obama is Black Enough," what's wrong with E. Edwards commenting about the affect that it has on media coverage and fundraising?

    For those of you who mentioned past minority candidates like Ferraro, Sharpton and Jackson, you're missing the point. Ferraro was a VP candidate and the other two are so divisive that they never had a chance at getting a Democratic nomination, let alone run against a Republican.

    Also, in the Democratic party, being a minority is more of a help than being a white male. Both Clinton and Obama have a lot of positive qualities that would qualify them regardless of gender/race and sorry to make it sound un-PC, but the novelty of a black or female President is alluring to many people, as it could open the doors to many other great candidates in the future.

    August 8, 2007 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  14. Scott Dallas, Tx.

    I know John isn't black, but like most democratic males he is a little sissy boy who does what women tell him to do.

    August 8, 2007 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  15. maninthemirror

    The only thing worse than her ignorant bigotry is the blatant bigotry being expressed here by so called "enlightened progressives". Hate is hate, from the right and the left. There is no differece..

    August 8, 2007 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  16. totaltransformation

    Doe she realize how silly he looks with his wife speaking for him so much. He has he confront Coulter? She says things about Obama and Hillary he can't.

    August 8, 2007 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  17. Tim, Chicago IL

    Dear Mrs. Edwards,

    I think what you were trying to say was merely that you can't make your husband as charismatic and powerful as Barack Obama. Because, you see, it isn't because he is black that he is receiving such accolades. No one wished to make your husband black when Al Sharpton made his bid in 2004. The reason your husband is trailing is simply because Mr. Obama is a powerful orator, a strong personality and a born leader who, through no doing of his race or religion, has propelled himself into the hearts of millions. Also, if you're interested, there are operations that can make your husband a woman, but I don't think that will help him edge out Hillary.

    August 8, 2007 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  18. Romarise

    Since when does being black automatically get you fundraising dollars? Oh how people's perceptions have changed.

    August 8, 2007 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  19. Mindy Chatsworth, Ca.

    Yes, Hillary and Barack are getting a lot more attention, as they should. I prefer to look at Hillary's gender as a positive thing. She can make history if she becomes the first woman to be nominated by the Democratic party as president, and can make more history if she is elected. That is worth noting and talking about and it's perfectly legitimate. It is a wonderful thing to see a woman as a serious contender for the presidency.

    Barack's ascendancy is also exciting and noteworthy. I prefer to turn Elizabeth Edwards' argument on its head. It's great to see an African American running for the presidency. This kind of diversity should be celebrated. However, whoever gets the nomination needs to get it on merit. I am proud that my Democratic party has room for all ethnicities and for women. Just look at all the Republican candidates the next time they are lined up onstage ready for another debate. All older white males, one after the other. No surprise there, after all it is the Republican party, the most exclusive club in politics.

    I think Edwards deserves his share of attention, but he will have to earn it with good ideas, innovative solutions to our overwhelming problems and the vigor to make his case. It's true he doesn't have the advantage of being different, but if he has something worthwhile to say, the American people will listen.

    August 8, 2007 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  20. bro doc, nyc

    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.”

    I quoted this because, if you follow this logic, Clinton and Richards would have the best campaign financing just by the sheer numbers of women and Latinos. Blacks make up only 11% of the country. But Obama isn't raising funds so well and Clinton is not the front-runner because they're black and female, because actually Obama is doing quite well with white, middle class men and women, and Clinton has a strong influence with the black community, not just the power brokers but the common working black woman (a powerful voting block itself). so edwards isn't lacking in the polls because he's not black and female, he just hasn't connected with these voting blocks to the same extent that these politicians have.

    August 8, 2007 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  21. Elizabeth Moore, Frisco TX

    No, Elizabeth, you can't make him black and you can't make him a woman. Why not ask him to step up and be a go home and be a husband and a father!

    August 8, 2007 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |
  22. Lowry Helseth, Youngsville, North Carolina

    John and Elizabeth Edwards are both Rich, Ambulence Chasing Lawyers, who are both extremely part of the reason the Medical Insurance in this country is either un-obtainable or un-affordable by the majority of Americans who cannot affort health insurance. I hope the people of America see through John Edwards Smoke Screen!!! Check out the FairTax Act, go to

    August 8, 2007 09:59 pm at 9:59 pm |
  23. Tricia M Charlottetown PEI

    There is little that could possibly help Edwards' Campaign in my view. But possibly if Elizabeth would go sit in a corner until the Campaign is over he might at least rate fourth.

    I'm sure she means well but many who have meant well have done more damage than good.

    August 8, 2007 10:28 pm at 10:28 pm |
  24. Marla, Redding, CA

    Shame on you, CNN, for posting the inaccurate, mean-spirited comments that you claim you have "reviewed and deemed appropriate for posting."

    The second comment–just one example– states erroneously that John lost his congressional seat. No, James. No, CNN. Get your facts straight. (I can understand a reader wanting to comment with little research under his belt–but what's CNN's excuse for publishing this libel?)

    FACT: After serving his full six-year term, John had the integrity not to run for a second term while he campaigned on the Kerry/Edwards ticket, so as not to be a part-time Senator.

    John and Elizabeth Edwards are a solid, committed, family-oriented, community-serving, generous couple. Their vision for the future is what this nation sorely needs to heal. And from readhing some of these comments, I do mean sorely.

    August 8, 2007 10:53 pm at 10:53 pm |
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