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Edwards: "My Wife's Illness Can Progress Without Me Being There'
CHAPEL HILL, North Carolina With his cancer-stricken wife at his side, John Edwards has announced that his campaign for the Presidency would go forward and that it will not interfere with his wife's treatment for cancer.
"They can give her chemo just as easily if I am on the campaign or by her side," he said. "She can puke without my being there. I'll be busy, anyway."
This sympathetic tableau drew an immediate outpouring of well wishes from people of all political persuasions.
"That's just what I would want my husband to do if I were really ill," said one woman. "Why should he stick around and support me through what might be a terminal illness when he could be pursuing his ambition away from me?"
Although he said his wife made the decision, Edwards also said the decision was a matter of character " his. "You can cower in the corner and hide "¦ like my wife," said Edwards, "or you can be tough and go out there and stand up for what I believe in, which is getting myself elected.
"Some people have expressed concern about what will happen to my young kids," he added. "My being away on the campaign trail will not affect them. They'll still have their mother "¦ for a while."
Political pundits were uniform in their praise of Edwards for using his wife's illness for political advantage.
"It makes him real," said Democratic strategist Dane Strother. "A real jerk, but a really good pol."
Democratic pollster, Mark Mellman, said that the disclosure of Elizabeth Edwards' illness could generate short-term interest in the Edwards campaign. "Not long-term interest, but short-tem interest, definitely."
Edwards' fundraiser, Fred Barron, speculated that financial support for the campaign could even increase "in the sense that more people will truly get to know John and Elizabeth Edwards. Especially during the eulogy."
Democratic consultant, Chris Lehane, said candidates often are measured by how they respond to a stressful moment, and that those who might have questioned whether Edwards had the toughness to be President could well draw a lesson from how he has handled this situation. "If he shows he's tough on her," said Lehane, "just think how tough he'll be on terrorists. If he gives in to her, the bad guys will know they can take Americans hostage and he'll negotiate. That's why it was a major mistake to make it appear that it was Elizabeth Edwards' decision for the campaign to go forward."
Later, Hillary Clinton whispered that Obama's wife was also stricken with cancer, or soon would be if she had her way, and that Edwards' and Obama's indifference to their wives' suffering made them unfit to be President.
"I'm not some little woman standing by my man like Tammy Wynette," said Hillary, "and as a result I am now the mother of all candidates for the Presidency. I'm not the standing-by type. But these two men are normal people " at least normal compared with me " so they should be standing by their women."