Friday, April 20, 2007

As John Edwards travels the country, he's sticking to his message

By Jonathan Darman

April 9, 2007 issue - After Bill Clinton, there is perhaps no spouse in the 2008 presidential race as powerful as Elizabeth Edwards. She is her husband's closest adviser and toughest enforcer. She has her own fund-raising following. She revises drafts of some of John's speeches. Outsiders angling for staff positions get grilled intensively by the candidate—and his wife. "This doesn't require any parsing of words," John Edwards says. "Elizabeth is involved in everything."
Now Edwards and his top counselor are facing their toughest campaign challenge yet: how to manage her future on the trail. In the two weeks since the Edwardses learned that Elizabeth's breast cancer has returned and is incurable, the couple has seen an outpouring of support.
Lance Armstrong, a family friend, called. So did George H.W. Bush, who suggested a specialist at Houston's M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. The campaign raised $540,000 online in the week after Elizabeth's announcement. In the latest NEWSWEEK Poll, 56 percent of adults think Edwards made the right decision by staying in the race; only 12 percent think he is trying to use his wife's illness to his own political advantage. "When I walk down the street I can't move," John tells NEWSWEEK. "People stop me: 'How's Elizabeth? We're thinking about her'."

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