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. gl

    I just don't understand why Hillary Clinton and her supporters accept that she lose fair and sqaure. Obama can say the same thing about Edward affair. She is just a sore loser and I am so sick of hearing about her.

    August 11, 2008 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  2. California Voter

    Looks like Hillary Clinton isn't the only woman in the world who "stood by her man" after he had and "affair", and probably won't be the last.

    August 11, 2008 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  3. Phil-Texas

    It wouldn't have mattered afer Bill blew it for Hillary the fat lady was singing at the top of her lungs!!!!!!

    August 11, 2008 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  4. jsg

    Give it uuuuup...........................
    Is there anyone or organization that the Clintons do not blame for their failure to capture the White House once again in order to make fools of the country? Their story would make a great country and western song.

    August 11, 2008 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  5. Eric

    If Perot had not competed, Bill would not have won.
    If Hillary had won Iowa, she wouldn't have cried in NH.
    If Bill had not shared a cigar with Monica, Gore would be cheering Americans in Beijiing. And the list goes on. What's the point? This campaign, over and buried, still amazes us by their inability to do anything right so they have to blame others for their own faults. Thank God that woman never became the President.

    August 11, 2008 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  6. Ted

    What is it with this "would of could have if this if that " Crap. OMG. so many say they could have won if this and if that. Get over it. this lady needs a Reality check. freakin sour looser. it is just destroying her for 2008. she will be labeled as the "Whinner"

    August 11, 2008 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  7. Bukky

    Still tossing out excuses

    August 11, 2008 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  8. gl

    If I would have played the lottery today and hit I would have been have million by now. Same thing with this story. If, IF, AND IF. Too bad if don't count! The Clintons are hurting the party and they just don't care.

    August 11, 2008 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  9. Peter

    Oh get over it! Obama is the guy vote for him or get McBush. Its Simple.

    August 11, 2008 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  10. rachel

    Stop it cnn. Leave it alone quite trying to cause problems. And people before the hate starts Hillary didnt say this and the aide is stupid.

    August 11, 2008 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  11. oh my god

    oh no ! not another "if..." from another clinton supporter

    don't these people get it ... she lost the nomination... fair and square... no way to circumvent that reality...

    August 11, 2008 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  12. Seth in Jacksonville

    Oh please. Holy cow. It's over, Hillary. You will NOT be the next President or even Vic President. Let it go. You lost.

    August 11, 2008 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  13. proud army and navy mom

    OMG....get over it, Hillary lost.

    those rumors about Edwards were being reported on. If you all were doing your job instead of trying to smear Sen Obama, you could have used some of your money to investigate the allegations.

    Instead of attacking the real losers, you spent time and energy attackintg a good moral man, but I don't expect you Hillary people to feel bad about that because most of you are uneducated.

    August 11, 2008 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  14. DIY

    I believe that the outcome of the Dem primaries would have been to Sen. Clinton's advantage had this story been pressed. It seems to me that she has been thrown under the bus by the DNC. All of those PUMAs out there should be quite riled by this!

    August 11, 2008 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  15. Steve, Jacksonville, Florida

    Yawn--More "what ifs" for the Hilllary campaign.

    August 11, 2008 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  16. Charles

    So this is how you're going to go about building a stronger party? You blame your loss on the timing of another candidates exit? Why couldn't you simply attract those voters yourself in the first place? I could see if you fiinished second there but you didn't. You were third. That's just a sad statement at this time to make. Pathetic.

    August 11, 2008 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  17. jojodancer1119

    The Hillary camp will never give it up. Talk about sore loser........

    August 11, 2008 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  18. Not Wolfie

    Obama and Edwards supporters were a lot closer than Clinton and Edwards ones. Wolfson had better look in the mirror as he's one of the big reasons Hillary lost. Mark Penn and Bill Clinton can look in the same mirror. Will this guy ever go away?

    August 11, 2008 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  19. BxGrrl

    Woulda, coulda, shoulda – what difference does it make now?

    August 11, 2008 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  20. monkeyboy


    man, she'll say anything, won't she? she didn't lose, she woulda won, etc etc. i tell you how she'dve won – with more votes. america didn't want her, and still doesn't. take it back to arkansas and find some more land deals, lady. you'll never be president of this country...

    August 11, 2008 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  21. Barbara - 65 yr old white female in NC

    If wishes were horses, beggars would ride.

    Obama '08

    August 11, 2008 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  22. missouri for obama

    could have, would have let's move on

    August 11, 2008 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  23. Terry from VA

    Howard should quit crying. The truth is, had she been a better candidate you would have won the nomination. Just because she may have won Iowa, and there is no way to know that now, it does not mean that she would have won any of the other state than the ones she did win. None.

    Howard has short term selective memory, just like he and the campaign had during the primaries. The race is over, you lost and move on. Crying about it makes you look small and petty... oh wait that is who you are.

    August 11, 2008 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  24. Mike D

    Once agin I am shocked at what I see. The Clintons did not want Obama to win. Thats why Bills been acting like a baby. Any other time he would be in front of every camera he could find. But now hes got to much on his plate. Like What ever. They want the White House so bad they would , hate on Obama and put a negative stero type on there own heads. WOW This goes to show that anyone can have a serious mental issue and still have power and money..... Owww power and money make people crazy.... yeah there we go!

    August 11, 2008 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  25. gl

    Mention of Edward affair could have also be a down fall for the Clintons becasue it would have reminded everybody of Bill Clinton affair so there is not way she can say this type of statment.

    August 11, 2008 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
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