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.


10 Comments for "Context"

  • Al Bumen January 01, 2008 4:49 pm

    Though I am not an Edwards fan. His wife is right. The media loves black candidates and woman candidates. The media doesn't care whether the black or female candidates are qualifyed or not. Makes no difference to the media. Just being female or a minority, apparently makes them qualifyed. There are hundreds of qualifyed black and females people across the country. Obama and Clinton are not in those hundreds.

  • another joe August 09, 2007 6:58 am

    The article was a good one and the quote is a great one. Journalists sell their children into bondage for quotes like that because they reveal so much in so few words. Candor is hard to come by. Hillary has let her excruciatingly tight pinched mask fall only twice in a few years, ( Iowa - "I resent?" ), and on both occasions we got to see a deeply disturbed woman consumed with rage, envy, and narcissism. Elizabeth Edwards' quote reveals: "We're maybe running a good third, we're desperate, no one pays attention to John, just his hair, it's not fair, we're scrambling to keep up at all."

  • OEST August 08, 2007 11:56 pm

    So, where is the ENTIRE INTERVIEW that you did with Elizabeth Edwards?

  • OEST August 08, 2007 11:55 pm

    Fact is, the two largest Democratic constituencies in the country are women and blacks. If anyone thinks that's not bouying Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama right now, they are fooling themselves. The problem is the other candidates haven't tried hard enough to highlight the differences between all of the candidates, and that makes them all appear to stand for the same things, so voters make their decisions based on other differences, i.e., gender and race. If voters believe that Clinton believes the same thing as Edwards, then why wouldn't a woman vote for Clinton over Edwards if the only difference she perceives between the two is "gender"? Same for Obama. The problem is voters are about to choose a sold out tool like Clinton, who is Republican-lite, and John Edwards and her do think differently about most things. The challenge for the Edwards campaign is to stress the fact that all Democrats don't think alike or believe the same things, and they would govern differently as President, and Clinton would be worse for them than he would be, and that we can do better with him as President than we did during the 1990s on things like health care, the tax code, education, and so forth. If they are all going to be allowed to seem the same, then gender and race will be the only thing differentiating them in the minds of voters.

  • davem August 08, 2007 10:35 pm

    Elizabeth is right on with what she said! The media loves that there is a story with the first woman and African American with a reasonable chance of winning a party nomination and possibly even the white house. It's a fact that the media is obsessed with these two! Of course Hillary did have some name recognition coming in to this race, but the media completely built up Obama from nothing to a superstar. Now OF COURSE that does not mean that either of these two are not good candidates, because they are, but from everything I have seen and heard John Edwards is the outsider and the one who has fought big corporations and won and the one who is fighting poverty and is tops on womens issues too. It is a shame that his message is being lost in the media's obsession. In any other year if the previous vice presidential nominee was running for President they would be receiving the most media attention, but because of race and gender he is not and it will be America's loss if it doesn't change!

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