Local Politics

Edwards' fall pushes N.C. delegation to background

Posted August 26, 2008 6:33 p.m. EDT
Updated August 26, 2008 8:06 p.m. EDT

— Four years ago, the North Carolina delegation to the Democratic National Convention in Boston was positioned in the front row because former Sen. John Edwards was the vice presidential candidate.

"Not only did North Carolina get front-and-center attention, of course we had great pride that our senator was on that ticket," said Ed Turlington, a Raleigh lawyer who ran Edwards' campaign for the presidential nomination in 2004.

In Denver, the North Carolina delegation has been seated toward the rear of the Pepsi Center for this week's convention, illustrating Edwards' absence from the event.

Edwards has withdrawn from public appearances since his admission three weeks ago that he had an affair in 2006 with a woman hired to produce videos for his campaign. He has denied allegations that he fathered the woman's child.

Joe Trippi, now a consultant for CBS News, ran Edwards' unsuccessful 2008 presidential campaign. Edwards' absence from the national convention leaves a void, he said.

"You talk about somebody who stood up for the blue-collar voters – the workers out there – for people in poverty. That was John Edwards' voice," Trippi said. "I think it made a big difference in this election, and it's too bad the circumstances are such that (his presence at the convention) is not going to happen."

Amid all of the pomp for presumed presidential nominee Barack Obama and Sen. Joe Biden, this year's vice presidential pick, Edwards' absence is sort of the elephant in the room at the convention. Everyone is aware of it, but very few Democrats want to discuss it.

"I don't see any reason at this point to be talking about the recent unfortunate events," Turlington said. "The focus this week is the Obama family, the way he wants to lead us in a new direction (and) Biden and his family. So, that's really what I think is our emphasis."

Trippi said he doesn't sense any backlash against Edwards by convention delegates, even among members of the North Carolina contingent who have to watch the festivities from a distance.

"I think the people are disappointed," he said. "I know there are a lot of people who are angry, but they know the devastation he has done to himself. I don't think there's anybody who wants recriminations. Enough of them have already happened, and he's going to be suffering about this for a long time."