GUTSY Elizabeth Edwards Not Part of Endorsement–Outshines Husband in “Courage of Convictions” Department (only a week after couple tells “People” they won’t endorse) (UPDATED)(UPDATE 2)

In my post on the Edwards endorsement of Obama posted yesterday, I commented that I didn’t know what Elizabeth Edwards thought about it.

Well, it’s now pretty clear that she may have thought differently about her husband’s decision.

According to the AP,

Edwards didn’t even tell many of his former top advisers because he wanted to inform Clinton personally, said the person close to him. Edwards’ wife, Elizabeth, who has said she thinks Clinton has the superior health care plan, did not travel with him to Michigan and is not part of the endorsement.

As recently as May 5, it was apparent that the couple were not totally on the same page.

In a People Magazine interview entitled “John and Elizabeth Edwards: What We Like (and Dislike) about Clinton and Obama” , Elizabeth had some pointed reactions to some of what John was saying:

But, she adds: “I don’t like his health care plan or his advertising on health care, which I think is misleading.”

John Edwards Speaks Out

Her husband, who said he got yet another phone call from Obama as recently as last week (both Clinton and Obama have heavily courted the Edwardses’ endorsement, and Mrs. Edwards said she had an email from one of the campaigns that very morning), also weighed in on the pros and cons.

On Clinton: “I like something different about Hillary. I think her tenacity shows a real strength that’s inside her.”

What doesn’t he like about Clinton? “Um, still a lot of the old politics,” John Edwards said.

As for Obama, he says: “Sometimes I want to see more substance under the rhetoric.”

But he cited two things he likes about the charismatic young senator from Illinois: “One is, I think he really does want to bring about serious change and a different way of doing things. And secondly, I think it’s a great symbolic thing to have an African-American who could be president.”

Differing Opinions?

At that, Mrs. Edwards rolled her eyes and, gripping the arms of her kitchen chair with some exaggeration, seemed about to lunge from her seat. “What about the great symbolic thing about a woman …”

“It’s important. It’s important,” her husband said. “I know it.”

Bottom line: the couple said they will not endorse either remaining candidate, saving their political capital for their own causes – his, fighting poverty; hers, fighting for universal health care.

Just a week later, John Edwards reneged on that statement.

If John Edwards “knew” that the symbolism of a woman candidate was important, not only to the electorate but also to his wife, he apparently forgot as he made his speech on Wednesday. He also seemed to stray from his hopes for health care for all Americans to support a candidate whose plan does not offer universal coverage…and he definitely chose to ignore his wife’s support of the Clinton plan which does require universality and support Obama’s which his own wife describes as “misleading.” He also apparently shelved any qualms he may have had with the the “Harry and Louise” ads that Obama copied from the GOP and used against Clinton (a real indicator of “change,” I suppose).

And Clinton’s pledge to elevate the issue of poverty through the creation of a cabinet-level position in her administration was discounted as well.

So, does Edwards support help Obama or does it just make Edwards look like an opportunistic follower? I think it’s the latter, I’m sad to say, as a former Edwards supporter.

Of course, there is the “coincidence” of a sudden email from John Edwards asking for money for his “College for Everyone” project. I’m glad he’s mentioning this again, especially because he has had no real involvement with the Poverty Institute at UNC since he announced it’s creation in February 2005. The “College for Everyone” project was also started in 2005 after Edwards first talked about it during the 2004 campaign. I’m hoping that the new focus on this project is in deference to Elizabeth, who has been involved in several education-related activities in the past:

She shares her husband’s commitment to serving the community and expanding educational opportunities for all children. She volunteered with the Parent Teacher Associations at the children’s schools, and has been active in their youth soccer leagues in several roles….In 1996, they helped establish the Wade Edwards Foundation and helped build a computer learning center – the Wade Edwards Learning Lab – for youngsters in Raleigh…. Despite the demands of raising two young children, she finds the time to participate in community service. She remains active in the Wade Edwards Foundation and is involved in a variety of charitable efforts, including fundraising for the March of Dimes benefit. She also serves on several boards, including the UNC Board of Visitors and Books for Kids. (Announcement, Pace Law School visit, 2/25/2004.)

Perhaps he figured that hooking up with the Obama campaign and creating a higher profile would help bring in a lot of money for this project (and maybe an appointment in an Obama adminstration). But, in the end, the move may be viewed more cynically and wind up tarnishing the goal that was perhaps intended…which would be a very sad result in the long run.

Even if John Edwards had a “nobler” purpose behind his endorsement than just a hope for a political gain, the fact is that Elizabeth didn’t travel with him and made clear that she wasn’t part of his endorsement. We’ll never know the full extent of their differences on this situation, but one thing is clear and that is that Elizabeth Edwards still has the guts to stick to her convictions.


John Edwards also forgot how Obama practically stole his announcement speech (Link to video showing side by side comparison) or how in the Nevada debate, he remarked on how Obama had accepted more money from Big Pharma which Edwards claimed was hurting Americans directly and how this issue was very important to him.

UPDATE 2 May 19, 2008

Guess what?  I came across a reference to Kate Michelman supporting Obama aftrer Edwards dropped out!