August 30th, 2007
03:03 PM ET
15 years ago

Elizabeth Edwards: Clinton 'hatred' will energize GOP

Elizabeth Edwards told TIME 'hatred' of Clinton will energize the GOP.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Elizabeth Edwards, the outspoken wife of Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards, says her husband is more electable than rival Hillary Clinton because "hatred" of the New York Democrat will energize Republicans.

β€œI don't know where it comes from. I don't begin to understand it. But you can't pretend it doesn't exist, and it will energize the Republican base," Mrs. Edwards said in an interview with Time Magazine.

"Their nominee won't energize them, Bush won't, but Hillary as the nominee will. It's hard for John to talk about, but it's the reality," she added.

Mrs. Edwards has increasingly assumed a visible role in her husband's campaign and has made several sharp statements, including a strong critique of New York Sen. Hillary Clinton's record on women's issues, a biting characterization of Illinois Sen. Barack Obama as "holier than thou," and a confrontation with conservative commentator Ann Coulter on MSNBC.

She also came under fire last month for telling an interviewer, "we can't make John black, we can't make him a woman" and argued her husband receives less media attention because he lacks the interesting stories of his chief rivals.

Addressing those controversial comments, Edwards told Time, "The media goes to this very engaging story about a legitimate woman candidate and a legitimate candidate with an African-American heritage, and that drives up their fund-raising numbers. Then the media folks say, 'See, that proves we were right to focus on these two candidates.'"

β€œIt's enough to make you tear your hair out," she added.

The Clinton campaign has yet to respond to CNN's request for comment on Mrs. Edwards' remarks.

TIME.com: John Edwards Bets the Farm

- CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney

soundoff (195 Responses)
  1. Maurice, Washington, DC

    I love Elizabeth Edward but I wish she'd just be quiet and let her husband do the talking. Stop emasculating your husband.

    I can't believe she bought into that 'double talk' from Karl Rove. Rove and his people know this for sure: Hillary is the one candidate that will give them a run for their money. She won't let herself be defined by the Republican machine as John Kerry did. I can never comprehend how a decorated War veteran like Kerry lost the election to a draft dodging silver spoon fed dummy like Bush. There is no way you can go through the Republican attack machine for 8 years in the White House like Hillary and not come out with high negatives. But as people get to know Hillary they get to change their minds about those Republican manufactured perceptions. Her negatives have been decreasing since she declared her candidacy.

    Every other candidate has so many huddles to overcome. Rather than let Karl Rove deceive you about Hillary energizing the GOP, I would hope the democrats would energize their base to rally around their nominee.

    August 30, 2007 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  2. Rachel, Pensacola, Florida

    Might I remind all the Bush-haters of Congress' approval rating? As of Aug. 22, a new Gallup Poll shows that Congress' approval rating is just 18 percent, the lowest since Gallup started tracking it in 1974.

    How are you going to pin that one on George?

    August 30, 2007 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  3. Chelsea Anne Garen, Vista, California

    Mrs Edwards, you just relax ! Whether or not your husband will win, it's up to your husband's performance. If you speak more, it won't help your husband for the bid of president 2008.

    Mrs Clinton's saying is not serious as your saying ! I don't think that it is all her meaning. Please don't mix up.

    Mrs Hillary Clinton and Mr. John Edwards could be very good together for the presidents for our American 2008.

    August 30, 2007 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  4. Kwang Won, Austin, TX

    I read the Time article on the Edwards'. John Edwards discussing healthcare reform is a joke. He help create the problem, and he expects Americans to believe he can remedy it. I guess he got his piece of the malpractice pie and is ready to jump on the bandwagon of healthcare reform to get elected. I highly doubt is looking out for the "little guy." Mr. Edwards, why not start by apologizing for aiding in the inflation of our healthcare costs from your sketchy malpractice lawsuits. Then you can start discussing healthcare reform.

    August 30, 2007 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  5. Clay, Savannah, Georgia

    I don't think it is that John is not speaking, it is more the media can hype, spin, or get a rise out of the audience with more of Elizabeth's comments.

    Elizabeth is a lawyer, as is John. She is an effective speaker, but often more abrasive in tone than John, hence John's remarkable success as a litigator. It is also the reason the media can "do more/sell more" with some of her statements.

    Any spouse that would prefer to sit at home, or chill on the sidelines, while the other is on the campaign trail opens the door to another media spin....marital problems.

    If she weren't on the road with John, giving the support she has, John would be lambasted with questions regarding his priorities for not sitting alongside his wife during her ordeal with battling cancer.

    Chill out America, this is a strong showing of family values, and you're missing it because you'd rather focus on "out of context" negatives without conclusive proof.

    Take each candidate and make your decisions on who's values are more akin to yours.

    Basing a presidential vote merely on race, gender, or party affiliation is outdated and we're slowly learning/evolving to a society that bases their votes on a personal level.

    We have the Bush administration to thank for this. They have shown us that basing your vote, merely on political affiliation, is quite ignorant.

    Fool me once, shame on you...Fool me twice, we'll give you a second term.

    I think America's been shown by the issues in Iraq, the rampant lust for page's, and bathroom escapades that the anti-(place what will get them elected, i.e. homosexuality, abortions, etc) stances of the current Republican electorate is a farce to get them elected.

    I do not claim any party affiliation, I claim my morals and values and see who fits MY bill on election day.

    August 30, 2007 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  6. Marq, Austin, TX

    I'm confused do we have two female candidates for presidents.

    What happen to John Edwards?

    Elizabeth is doing all of the campaigning and stump speeches while Johnny boy is seating back playing with his hair

    August 30, 2007 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  7. west columbia, SC

    You GO Girl !!

    Finally someone who speaks the TRUTH !!

    Edwards is the ONLY potential nominee that can beat the repubes. I just wish more Americans would wake up and see that.

    Thank you Elizabeth, for trying to make something, that SHOULD be obvious, easier to understand.

    Keep it up, and you'll be in the WhiteHouse before you know it.

    Go EDWARDS/OBAMA !!

    August 30, 2007 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  8. Ron - Newark NJ

    She's on the money – Elizabeth is not affraid to speak the truth – we all need to start listening to both she and John – They obviously have fresh and real ideas! GO E!

    August 30, 2007 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  9. Jane, Seattle WA

    Is John Edwards ever going to start speaking out of his own mouth, or stop prefacing every sentence with "my wife Elizabeth says?".

    August 30, 2007 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  10. Joe Piscopolous, Denver, CO

    How about Elizabeth Edwards for president? She can have John as her VP.

    August 30, 2007 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  11. Robert & Isabel Martin,Southbury, Connecticut

    I was torn between voting for Edwards and Clinton BUT with the STING and HATRED Mrs. Edwards has for Hilary I really do not think Edwards is right for the job. He was doing fine UNTIL SHE opened her mouth(Mrs. Edwards). I feel sorry for her because of the cancer but I think it has made her ugly and full of hatred and it is coming out in Edwards campaign. She should go back home NOW! He might still have a chance to win. HE is a LOVING and GOOD man.
    Thank you,

    August 30, 2007 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  12. Jane Rees, Shady Cove, OR

    I consider this tactic to be sleezy and unbecoming a presidential candidate. I don't care if Edwards actually said it or not. It came from his campaign and he is responsible.

    August 30, 2007 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  13. Casey, Atlanta Georgia

    First of all, I am a diehard democrat who understands, like 70%, of the country we need change. We need real change, specifically getting a democrat in the White House. I truly believe John is the best candidate to win the general election – hands down. For those of you not in political science or do not truly pay attention, Republicans would love Hillary to be the candidate (e.g. such Rove, Giuliani, etc.). They did the same thing in 2004 with Kerry – I wish democrats would smarten up and see this and not allow the Repubs to fool them again. I also could care less if John gets a $400 haircut once in a while – I am sure we all spend more money than we should on things at times...the fact is he has devoted his life, particularly the past years, to helping those less fortunate and continuously talks about it, which goes much further than a charitable contribution here and there for tax purposes or recognition. It is a weak argument; he has worked hard and become very successful but does not live like a King by any means. Whoever says Elizabeth is running her mouth too much or basically running herself is just not paying attention at all and showing ignorance. CNN just has chosen to oftentimes highlight her words more than John's. He also does not run on her cancer and think it is despicable someone believes that – right up there with the ranks of Coulter. On the whole many democrats have lost their way and letting the far left run the show – it is time to wise up and look at overall electability, which I believe is very slowly starting to happen (whoever said his poll numbers keep going down is also not paying attention). Depending on which poll you choose to look at he is leading in Iowa and closing in very quickly to Obama overall (see Rasmussen Reports). I think Hillary, who is really a moderate and very pro-business and anti-labor, would be a better fit as secretary of state or even our next Supreme Court Judge. I admire someone who speaks their mind and with passion – Elizabeth truly cares about people and believes her husband will be the best person to lead this country out the deep whole we have been lead into. I also admire John for not dictating to his wife what she can and cannot say (within reason). I was originally for HRC but after doing more research and following the campaigns (reading speeches, policies, debates, etc), it seems a no-brainer to me that John is the best candidate to have on the ticket. Why not even Edwards-Obama?!

    August 30, 2007 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  14. Big Ben Rock Hill SC

    To those who attack Edwards because of his wealth and big house:

    As one who is a seventy-eight year old I thank God that we once had a very rich president who lived in a big house. He fought for the common people of this nation.

    His big house was called Hyde Park and his name was Franklin Roosevelt.

    One of the best presidents this nation has ever had.

    August 30, 2007 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  15. Ron, TX

    It's the truth. And it's not just that Clinton will energize the Republican base- it's that moderate republicans are fed up with their party, and many will vote democrat as long as it's not Hillary. Meanwhile, Clinton doesn't inspire anyone to vote democrat- people would just be voting for a democrat to not have a Republican. That's the same useless idea that democrats tried to use last time- Anyone but Bush! And Kerry lost.

    She just can inspire people. How many tens of thousands show up to her speech compared to the next leading candidate? How many donors have given to her campaign? Not very many... She inspires no one.

    August 30, 2007 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  16. Myron, Honolulu, Hi

    That's OK since WE ALL HATE BUSH and That Energizes US
    πŸ˜‰

    August 30, 2007 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  17. Tricia M Charlottetown PEI

    I'm not an American and thus do not have a vote BUT if I did it certainly wouldn't be for Edwards and certainly not for any Republican Candidate.

    I've been close to Cancer Victims and I just can't understand where Elizabeth Edwards gets the strength and stamina to take such a front and center role in HER HUSBAND'S CAMPAIGN. John mays well just give her his ticket as it's clear she's calling the shots and writing the attack speeches. Edwards hasn't got a chance now thanks to Elizabeth. And I doubt she'll be able to feel any sense of accomplishment in the support she gave to John's Campaign.

    As far as hurting Hillary's chances. Elizabeth mays well throw in the towel. She boosts Hillary's popularity and voting margins every time she opens her mouth!

    I don't know Elizabeth Edwards and I'm not attacking her as a person. But, as the wife of a Presidential Candidate in my view, she has alot to learn about support. And I really feel it's too bad that she has given John such a negative image.

    August 30, 2007 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  18. Providence, RI

    To Casey: I have Juris Doctor (J.D.), which is a law degree, and I am wise enough to choose Hillary over Eddy boy. Eddy is phony, fake, artificial, and inconsistent. His wife has a BIG MOUTH. He made profits from Katrina morgage forclosureS. Did you notice his gestures during the debate? It does not match with his "One America" theme. He is for poor? You beleive that? You must be NAIVE!!!

    August 30, 2007 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  19. J.Murphy

    Lizzi, sit down, & shutup. Your the best thing that the Republicans have speaking for them. John, ask your wife if you can go to the bathroom, and leave the race. Your not gonna win anyway, so just go. Hillary/Obama that's my Ticket.

    August 30, 2007 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  20. David, Frisco Texas

    Mrs. Edwards is exactly right even though most of the Democratic Party elite don't want to hear it. Hillary Clinton cannot be elected President. To do so, she would have to win a majority of independent voters, and they are not with her. They recognize her constant pandering to which ever group she is adressing at the time. We know where John Edwards stands on the issues. Good luck pinning Hillary down on anything. She is much slicker than Willie.

    August 30, 2007 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  21. Ed,Ellenville,New York

    We all recognize John's attributes,but would you guys please shut up?We have Hillary on the front lines and I'd like to enjoy watching her rev up the radical right to the point of implosion.We can ponder the obvious at convention time please.Enough said about Edwards.

    August 30, 2007 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  22. Patrick, Albuquerque, NM

    Mrs. Edwards knows exactly what the Republicans know - Hilary Clinton will bring out every hillbilly from the swamps to vote Republican. Clinton is a she-devil. I doubt the Democrats will listen to her - I hope not.

    August 30, 2007 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  23. Carla John, Marietta, Georgia

    Why does John Edwards need his wife to speak for him. Her mean and somewhat racist comments are hurting him. I will not vote for him at all just because of their character.

    August 30, 2007 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  24. Woburn, Ma

    Somehow I don't think picking a candidate that doesn't inspire your own base to avoid offending the other party's base is not the winning stragey.
    Senator Clinton has rocked the debates, and has avoided any stupid comments. If she continues to do that, the Republicans will look like nuts if they go off the deep end about things from a decade ago. In fact, after Bush, I am not sure the Republicans should ever mention the Bill Clinton Presidency again, unless they want to say Madam President a lot, and give the Democrats a super majority.

    August 30, 2007 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  25. susan, glen ellyn, Il.

    I think Elizabeth is right on the money. The issue is like an elephant in the room that no one talks about. Also enjoyed this in-depth piece on Edwards:
    http://www.mensvogue.com/business/politics/feature/articles/2007/06/john_edwards

    August 30, 2007 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
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