Campaign 2008: Edwards Shows Deference To Kerry, But Doesn't Duck Obvious Question About Obama
Let the jockeying for position begin.
Former Sen. John Edwards (D-NC), a likely candidate once again for president, speaking on MSNBC's Hardball last night, seemed to go out of his way not to knock his 2004 running mate and possible 2008 rival, Sen. John Kerry (D-MA).
However, Edwards was more straight-forward responding to questions about Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL), giving credence to questions raised about Obama's lack of experience.
Could it be that Edwards considers Obama -- and the hype surrounding his possible candidacy -- a greater threat than Kerry to grab the anti-Hillary Clinton vote in the 2008 primaries?
Here's the conversation between Edwards and host Chris Matthews (and briefly, Edwards' wife, Elizabeth). Notice how Edwards takes the high road.
MATTHEWS: Were you well used by John Kerry?
EDWARDS: I‘ll ask — I‘m not — I‘ll let you guys talk about that.
MATTHEWS: I want to fight here. What did you think of hi joke about — if you flunk out of school, you don‘t do too well, you‘re not too smart, you get us stuck in Iraq. And it got turned around. What did you make of that?
EDWARDS: I think he just made a mistake.
MATTHEWS: What was he saying?
EDWARDS: I think he was trying to say, you better stay ...
ELIZABETH EDWARDS: Don‘t go there.
MATTHEWS: No, no. Come on.
Now listen to Edwards answer successive questions from audience members, one directly regarding Obama, and one inadvertently regarding Obama:
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hi, senator. Two years ago, we heard about your idea of the two Americas and your ambition to bridge the two. Today, Senator Barack Obama has the audacity to hope for a better American dream for its citizens. Frankly, how is your vision of the American dream different from that of Barack Obama‘s? What separates between you two?
EDWARDS: Well, I don‘t know the extent to which our vision is different. I don‘t know enough about what he Senator Obama is saying. I think that when he talks about hope, hope is something that I myself talked about a great deal when I was running for president and for vice president, restoring hope. Hope is on the way with was one of the phrases that I used. So in terms of the substance of what he wants to do, I don‘t know whether he believes as I do that the most important responsibility of the next president is to restore America‘s leadership in the world, to address big moral issues in the world like global poverty, AIDS, genocide. And what we need to do here at home. I just honestly don‘t know enough about where he stands on those things, although I‘m sure if he runs for president, he‘ll tell us.
Obama's lack of experience may have been on this next questioner's mind:
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: As a senator for two years, did you have enough experience in the foreign policy realm to kind of comfort the American people at a time where foreign policy is really at the forefront?
EDWARDS: It‘s a really good question, an important question. I think that the answer is, first of all, I was in the Senate six years, not two years. No, it‘s OK.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Communications major, sorry.
EDWARDS: You know, some of the rest of us make mistakes like that, too. I was there for six years and then subsequent to the presidential campaign in 2004, my time has been spent, a big chunk of it, has been doing work overseas. The home audience just saw me traveling through Uganda, I‘ve been doing humanitarian work. I spent time speaking in the Middle East, speaking in the Middle East, in India, in Asia, in Europe, speaking, meeting with leaders. And I think that has been enormously valuable in terms of adding to the depth and maturity of my view about what‘s happening in the world.
And then Edwards gave his Cheshire Cat smile, realizing the mistake in the audience member's question had given him an opportunity to again show off the differences between his experience level and Obama's.