ABC’s George Stephanopoulos reported that he has talked to John Edwards campaign staffers who say they would have sabotaged his campaign if it looked like Edwards was going to win the Democratic nomination for President.
STEPHANOPOULOS: They go together. Meanwhile, Elizabeth Edwards was out talking this week about her husband, his campaign, and the affair that could’ve doomed it had it been doing better.
She went on Oprah this week to talk about it. I think it had a lot of people scratching their heads. But at one point we learned that Elizabeth Edwards found out about it two days after John Edwards announced he was running for president. Then remember three months later there was a recurrence of her cancer. And Oprah asks her, why didn’t you get out then?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OPRAH WINFREY, TALK SHOW HOST: I’m surprised because I think that would have been your — that was a way out. That was a way out.
ELIZABETH EDWARDS, JOHN EDWARDS WIFE: It was.
WINFREY: Considering the fact that you already knew that there had been an affair.
EDWARDS: I knew that there’d been a night. That’s all I knew.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: Now, Cokie, Elizabeth Edwards is an enormously sympathetic and appealing, but I think a lot of people wondering. What is this about?
ROBERTS: I’m very puzzled. I’m an admirer of Elizabeth Edwards. I’ve felt all along that people had their nerve to criticize her for staying in the race when she knew that her cancer had recurred, all that. I think that people get to make their own decisions about these things.
This one just puzzles me because of her children. I don’t understand how — how they get through this public exposure without being hurt.
DONALDSON: It’s Elizabeth Edwards’ revenge. And some people say exactly right. She has it coming to be able to do this. But the time to have done it in some senses was when she was standing up by her husband, knowing about this, whatever part of it she knew about, saying, you’d make a great president and following him along. Why was
that? Why did she do that?
Remember George W. Bush had a press secretary, Scott McClellan, who stood in the press room and carried the water right down the line and then wrote a book denouncing everything that he had done, saying he was terrible. There is something smarmy about that.
REICH: Well, I — you know, I keep asking myself, what is the great public tragedy here? And the answer I come up with is the loss — despite his, you know, personal indiscretions of a man who was almost the single voice in the campaigns for the poor, an advocate for the poor, somebody who really was concerned about it, I’m sorry that
his public persona is over. His public office is over.
WILL: The public — the tragedy would have been if he had won. I mean, suppose the man had — and you can reconfigure Iowa in some ways since he takes off and anything can happen. Suppose he got the Democratic nomination…
STEPHANOPOULOS: You know, that wasn’t going to happen. I’ve actually talked to a lot of former Edwards staffers about this, and it’s amazing to me, I mean, they had their doubts. They believed up until December that this was not true. By December and January, several people in his circle started to think, you know what, this is
probably true, this may be…
ROBERTS: You mean, the affair.
STEPHANOPOULOS: The affair. It may be true. And they actually had something of a doomsday strategy. Several of them had gotten together and basically said, if it looks like he is going to win, we’re going to sabotage the campaign, we’re going to blow it up.
ROBERTS: Oh my goodness.
ROBERTS: And why do that? Why not just get out of the campaign or why not go public in the first place?
STEPHANOPOULOS: The answer they give is that in December and January, he probably wasn’t going to win. Why bring everybody through it? But then if he were, they were saying they’re Democrats first and they would have found the way to get the information out so that he was not the nominee.
DONALDSON: But if they let it sabotage the campaign, it looked like it might be successful, for whatever reason, the political reason, it would…
STEPHANOPOULOS: But their point would be that it wasn’t going to be successful.
DONALDSON: Well, then, why not get out early? I agree with Cokie, there is some moral imperative here that bothers me.
ROBERTS: And also, it could have had an impact on the eventual nominee. Now I don’t buy into this theory. But there is a theory that if John Edwards had not been in there that it might have been to the benefit of Hillary Clinton. Now, I — you know, I think — I think it was Barack Obama’s year. But I…
DONALDSON: Yes, but in Iowa, two-thirds of white people voted for someone other than Barack Obama because they split the vote, Edwards and Clinton.
ROBERTS: I mean, so if you say his staffers were going to sabotage him…
STEPHANOPOULOS: They had suspicions, right.
ROBERTS: … eventually, they — I mean, they really should have done it up front then. But the arrogance of all of this is just so overwhelming to me. I mean, to get into a presidential campaign while performing in such a manner is just, you know, I deserve it, it’s all about me. And it’s just, blech.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And did he really think that he could make it all the way through? We’re just about out of time here.
This video is from ABC’s This Week, broadcast May 10, 2009.