Edwards to Continue His Run for President In a press conference Thursday, Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards announced that he will continue his bid for the nomination, despite the news that his wife's cancer has relapsed.

Edwards to Continue His Run for President

Edwards to Continue His Run for President

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/9075932/9075933" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Former Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina says he will not suspend his campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination, despite the rediscovery of cancer in his wife, Elizabeth. The announcement came at a noon press conference the couple held Thursday in their hometown of Chapel Hill, N.C.

Elizabeth Edwards was first discovered to have breast cancer in October 2004, when her husband was the Democratic vice presidential nominee. She has since had surgery, chemotherapy and radiation treatment, and was thought to be cancer-free. But the couple announced Thursday that the cancer has returned, this time in her bone, which Edwards said was incurable but treatable.

Still, Edwards says he will remain in the race for the nomination.

"The campaign goes on," he said. "The campaign goes on strongly."

Elizabeth Edwards said, "I don't look sickly, I don't feel sickly. I am as ready as any person can be for that."

Former Sen. John Edwards (NC)

John Edwards Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption
Getty Images
At a Glance: John Edwards

First Campaign

Read about John Edward's first campaign.

The moment the 2004 Democratic ticket of Sens. John Kerry and John Edwards went down to defeat, Edwards began his second bid for the presidency.

Edwards, now the former senator from North Carolina, has spent much of the intervening years in Iowa, where he finished second to Kerry in the '04 caucuses, and where he has built a strong organization.

He has made a determined effort to repudiate (and apologize for) his 2002 vote authorizing the Iraq war, drawing a contrast with Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York, his rival for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008, who has refused to call her vote for war a "mistake." He has also been a strong and persistent critic against the Bush administration on its conduct of the war.

As they did in 2004, Edwards' supporters point out that as a Southerner, Edwards can make inroads in a region that produced the last three Democratic presidents (Lyndon Johnson, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton). But in 2004, Edwards' presence on the Democratic ticket did not help it carry a single Southern state, including his own. And during the primaries, he won just a single contest, that of his birth state of South Carolina.

A charming campaigner with a strong populist streak, Edwards has picked up on the themes he focused on last time: ending poverty, guaranteeing health care for all Americans and improving the environment. In fact, he announced his candidacy in New Orleans. The locale highlighted what Edwards sees as the greatest domestic failure of the Bush administration — its failed response to Hurricane Katrina — and helped make the point that he will not forget those left behind.

Edwards, who has been running third in the national polls for quite some time — trailing Clinton and Obama — now finds himself in the same position in Iowa, where he has invested nearly all of his time and money since the conclusion of his 2004 campaign for vice president. But by placing most, if not all, of his campaign's marbles in the Hawkeye State, a defeat there could end his viability as a serious candidate. A win in Iowa, of course, could reverberate several days later in the caucus in Nevada, where organized labor plays a major role, and a week later in South Carolina, where Edwards retains strong support.

When Edwards declared his candidacy for this presidential election cycle, he said the only thing that would hold him back was his wife's health. Elizabeth Edwards discovered she had breast cancer in October 2004, in the final weeks of Edwards' vice presidential campaign. Since then, she has undergone surgery, chemotherapy and radiation treatment, and was thought to be recovering.

On March 22, John and Elizabeth Edwards held a news conference in Chapel Hill, N.C., announcing that her cancer has returned, this time in the bone. The news was that Elizabeth's cancer was not curable, but it was treatable. Despite rumors that Edwards would drop out of the race, or suspend his campaign, he announced he would continue.

"The campaign goes on," he said. "The campaign goes on strongly."

Edwards was a hugely successful trial lawyer when he took on and beat Sen Lauch Faircloth (R) in 1998, in his first run for public office. Two years later, Edwards found himself on Al Gore's short list of potential vice presidential running mates. When he ran for president in 2004, Edwards gave up on a re-election bid to the Senate; at the time, his chances of winning a second term in office were seen as no better than even.