Thursday, April 05, 2007

Edwards: 'Everything Is Fair Game' in a Campaign

ABC News
Edwards: 'Everything Is Fair Game' in a Campaign
Edwards and Daughter Cate Talk About Taking on Cancer and Planning for the Future

April 2, 2007 — - Since announcing the return of her cancer last week, Elizabeth Edwards and her family have found themselves the recipients of both pure admiration and utter disapproval.

However, the past few weeks have been otherwise encouraging for the presidential campaign of her husband, John Edwards. Last week, he received a nine-point bump in the polls and yesterday, his campaign again made headlines, announcing that $14 million had been raised this quarter.

Elizabeth Edwards recognizes that her condition has garnered more support for her husband but says the boost has more to do with her husband's character than sympathy for her condition. "[I] do think that the cancer also gave people the opportunity to see a man who, under enormous stress, was able to be focused and clear and really goal driven," she says.

"Nightline" co-anchor Cynthia McFadden traveled to the Edwards home in North Carolina to talk exclusively with Elizabeth and Cate Edwards, wife and daughter of the 2008 presidential contender, for their first interview together since Elizabeth announced that her cancer had returned.

Since her announcement, her husband's decision to remain in the race has been questioned by voters and pundits alike, including some who have accused the Edwards campaign of capitalizing on his wife's condition.

'Everything Is Fair Game'

Elizabeth Edwards said the news regarding her cancer does not affect her husband's ability to be a "decisive and clear" leader. However, she says voters have a right to take her condition into consideration. "Honestly, everything is fair game," she says. "I mean, the reason we have been open about everything, tried to be as transparent as a family and as human beings as we can, is that we think if you're going to put yourself out as somebody who ought to be elected to be the leader of the free world, that people have a right to ask any sort of question that they think they need to know about you."

One group that has already given its support is Edwards' family. Last week's cancer announcement placed stress not only on Edwards' presidential ambitions but also on the couple's three children: Cate, 25; Emma Claire, 8; and Jack, 6. Cate, home on spring break from Harvard Law School, says she found out about her mother's cancer after class.

'I Could Never Fill Her Shoes'

"[When] I got out of class, I called her, like I always do when I'm walking home," says Cate, who is currently completing her first year at Harvard, "and that's when she told me, and she was downplaying it pretty obviously."

"I said, 'Put Dad on the phone.' And so I talked to Dad and he really told me," she says.

Edwards says she will finish the current semester, and will decide what to do about school in the future. If her mother is unable to campaign actively, she might be expected to participate more on the road. "I could never fill her shoes on the campaign trail. That is true, regardless of these statements that she's making. It is and always will be true. But I certainly would be willing to try."

'In the End, It Wins'

Cate's younger siblings, Emma Claire and Jack, haven't asked many questions about their mother's cancer. "They honestly seem perfectly normal and fine," says Cate. "I think for me, the scariest thing is thinking about [them], and I want them to have their mom, this mom, the same way I did. What scares me the most is that they're deprived of that at some point sooner than they should be."

Elizabeth Edwards hopes to be around for the campaign and beyond, but she says she's not in denial about the seriousness of her condition. "I probably will die of cancer at some point," she admits. "I know that, in the end, it wins. But my victory is lasting the 15 rounds with it."