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. lisa

    I now see that this will be getting old very soon.
    Hillary just admit loss and go on.

    August 11, 2008 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  2. Enlightened Voter

    And IF I had of bought shares in microsoft back when, i would have been a millionaire. IF, IF, IF... Come on people, she didn't win cause she wasn't meant to win. SHE LOST fair and square and thank GOD. I don't want someone running my country who can't even manage her own campaign or its finances. Plus she is an evil woman, no wonder her supporters are so wicked.

    August 11, 2008 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  3. True Blue

    I cannot believe the mindset of these Clinton people.

    Didn't Bill Clinton have a whole string of affairs, even having intercourse with an intern while his wife was in the same building?

    Under Howard Wolfson's reasoning, Bob Dole could have won in 1996 if Bill Clinton hadn't covered up his affair with Monica.

    The Clintonistas are just so arrogant and hypocritical.

    August 11, 2008 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  4. Carl from MI

    Oh, cry me a river!!! Cry me a river!! Cry me a river!!

    And if a frog had wings he wouldn't bump his butt every time he hopped!! If... if... if... if... if... talk about your sore losers!!! Get over it already!! She lost... go hide in the closet if you're gonna keep crying about it. We'll get you some tissues for your issues....

    August 11, 2008 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  5. Bryan

    If this, if that. You lost! Move on...

    August 11, 2008 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  6. Urbandale

    Whatever, stop whining already

    August 11, 2008 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  7. Mike, TX

    Hillary did win. Count the popular votes. She was cheated out of the nomination by, Coward Dean, Nancy Pelosi and Reid.

    A false hope calling for change (into what no one can say) with no qualifications whatsoever is going to lead the blind.

    August 11, 2008 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  8. Is John Edwards really newsworthy?

    Come on, Clinton Klan. Stop the nonsense. If Edwards was forced to drop out, then Hillary would have won. Well, if Hillary would have gotten more delegates, she would have won. If she would have gotten more superdelegates, she would have won.

    If she would have WON, she would have won.

    This crybaby stuff is getting old and played out. It seems as if they are trying to Sabotage Obama.

    Could you imagine if the roles were reversed and Obama's camp tried this?

    Hillary is done. She won't be president...Ever. It's okay, because neither will I.

    Go away gracefully, Hillary and your staff. It's the last thing that you can control to save face.

    August 11, 2008 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  9. RJ, CA

    THAT'S EXACTLY RIGHT! And THAT is why the ultra liberal media - such as CNN – covered up the Edwards affair until the DNC had handed the nomination to Obama. It was pretty clear during the primary debates that Edwards was NOT particularly enchanted with Obama and his 140 "present" votes in Illinois. The Edwards supporters would definitely have switched to Hillary if this miserable story had been reported when it SHOULD have been reported!

    August 11, 2008 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  10. ugh

    whatEVER! get over it.

    August 11, 2008 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  11. v.a.


    yes, it would have altered the shape of the race, but who's to say it wouldn't have tipped the scale even more for obama? good gosh, stick a fork in it already!

    August 11, 2008 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  12. Amber

    Absolutely Clinton and Edwards supporters were much the same. Which is why the question can be posed: After Edwards left, did Obama's campaign blackmail him into the endorsement? After all, Edwards & Clinton's positions were MUCH more in line with one another. Hmm.... wouldn't surprise me.

    August 11, 2008 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  13. LET IT GO


    August 11, 2008 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  14. NG in DC

    it's absolutely the truth - the media nominated Obama from Day 1.

    It's a joke.

    Former Democrat Still for Hillary.

    Write in candidate 08.

    August 11, 2008 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  15. JimG

    Or if it had rained on the last primary day. Or if it had/hadn't been a full moon. Or if the flying monkey contingent had turned out more strongly for Hillary. Or ....

    Jeez, get over it.

    August 11, 2008 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  16. Bob From Pittsburgh

    Give me a breack...!!!!

    August 11, 2008 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  17. The Nightingale Sings in Berkley Square

    No question about it. The media didn't want Hillary and I suspect that Mr. Dean didn't want her either.

    She is a winner while Obama is risky and a whiner. All he does is complain and he has no resume.

    When you think of Obama, think of the green corn in August in the mid west Nice to look at, big and tall, but not ready for prime time.

    Obama is a loser.

    August 11, 2008 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  18. Marilyn

    The national media chose Obama from the very beginning and did everything they could to make sure he won the nomination. This includes covering up anything that would have helped Clinton, as John Edwards' removal from the race certainly would have helped her. I voted for Edwards in 2004 and again in 2008, but I am so disgusted with him now I would NEVER vote for him again!

    August 11, 2008 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  19. Flip Flopper

    Was for Hillary... Now for McCain.

    I'm a Proud flip flooper!!!

    August 11, 2008 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  20. georgie

    she should have won period. Then the polls wouldn't be so tight. Then we would have a choice of 2 people with experience, not one with experience and one who does what ever the polls tell him to and then has the press cover it up for him. Now wait, isn't that what they did for edwards? why didn't the main stream media pick up on the story years ago? I guess they were to busy covering up for obama! trying to make obama look like god.

    August 11, 2008 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  21. jolo

    get over yourselfs "clinton camp"

    August 11, 2008 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  22. YES WE CAN!


    August 11, 2008 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  23. rhoward

    So Howard Wolfson is now a psychic? Give me a break! He's knows as much about the future as I do.

    He conveniently forgets it's his bad advice that helped cost Senator Clinton the nomination.

    August 11, 2008 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  24. Chris from San Antonio


    August 11, 2008 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  25. Marc

    Okay, Obamabots. Go easy... Wolfson is just stating a fact. He's not campaigning for Hillary to be the nominee. Don't worry... it all fell into place for your boy.

    August 11, 2008 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
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