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. Texas Trail Dog!


    August 11, 2008 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  2. v.a.

    amber, seriously? blackmailed into an endorsement??

    lololol get real

    August 11, 2008 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  3. Bobby tray

    sigh. . . .

    August 11, 2008 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  4. Concerned INDEPENDENT CT voter

    Woulda Coulda Shoulda....

    soo lame... lets move forward with the dabtes & November people


    August 11, 2008 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  5. John, Brooklyn, New York

    Get over it. The Clinton campaign demonstrated that they would do anything to win the nomination – even if it meant seriously wounding the credibility of the eventual nomineee. And they STILL lost. Now they are savoring their sour grapes.

    Granted, John Edwards should have come clean about the affair – or decided not to run in the first place. However, even if every Edwards supporter had theoretically clamored to the "Clinton" camp (I, for one, would not have been one of them), and she had won, retrospective bitterness gets you nowhere.

    Get behind your candidate (yes, Obama is your candidate now) or you can live with another 4 years of a Bush administration, Wolfson.

    August 11, 2008 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  6. Typical White Person

    Yet more proof that the media selected the DNC nominee.

    August 11, 2008 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  7. a southern bell for OBAMA






    August 11, 2008 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  8. Kim Frederick

    These were my thoughts exactly. She would have won Iowa and the momentum would have built from there. The media has done a great disservice throughout this campaign to the Clintons and the American people..

    My vote is for McCain 08 now!

    August 11, 2008 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  9. Elariia

    I thought the reason the Clintons lost was because the MSM was in love with Obama? Or because the Democratic establishment was against them? Or because the focus was on delegates, not a big state strategy? Or because of sexism? Or because of...

    August 11, 2008 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  10. Sean from Orlando

    Yeah, and if the DNC had not hand selected Obama she would have won too. If she is not on that ticket me, my family, and a lot of my friends here in FL will be voting McCain instead of Obama this year.

    August 11, 2008 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  11. MD

    Oh jeez...not this again..

    August 11, 2008 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  12. Travis

    All together now Billary Puma whiners.......waaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

    August 11, 2008 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  13. NecieB

    IF – We can't live with What IF's!!!! Obviously the VOTERS didn't want Hillary either-or they would have voted for her when Edwards Dropped lets move on people.

    August 11, 2008 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  14. informed florida voter

    For the sake of this country, I hope Hillary can still win. If the superdelegates did the right thing for this nation, this Obama farce could be put to bed and we could take control in the White House again. Obama will NEVER win the GE. The DNC knows it and the superdelegates know it. Why do they insist on sabatoging the democratic chances of election?
    Nominate her and they will come......

    August 11, 2008 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  15. Pat F

    It's very karmic, isn't it all?

    If her husband HADN'T been a philanderer, she wouldn't be senator and even in the running for president.

    Now she says that if Edwards philandering had been discovered sooner, she would be president.

    I guess if you live by the cheating husband, you die by the cheating husband.

    August 11, 2008 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  16. The Lady

    What does John Edwards have to do with Obama winning the nomination. Once Edwards dropped out of the race majority of his supporters went to Obama.

    August 11, 2008 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  17. Zeb

    Hillary did win, remember? That is, if the people's votes had counted. You deniars will be crying in November, but turnabout's fair play.

    Maybe if Edwards were able to make a commitment, either to his wife or at least to politics, he would have been a factor instead of a wrench in the works.

    McCain '08 Clinton '12

    August 11, 2008 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  18. PhilT

    Wolfson must be kidding. I believe many voters like myself were undecided between Barack and John, but either one was a better alternative to the Clinton machine.

    The time for a change in Washington was upon us. Hillary Clinton represented the old guard as could be seen from her supporter base.


    August 11, 2008 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  19. Melissa

    I live in IA, and I have to say that this shows how out of touch Hillary Clinton can be. My choice was always between Edwards and Obama - there is no one in my precinct who I saw deliberating between Edwards and Clinton. There was a huge percentage of people in IA who simply did not trust Clinton, and having Edwards out of the race would just have likely meant a bigger Obama win.

    All I have to say for Obama in Denver - watch your back with Hillary at your side.

    August 11, 2008 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  20. Peggy - TX

    If horses were dreams we would all ride ....

    Hillary and her advisors are delusional. Edward’s supporters likely would have moved to Obama. After Biden dropped out, I wanted Edwards to win, because by that time, I was already totally unimpressed by what Hillary had to say and how she ran her campaign. Also, I still reset Bill for making a joke of the white house with his affair and tired of Hillary’s stand-by-my-man/Feminist, oxymoron stance. I liked Obama at that time, but did not think the US was ready to overcome the Race issue.

    Hillary’s crazy sexist/racist zealot following scare me because of their seemingly willingness to undermine Obama’s and the Democratic Party’s ambitions to take back the white house.

    August 11, 2008 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  21. Heath

    That's funny, didn't most/all of Edwards' delegates announce their support for Obama? I guess the Clinton cult missed that bit of news. She lost. Get over it. These hypothetical situations that could have happened and led to a Clinton victory are getting ridiculous, old and making Clinton and her supporters look like obsessed freaks. Then again, they tended to look like that during the primary, too.

    August 11, 2008 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  22. AC

    And if my grandfather had had wheels, he would have been a wagon....

    August 11, 2008 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  23. Darin

    Would of, Could of, Should of.... That is all Clinton has. I can't wait until someday we no longer have to get bombarded by Hillary's, her husbandf's and all of their cronies' lies and cries. She lost her entitlement package and did the whole nation a favor. No more of her populist posturing as the Clintons gut the american worker and the poor.
    Good Riddance!

    August 11, 2008 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  24. Give it up

    Can Hillary's supporters ever give it up? It's been several months since Iowa, and Hillary's people remain in denial. Can we stop with the "what if" scenarios? If people knew a lot of things beforehand, we would all be winners at some point in our journeys!

    August 11, 2008 10:43 am at 10:43 am |

    Please! A woman who is fighting incurable cancer was struggling through physical and mental anguish and all you Hillary people can do is meow and whine that she could have won!!!
    May I remind you of all the scandal that would have resurfaced about her "Billy Boy"" about his sexual encounters while SERVING in the White House.. My prayers are with the Edwards. Clintons..please fly to Mars and start your own Party as far away as possible!! Leave Barack alone too!

    August 11, 2008 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
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