August 11th, 2008
01:45 PM ET
14 years ago

Clinton aide: If affair pushed Edwards out, she would have won

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Clinton is stumping for Obama – but aides still wonder what might have been."]
(CNN) - If reporters had nabbed former presidential candidate John Edwards lying about his extramarital affair, Hillary Clinton would have captured the Democratic presidential nomination, her former communications director said.

"I believe we would have won Iowa, and Clinton today would therefore have been the nominee," Howard Wolfson told in an interview released Monday, because internal campaign polling showed "our voters and Edwards voters were the same people. They were older, pro-union. Not all, but maybe two-thirds of them would have been for us and we would have barely beaten Obama." Share your thoughts on the Edwards scandal

Two months after Edwards first denied rumors of the affair, Barack Obama's win in the Iowa caucuses - and Clinton's third-place showing behind Edwards - fundamentally altered the shape of the race.

"Any of the campaigns that would have tried to push that [rumor] would have been burned by it," said Wolfson, who said he did not understand why, in his view, the national media had not aggressively reported the story. "I can't say I understand the rules of the media and I'm not sure they do either."

Clinton officials have long blamed the media for her failure to live up to pre-vote expectations.

Obama's campaign has disputed the idea that Edwards voters were natural Clinton voters if he were to exit the race, pointing to the fact that once the former North Carolina senator dropped out, Obama immediately went on to a string of victories, racking up 11 in a row. They also say that anti-war liberals in Iowa would not have supported Clinton, given her vote authorizing the use of force in Iraq.

The available numbers tend to argue against Wolfson's point of view, says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.

Among Edwards voters in Iowa, CNN polling indicated that Obama was the second choice of 43 percent, and Clinton of 24 percent, with 11 percent naming other candidates.

"Since Edwards got 30 percent of the vote, we can estimate that if Edwards had not been in the race, Obama would have picked up an additional 13 percentage points, and Clinton would have picked up an additional 7 percentage points," says Holland. "So hypothetically, if Edwards had not been in the race, Obama would have still won the Iowa caucuses by a 51 to 37 percent margin."

Filed under: Hillary Clinton
soundoff (288 Responses)
  1. Diana, Anacortes, WA

    No, it would have given Obama larger lead.

    August 11, 2008 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  2. BJ, Texas

    The media had the Edwards story all along but chose to sit on so the messaih would surely win. Now we're stuck with the Nobama idiot. Sounds like a cover-up and a conspiracy to me.

    Vote Republican!

    August 11, 2008 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  3. McCain=McSame, Toledo, Ohio

    Anything to keep it in the news....she lost because of the campaign she ran and the American People did not like it.

    Accept reality and move on.

    August 11, 2008 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  4. Pedro

    Oh shut up already!

    August 11, 2008 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  5. DC Steve

    My God...Hillary Clinton and her supporters are starting to re-define the phrase sore looser! Get over it for God's sake.

    August 11, 2008 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  6. Brett

    Jesus will this ever stop? Are the Clinton's and their supporters the only Democrats in America, cause it seems that they're self entitlement continues to grow? I'm over it, so should the Clinton camp. Give McCain the office, and I promise you'll feel and look just as stupid as the people who voted in GW twice.

    August 11, 2008 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  7. cevans, tx

    If, ands or buts...give us a break...bottom line she lost...the end...

    August 11, 2008 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  8. Mike, TX

    Get real people. Obama is NOT the best candidate. Hillary was by far the strongest candidate out there the dems had to offer. That the media (and you) got carried away by the oratory skills of a politician is, while sad, not new (Hitler, Mussolini, Castro, Chavez, etc.).

    Obama is a good speaker, that's it. That you cannot see this amid all the cries for "change" is just pathetic.

    August 11, 2008 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  9. GerryM

    Earth to Hillary: you lost the nomination to Obama. Let it go!

    August 11, 2008 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  10. Dexter

    Yeah, and if grandma had balls, she'd be grandpa.

    August 11, 2008 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  11. Vigla

    The Democratic party is Moderate and has been fro some time now. There are no "liberal" parties except maybe the socialst party or the green party. I'm tired of hearing from conservatives that Democrats are liberals. It's just not true. Sorry...

    August 11, 2008 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  12. non white & non-black person

    this is another stupid pathetic ploy to force us americans to vote for the worst candidate in US history, HILLARY CLINTON. She hasn't achieved anything in this world except take credit for Ted kennedy's healthcare plans/ideas.

    This is why I hate Hillary and her campaign. they have been telling americans they won the race and that Barack is an inadequate black man. This is so wrong on all levels, and no she would not have won. The final popular vote numbers are not accurate, no one in the media seemed to take into account the 200,000 republicans who voted for Hillary by the persuasion of Rush Limbaugh's "Operation chaos". And all the caucus states that didn't get counted by the Clinton campaign.

    please post

    August 11, 2008 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  13. JC FROM NJ

    Wow people are still backtracking...When will people realize that the nomination was not stolen, there was no conspiracy, Florida and Michigan was not one man's master plan, and Obama was the better candidate chosen by the people.
    A true winner does not just just squeak by on a technicality. Hillary was supposed to have had this nomination by a landslide. How could Barack come in and 'sneak' or 'steal' it if it really belonged to Hillary?

    Vote McSame and watch Hillary be humbled by the Republican president!

    August 11, 2008 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
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