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The Courtship of John Edwards

Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) greets supporters at a campaign rally at the Beeghly Center at Youngstown State University Feb. 18 in Youngstown, Ohio. (Getty Images)

By Peter Slevin
YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio -- The courtship of John Edwards has been entirely inconclusive, Sen. Barack Obama said this afternoon, one day after he flew from Chicago to North Carolina to seek the support of his vanquished rival.

Edwards is not likely to endorse Obama or Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton soon, the Illinois senator concluded after visiting with Edwards and his wife, Elizabeth. He said he listened to their "reflections" on the campaign and shared his ideas about the likes of health care, foreign policy and the future of the Democratic Party.

"What I told him," Obama said, "is that I want him to be deeply involved in whatever we do."

Obama plainly wants an endorsement from Edwards, a southerner who drew support from the unions and working-class voters coveted by Obama. He made his first pitch the day after Edwards quit the race, and the two men have spoken by telephone since.

But he suggested that the value of Edwards's backing would have its limits.

"I think John still has an enormous following, I think he has a lot of credibility and so we would love to have his support," Obama said. "But right now, what I think is most important is for me to make sure that I am getting out and talking to voters."

What will be "most helpful ultimately," Obama said, "is that the people have a sense that I will be fighting for them in the White House, that my priorities are their priorities. If they know that, then the endorsements will probably have less sway."

A fighter in the White House?

That's what Edwards used to say.

By Web Politics Editor  |  February 18, 2008; 5:43 PM ET
Categories:  Barack Obama  
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Next: Use Patrick's Words? Obama Says, 'Yes We Can'


Edwards has no obligation to support either and any choice he makes is likely to end his political career unless he is chosen by one of them as VP - an unlikely outcome weeks ago, but perhaps likely now.

With Hillary's current primary status, it's unlikely that Edwards' endorsement now will help her, and VP status with Obama seems unlikely for Edwards.

He may want to sit out this one.

Posted by: pbr1 | February 19, 2008 9:17 PM | Report abuse

The corporate-owned cesspool of a media can drop dead.

Posted by: framecop | February 19, 2008 8:06 PM | Report abuse

universal health care, what a lofty concept but how does it work out in reality to a poor family barely making ends meet to face the fiscal impact of financial mandate? sick or well i would prefer choice and the liberty of prioritizing my financiers to how i see best for the circumstances. i would prefer not to be in a position where i can't keep the gas on because of an imposed financial sacrifice of universal care. choice is good. freedom is good. universal health care is good only if it does not compromise choice and freedom. dollar for dollar i don't who's plan is cheaper, but what i do know is that if i were the guy in the position of paying for health care when i'm not sick, or keeping the lights on, i would like to have the option to shift priority.

i think it takes a person who is willing to admit they made a mistake to be honest enough to do what's right. it takes someone who is willing to do the right thing to be a diplomat and it takes a strong leader to be able to unify the country and the world. if you can't admit you got it wrong with a war that should have never happened that's a problem for me. this is a character flaw and speaks to the possibility of blindly taking us down the same old stupid road.

Posted by: k_m_f_j | February 19, 2008 5:29 PM | Report abuse

" ... Does he want to make a big splash and have a chance to change the outcome of the race (backing Hillary)? Or does he follow his principles and endorse the candidate that most closely matches his own ideology (Obama)?"

You are so mistaken. If Edwards were to endorse based on policy he would endorse Clinton without hesitation. Obama's economic advisors, David Cutler, Austen Goolsbee and Jeffrey Liebman are right-of-center free market economists.

Pay closer attention. On all issues Hillary Clinton is to the left of Obama. Clinton's policies are much closer to Edwards'.

Obama's supporters seem to have a tendency to project.

Obama is the farthest to the right of any Democrat I can remember getting this far.
For starters read "Subprime Obama" in the Feb. 11 edition of the Nation. The real irony is that support for Obama is very much support for the status quo.

Posted by: cal1942 | February 19, 2008 4:09 PM | Report abuse

Let's take a closer look at who's really qualified and or who's really working for the good of all of us in the Senate. Obama or Clinton.

Records of these two candidates should be scrutinized in order to make an informed decision.

Senator Clinton, who has served only one full term - 6yrs. - and another year campaigning, has managed to author and pass into law - 20 - twenty pieces of legislation in her first six years.

These bills can be found on the website of the Library of Congress, but to save you trouble, I'll post them here for you.

1. Establish the Kate Mullany National Historic Site.

2. Support the goals and ideals of Better Hearing and Speech Month.

3. Recognize the Ellis Island Medal of Honor.

4. Name courthouse after Thurgood Marshall.

5. Name courthouse after James L. Watson.

6. Name post office after Jonn A. O'Shea.

7. Designate Aug. 7, 2003, as National Purple Heart Recognition Day.

8. Support the goals and ideals of National Purple Heart Recognition Day.

9. Honor the life and legacy of Alexander Hamilton on the bicentennial of his death.

10. Congratulate the Syracuse Univ. Orange Men's Lacrosse Team on winning the championship.

11. Congratulate the Le Moyne College Dolphins Men's Lacrosse Team on winning the championship.

12. Establish the 225th Anniversary of the American Revolution Commemorative Program.

13. Name post office after Sergeant Riayan A. Tejeda.

14. Honor Shirley Chisholm for her service to the nation and express condolences on her death.

15. Honor John J. Downing, Brian Fahey, and Harry Ford, firefighters who lost their lives on duty. Only five of Clinton 's bills are, more substantive.

-Extend period of unemployment assistance to victims of 9/11.

-Pay for city projects in response to 9/11 18. Assist landmine victims in other countries.

-Assist family caregivers in accessing affordable respite care.

-Designate part of the National Forest System in Puerto Rico as protected in the wilderness preservation system.

There you have it, the fact's straight from the Senate Record.

Now, I would post those of Obama's, but the list is too substantive, so I'll mainly categorize.

During the first - 8 - eight years of his elected service he sponsored over 820 bills. He introduced

233 regarding healthcare reform,
125 on poverty and public assistance,
112 crime fighting bills,
97 economic bills,
60 human rights and anti-discrimination bills,
21 ethics reform bills,
15 gun control,
6 veterans affairs and many others.
His first year in the U.S. Senate, he authored 152 bills and
co-sponsored another 427.
These inculded **the Coburn-Obama Government Transparency Act of 2006 - became law,
**The Lugar-Obama Nuclear Non-proliferation and Conventional Weapons Threat Reduction Act, - became law,
**The Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act, passed the Senate,
**The 2007 Government Ethics Bill, - became law,
**The Protection Against Excessive Executive Compensation Bill, In committee, and many more.
In all, since entering the U.S. Senate, Senator Obama has written 890 bills and co-sponsored another 1096.
An impressive record, for someone who supposedly has no record according to some who would prefer that this comparison not be made public.
He's not just a talker. He's a doer.

Posted by: EINNOC10 | February 19, 2008 2:02 PM | Report abuse

John Edwards would do well not to endorse at this time. If he is torn, then let his remaining clout be used to bring a party friendly end to this primary season by brokering the end to one of the campaigns.
(along with Gore/Dodd/Biden/Richardson)
As an Obama supporter, I believe that will happen soon after March 4th when Obama wins Texas.

But whenever and whoever, it needs to happen to preserve party unity. It's too important to jeopardize our chances in Nov. The 3 times there were fights all the way to the convention(1968,1972,1980) the Dems lost each time in Nov. We can and must avoid that.

The voters are speaking. The party needs to listen.

Posted by: baileyrtw | February 19, 2008 12:39 PM | Report abuse

Based on the email I received a couple of days ago "from John Edwards," he's made his choice, and it's the DCCC.

His campaign didn't have my email address, but Kerry does, Obama does, and the DCCC does. (I made a point of my DCCC donations in 2006 being in response to Obama's appeals, not Kerry's.)

I think Edwards has made the accurate calculation that donors are giving so heavily to the Presidential primary candidates that the DCCC et al are not getting as much as they usually would.

But as I argued to the DCCC fundraiser who called me last week (I said no because I was tapped out by donations to Obama; she replied, "I love you to death!" (that will be a vote in NC by the way, and probably someone swaying votes in NC)), he'll have coattails, so I think that by giving to Obama I'll be helping DCCC candidates, too.

Posted by: reedaaaa | February 19, 2008 11:15 AM | Report abuse

Sen. Obama can't eat his cake and have it. Either he is the candidate of change or he isn't. If he is a politician just like the others then he is expected to do things that the others do. But, when he set himself up higher than everyone else, his fall could be great.

Posted by: LadyEagle | February 19, 2008 10:54 AM | Report abuse

FYI: Hillary's ghostwriter was PAID and agreed up front to not getting credit. See the difference?

Posted by: JakeD | February 19, 2008 9:23 AM | Report abuse

Edwards, you never made it. We do not need a fighter. We need a person of dignity, substance and knowhow. Obama may have a good line and talk the talk - "BUT WHERE'S THE BEEF"????????

Posted by: LOONYBIN2000 | February 19, 2008 8:40 AM | Report abuse

Matt Lauer looks annoyed in that photo.

Posted by: JakeD | February 19, 2008 8:37 AM | Report abuse

Obama *should* get an Edwards endorsement. He can add it to all the other endorsements he's gotten from failed presidential contenders. It's like the who's who of losers, whose ranks he will likely join. He, Obama, as president would be at best a well meaning and naive Jimmy Carter type, who has good intentions but doesn't know how to get things done in Washington.

He hasn't even begun to do battle with the Republican machine. He can reach across the aisle, but his hand may well be bitten like others before him. He'll need a lot more than rhetoric to be the leader of this country. Maybe he should stay in his "waffle house" giving his grand, but borrowed, speeches.

With all due respect, a great number of Mr. Obama's young supporters were barely out of diapers when Bill Clinton was elected president, and have come of age during the disastrous second term of George W. Bush. They haven't experienced the Republican assault on the candidate they support as many of us have. They have no faith in government, and it is understandable that they would place their hopes in the persona and candidacy of the charismatic but untested Mr. Obama.

During debates Clinton demonstrates her amazing prowess and total recall of facts, figures and details all relevant to the plan for the next presidency - her own. That she beats Obama in every debate shows his biggest weakness: off the grand stage of his campus rallies he's having a hard time holding his own. It's no wonder he's "tired of debating" Mrs. Clinton.

Now that his speeches are known to be borrowed he seems even to lose his luster as an orator.

Posted by: tedbanaras | February 19, 2008 2:11 AM | Report abuse

Why the Courtship of Edwards ? He couldn't carry his own state 4 years ago when he was running with Kerry. I doubt if Mr Obama can find any love in the south, heck, i don't think he's loved many other places either. The real Obama is starting to show, he doesn't have a clue as to what he's talking about. He sounds like Jesse Jackson, preaching to the flock & big smiles for the cameras & says nothing. Why waste your vote on this jerk, Bush just endorsed McCain, we can't have 4 more years of a Bush-Republican in the White House, Hillary can beat McCain, Obama can't beat anyone.

Posted by: gatorsn09 | February 19, 2008 2:08 AM | Report abuse

Why the Courtship of Edwards ? He couldn't carry his own state 4 years ago when he was running with Kerry. I doubt if Mr Obama can find any love in the south, heck, i don't think he's loved many other places either. The real Obama is starting to show, he doesn't have a clue as to what he's talking about. He sounds like Jesse Jackson, preaching to the flock & big smiles for the cameras & says nothing. Why waste your vote on this jerk, Bush just endorsed McCain, we can't have 4 more years of a Bush-Republican in the White House, Hillary can beat McCain, Obama can't beat anyone.

Posted by: gatorsn09 | February 19, 2008 2:08 AM | Report abuse

I think the "Words" issue is very important becaus Obama is running his campaign on his words, not on the issues.

Obama's campaign manager David Axelrod is the same one Deval used when he ran for Governor. So this isn't a case of two friends sharing some lines. It's a case of the campaign manager using the same manufactured speech for different clients.

If all Obama has are words, and the words aren't even his own, then what does he have?

And what does it say about our culture when we don't value hard work, ideas or even originality? We're getting to the point where we fall for anything that isn't real.

Posted by: sunnyday1 | February 19, 2008 12:23 AM

Posted by: sunrise41510 | February 19, 2008 12:49 AM | Report abuse

"What I told him," Obama said, "is that I want him to be deeply involved in whatever we do."

Translation: I didn't promise him any specific job.

I too would like to see Edwards involved in the Obama administration, but it doesn't make sense to draw the Cabinet organization chart at this point.

Yeah I know - yet another example of Obama's executive and management abilities. ;-)

Posted by: TomJx | February 18, 2008 11:36 PM | Report abuse

The more I learn about Obama and the more I listen to his speeches, the less likely I am to vote for him. I used to think he's make a good president. Now I know that he's full of SH** just like most politicians.
By the way, I am an African American WOMAN. Let's get this world heading in the direction plotted out by a woman for a change. You want change, let's see how a woman with a brilliant mind like Hillary Clinton does. I'm betting everything I own on it.

Posted by: ttmjcij | February 18, 2008 11:36 PM | Report abuse

A Latino's Perspective:

John Edwards is a fighter and Hilary is a fighter and both truly care to thier core about the middle class and those working poor who are struggling to make a better life for themselves, their family, and their community; this is solid common ground upon which to join forces irrespective of delegates. I see Obama as a manufactured and conflicted human being that has earned some people's trust through some wierd faith or idol worship thing; I don't think we need that kind of President. In addition, it is abundantly clear that Obama doesn't know how to keep his word in a meaningful way to his consituents.

What will bring about meaningful change is kicking ass and taking names. I wish Mr. Edwards the best in whatever decision he makes.

P.S. Obamtron people you have become venimous and hateful and frankly it becomes you.

Posted by: truthteller52 | February 18, 2008 11:26 PM | Report abuse

Early on in this campaign, it was apparent that John Edwards was not going to do any better than he did in his 2004 presidential campaign. But there has been a cottage industry of pundits of overestimating his chances.

Now that he has left the race, these same pundits now overestimate his influence in the race. He had very few pledged delegates. I think I saw a figure that said twenty-six.

His polling numbers were in the low teens throughout the campaign. Many of the Edwards supporters realized he was not going to win and had already given a lot of thought to who their second choice would be. So an Edwards endorsement would not have much of an effect except on those who idolize John Edwards.

Obama and Clinton would be foolish to pin their hopes on what Edwards does and would be even more foolish to have him on their ticket. He would not produce for them any more than he did for Kerry as his running mate in 2004.

Posted by: danielhancock | February 18, 2008 10:24 PM | Report abuse

Why is it the only way Hillary benefits is when nobody is talking about her? There is no way she will win every state left with 60%; as such, she will have fewer delegates than Obama at the convention. That is the math, and it is not in dispute. The ability of her cadre to see only what they want to is truly frightening. It's over.

Posted by: gmundenat | February 18, 2008 10:05 PM | Report abuse

When you are such a small figure compared to Michelle Obama let alone Barack your aim has to be to tear the opponent down. That is cynical politics, the politics of hopelessness. Behaving like that is supposed to create a figure we respect. Hillary give us a break.

Posted by: Gator-ron | February 18, 2008 9:30 PM | Report abuse

Obama is not a fighter - but a skilled compromiser.
His so-called health care plan OMITS 15M of us BEFORE he begins his Kumbaya meetings with the Insurance industry that will OMIT more of us.
Why can't the richest nation on earth have health care for ALL??
Too many Insurance lobbyists funneling bribes to Congress critters to prevent it.

That's why the RARE candidacy of John Edwards who has never taken a dime from K Street lobbyists - had to be marginalized by the CORPORATE media that sponsors the Insurance industry.

Posted by: JoseyJ | February 18, 2008 8:25 PM | Report abuse

jkachmar - that's Republican propaganda!!

Plaintiffs' lawyers who defend the little guys against the giant corporations - don't increase health care costs.
In states where tort reform has been enacted, health care costs have INCREASED - not decreased.

Posted by: JoseyJ | February 18, 2008 8:19 PM | Report abuse

The big message I got from Edwards was that he despised corporate America. You know, the companies that employee most of us. He hated the greedy CEOs, with their big bonus checks and their living large lifestyles. The thing is that no company is obligated to hire a CEO and pay them millions of dollars. The salary deal is done by board members. While I think it is disgusting that CEOs make the money they do today, I equally find it disgusting that we pay actors and sport figures the huge sums of money that market conditions dictate. We are a society that is celebrity biased. The bigger the name, the bigger the paycheck, the more business they bring, or not. So John was right to feel contempt for those high paying CEOs, but then how should be look at John's' lifestyle. What is causing healthcare costs to skyrocket is the proliferation of PIs suing medical personnel. Ask your doctor how much he/she pays each year for malpractice. Back in 1973 when my son was born, my OBGYN, a local doctor that delivered the most babies in NJ at that time, probably did not carry malpractice insurance at all. He delivered my son for $0 because I had no insurance. He had a small, dated office with no frills, and himself a father of 9. Things were different back then without the PIs, like John Edwards, suing the living crap out of every doctor and causing medical costs to soar. I am not missing John and his big life too much these days. I frankly don't care who he supports.

Posted by: jkachmar | February 18, 2008 8:01 PM | Report abuse

"A fighter in the White House?"

BO has decided to be a fighter... PLEASE!

This is "hilarious"... Last week Barack Obama said, "Does this always have to be a fight?" LMAO!

Barack Obama is synonymous with "Waffle House."

First, he didn't believe in fighting... now, he's willing to fight for the White House.

Hey, "BO" ... why don't you fight for the people numb skull.

BO (aka Barack Obama)... is really starting to smell.

If it looks like it, smells like it, it's probably "Sh|+"

Posted by: randymk1 | February 18, 2008 7:36 PM | Report abuse

It is sad that the Clintons seem to be quickly destroying any legacy that they still might have and flushing all their political capital down the toilet.

Wolfson is a complete hack and if this was his call then he needs to be the next to go in the Clinton camp. If they aren't careful they might just implode the entire party.

The Clinton advisors are on track to have run and even worse campaign then Gore did in 2000. At least the Gore campaign managed to not implode the entire party with it.

Posted by: ezne1son | February 18, 2008 7:28 PM | Report abuse

It's simple for Edwards: Does he want to make a big splash and have a chance to change the outcome of the race (backing Hillary)? Or does he follow his principles and endorse the candidate that most closely matches his own ideology (Obama)?

Posted by: parkerfl | February 18, 2008 7:25 PM | Report abuse

Memo to Clinton campaign spokesman Howard Wolfson

Re: Your accusation that Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) committed "plagiarism" in a speech in Milwaukee on Saturday night

"You've done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?"

Yes, the above paragraph is "plagarized" from Special Counsel for the Army Joseph N. Welch's broadside against Joseph McCarthy.

Deal with it.

Hillary has plagarized Obama's lines quite frequently, but you don't see his campaign whining about it.

No one has ever lost money betting on how sleezy and low the Clintons can go.

Then there is the question--'Where's William?'

Bill Clinton oscillates between being underwraps and carefully tethered, lest he alienate even more Democratic voters.

But what would happen if Hillary is actually elected?

How long before the United States, in debt and at war, would have to face another 'bimbo eruption' (their words); financial scandal, or embarrassing liaison with the world's corrupt and those who violate human rights?


Posted by: Martinedwinandersen | February 18, 2008 6:45 PM | Report abuse

When Hillary Clinton used a ghostwriter for her book "It Takes a Village" she did not credit her anywhere in the volume.

Maybe Hillary's next book should be "It takes a Thief."

Martin Edwin "Mick" Andersen

Posted by: Martinedwinandersen | February 18, 2008 6:38 PM | Report abuse

"A fighter in the White House?

That's what Edwards used to say."

Ooooh! Snarky...

Posted by: ablackstormy | February 18, 2008 6:30 PM | Report abuse

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