The Edwards campaign called. They are in a tizzy over a quote from my article, which is being sensationalized at this moment on Drudge: "Elizabeth Edwards on campaign's troubles: 'We can't make John black, we can't make him a woman'..."
The campaign staff didn't even know I had spoken to Elizabeth Edwards [clarification: some staffers knew because I told them after the fact, but I didn't go thru official channels to reach her]. That is how she rolls. The staffer wanted to know when I talked to her, and what she said. CNN just asked me the same thing.
Here's how it went: I emailed Elizabeth in July to ask if she wanted to talk for an article I was reporting on the use of the net in politics. She said sure, so I called her and we spoke, on the record and for publication, with the only caveat being that I not discuss ahead of time the then-impending response to all the noise about her husband's hair.
She did say the words quoted by Drudge, and obviously it's a zinger, but somewhat less so in context:
The Web can be liberating. "It's about bypassing the sieve of the mainstream media," says Elizabeth Edwards, wife and confidant of Democratic presidential hopeful John Edwards. "The idea that you have people standing between you and the voter is diminished, and the capacity to speak directly empowers candidates to trust their own voices." With Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama hogging media coverage, campaigns can push their messages without paying for ads.
"In some ways, it's the way we have to go," Edwards says. "We can't make John black, we can't make him a woman. Those things get you a lot of press, worth a certain amount of fundraising dollars. Now it's nice to get on the news, but not the be all and end all."
She's quoted elsewhere in the article, too: In at least some campaigns, the Internet pros have penetrated the inner circle. "This is the new reality: the Internet people are at the most senior table," says Elizabeth Edwards, the candidate's wife and adviser, herself an early proponent of online campaigning. "Trippi reports to John. It's a straight line. Whenever there is a process of trying to get out a message, or engaging people on an issue, the Internet is honestly the first place we start."
Elizabeth Edwards said some insightful things about net campaigns in a long article about net campaigns. One of the things she said about using the web to create buzz when other candidates are sucking up all the media oxygen was kind of spicy, as it implies that at least some of the attention given to her husband's rivals is for reasons other than their excellence as candidates. She's worked somewhat similar ground before.
The stuff about integrating databases at the state level and figuring out how social networks translate into votes seems a lot more important than the dig at the media and/or Obama and Clinton, but I guess it doesn't make such a sexy soundbite.