Local News

Elizabeth Edwards: There's More To Presidential Candidate Than Meets Eye

Posted April 8, 2003

— There's more to the presidential race than the men in front of the cameras.

There's the support of their wives, who one day could be called "first lady."

In a rare interview, Elizabeth Edwards, the wife of N.C. Sen. John Edwards, spoke with WRAL about what it means to be the wife of a presidential candidate.

Elizabeth Edwards is spending a lot of time on the campaign trail these days. But her primary job and focus is raising two young children.

"Most of life is not spent doing that (stumping for John Edwards)," she said. "So it almost seems like I'm talking about another Elizabeth Edwards, because that couldn't possibly be my husband they're talking about or my family they're talking about."

Don't be fooled. An attorney herself, Edwards is smart and opinionated. She helps her husband examine important issues.

"The one thing that people can tell above anything else is when someone is a fake," she said. "So you have to be what you are. Our relationship is what it is -- we're a close family, and we communicate completely on just about every issue."

On the issue of war with Iraq, Elizabeth Edwards is careful not to take a clear political stance. Her husband has taken flack from other Democrats for supporting the war.

"I think there's no question that these young men and women deserve our support," she said. "That doesn't mean people can't express their opinions. I honestly believe people should express their opinions."

Like many women, Elizabeth Edwards' life is a balancing act. She had Emma Claire at age 48 and Jack at age 50. Now 2 and 4 years old, they keep her busy.

"I have a lot more patience then I did the first time," she said. "But I have less energy."

The Edwards also have a daughter, Cate, in college. Their son, Wade, died in a 1996 car accident.

Elizabeth said Wade's death changed the family forever.

"There's not a day that goes by that grieving Wade isn't part of," she said. "There's not a day that goes by that I don't get a smile on my face, too, when I think of something he did or said."

Talking about your personal life with strangers is not easy. Despite her credentials, Edwards is not entirely comfortable being in the public eye, but she said she is working hard to change that.

"It's just a matter of getting a few rounds under my belt," she said, "and it won't seem as much as I'm afraid to fall on my face. There's a little of that, of course."

Her husband, on the other hand, is a natural in the spotlight. She has high hopes for his campaign.

"If he gets in front of enough Americans, his chances are really great," she said.

She hopes to help buoy those chances by hitting the campaign trail -- she says she will be making more public appearances as the campaign trail heats up -- but most of all, by keeping life on the home front as normal as possible.


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