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Elizabeth Edwards left imprint on American politics

Posted December 10, 2010

— Elizabeth Edwards lived a life of dignity and remained strong while facing adversity.

That’s how family and longtime friends say they will remember the 61-year-old mother of four, lawyer, health care advocate and politician’s wife, who died this week after a six-year battle with cancer.

Also part of her legacy – her influence on American politics.

Andy Taylor, a political science professor at North Carolina State University, said Friday that Edwards’s populist beliefs about dealing with poverty and creating access to health care were views that heavily influenced her husband, former North Carolina senator and two-time presidential candidate John Edwards.

“She was a very different kind of politician’s wife. I think people found that very appealing,” Taylor said.

Unlike other political spouses who take on smaller roles, Taylor said, Elizabeth Edwards had an ability to relate to everyone and share her struggles in the process.

She penned two memoirs – “Saving Graces” and “Resilience” – in which she wrote about how she dealt with adversity.

Edwards’ oldest son died in a car wreck in 1996; she fought a very public cancer battle; and she stood by her husband during his second presidential campaign even after she learned of an extramarital affair. The couple separated last year after 32 years of marriage.

Elizabeth Edwards Politics part of Edwards' legacy

“Those real-life, searing experiences – like losing a child, like her illness, like her marital promises – they really connect with all of us who go through those kind of things,” Taylor said. “And her ability to keep going generated tremendous admiration.”

Even though Elizabeth Edwards never held office, Taylor said, her influence on her husband's campaigns had an indelible effect on the political landscape.

“In addition to her own qualities, her incredibly interesting life story elevates Elizabeth Edwards in the consciousness of the American public,” he said.

Edwards will be laid to rest Saturday next to her son during a private graveside ceremony. A public service will be prior to the burial at Edenton Street United Methodist Church in Raleigh, according to details released by the Edwards family on Thursday.

Among those expected to attend the services are Sen. John Kerry, Gov. Bev Perdue, Sen. Kay Hagan, Reps. David Price, Brad Miller, Larry Kissell, Bob Etheridge and G.K. Butterfield, Iowa First Lady Mary Culver, former White House Chief of Staff John Pondersa and Vicki Kennedy, the wife of the late Sen. Ted Kennedy. 


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  • geosol Dec 10, 2010

    Sorry for the usual little negative comments from our right wing trolls. Glad to see so many people with positive and supporting comments for this woman. She is a positive role model for so many people. Rest in eternal peace, Elizabeth, you will be missed by millions.

  • tictock Dec 10, 2010

    Elizabeth Edwards, you were and still are the most beautiful and courageous woman I have ever come to know. You lead the example of how God showers love to everyone and how his love touches us all in so many different ways. That's all that matters at any given point in the past, present, and future. Your work has been done and it will not be forgotten. You lead the way. Thank you so much and may you rest in peace and still continue to touch and bless those around the world.

  • woodybeez Dec 10, 2010

    Some people must watch one tv station. IF i dont like what is on I just use the remote and move on. I like the weather at wral I have found Creig to be better at explaining it. I will be glad when Ms Edward is laid to rest. I feel sorry for her children however they are not the only young children to lose a parent. As for the antigay protesters they should not be allowed to protest at funnerals. If they want to protest then go somewhere else. I cant believe they call theirself Christians. Not quit the way most people see their behavior.

  • silversea1 Dec 10, 2010

    I will never be as dignified and full of grace as Elizabeth Edwards was. Sooooo to you wildcat and overtime and all you other knuckle heads out there BOO-HOO BOO-HOO.
    To the ones who complain about WRAL covering the funeral.......isn't there hundreds of channels you can watch during that time. Get Over It!!

  • normson7 Dec 10, 2010

    Wildcat obviously doesn't have the grace or decency that Elizabeth Edwards had. It's a shame that it has to come out here. May she rest in peace.

  • Katupatree Dec 10, 2010

    Did you know that the Westboro Baptist Church plans to protest Elizabeth Edward's Funeral at the United Methodist Church in Edenton tomorrow morning.The WBC church is very anti-gay, and it seems they plan to protest her funeral because she supported gay rights.
    All I can say is WBC, What would Jesus do?

  • zacharyjuno Dec 10, 2010

    You people are disgusting. This was a woman who endured some of life's worst tragedies and she continued to move forward placing her family first with her head held high. She was the brains behind John Edwards and she certainly did leave an inprint on both American politics by advocating for healthcare , cancer research and reached out to many who had cancer when most others would have shut themselves in the house. This woman lived with grace and really showed her children a remarkable example of human experience. Shame on you all. Politics aside, this woman was a wonderful mother and a friend to many and an inspiration to millions.
    Zach Juno
    Atlanta, GA

  • rhess2 Dec 10, 2010

    It would be easy for some not to acknowledge Elizabeth Edwards impact on American politics, especially if they are republican or an independent that didn't agree with the issues she advocated for. Perhaps now is the time to put partisan politics aside and give Elizabeth Edwards the respect she deserves.

  • wildcat Dec 10, 2010

    Be glad when Monday comes so we can see a different story. Allow Elizabeth Edwards to rest in peace if you can.

  • sezme Dec 10, 2010

    I agree, demo7691. Every time I turn on the TV It's all about her and what a wonderful and magnificent person she was. Enough is enough!