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.
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Edwards to Continue His Run for President

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Edwards to Continue His Run for President

Edwards to Continue His Run for President

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This is DAY TO DAY. I'm John Ydstie.

In a few minutes, bloggers overseas facing criminal charges and prison time.

Unidentified Man: It's very common whenever there is a sweep of arrests that involves activists that you find bloggers getting arrested.

YDSTIE: Bloggers in trouble coming up on the program. First, though, John Edwards, news from the 2008 campaign trail. John Edwards will not suspend his bid for the Democratic presidential nomination. The presidential hopeful and his wife Elizabeth called a press conference today to announce that Mrs. Edwards' cancer has returned.

We first learned that Elizabeth Edwards had breast cancer in 2004, when her husband was running for vice president. She recovered from the illness after several months of chemotherapy and radiation treatment. Today, the couple made it clear that John Edwards' presidential campaign would go on despite the recurrence.

Here's John Edwards.

Mr. JOHN EDWARDS (Former Democratic Senator, North Carolina; 2008 Presidential Candidate): We are very optimistic about this because having been through some struggles together in the past, we know that the key is to keep your head up and keep moving and be strong. And we intend to do exactly that.

YDSTIE: Elizabeth Edwards also spoke.

Ms. ELIZABETH EDWARDS (Mr. John Edwards' Wife): There were times yesterday that we thought it might be a lot worse than it is, and we wouldn't be having the same conference we're having right now, with the same hopeful tone. We're actually encouraged as we got more and more test results.

YDSTIE: Joining us is NPR's political editor, Ken Rudin. Ken, welcome back to the program?

KEN RUDIN: Thank you, John.

YDSTIE: Before we get to the politics, tell us what we learned today about Mrs. Edwards' health.

KEN RUDIN: Well, we learned that the cancer that first appeared in the waning days of the 2004 campaign - I hate to talk to about this in political terms because, of course, we're talking about somebody's health. But the cancer that we first learned about in October of 2004 has come back and has spread from her breast to her bone. It seems like it's narrowly focused. It seems like it has not really spread. It has not - while John Edwards did say that it is not curable, the cancer is treatable. So he will continue his campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination.

YDSTIE: Rumors had been swirling in the hours leading up to the press conference that Edwards would suspend his campaign. How did the media get it so wrong?

RUDIN: Well, that's a good point. For the longest of - first of all, we should point out that from the beginning of this year, John Edwards said that he would run only if his wife's health was not an issue, and apparently, we all thought - and he thought - that it was not an issue. There was a political Web site that reported that he would suspend his campaign, and then everybody was either denying it or not confirming it, and all the networks and all the newswires said that ultimately, Edwards would either drop out or suspend.

Basically, it would be the same thing for the most part because - what's the difference between dropping out and suspending - suspending a campaign means you're still in the race, you can still raise money and you're still telling your supporters yes, don't forget about me, I'm still there.

But ultimately, given the fact that he's still third in the national polls - the Democratic polls between Hillary - behind Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, and given the fact that there is with the accelerated schedule - so many states, 20 to 25 states will have primaries alone on February 5th next year -there is such a demand for early raising of early money that if you suspended the campaign, if you disappeared from the campaign trail for several weeks, several months, basically, you might as well give up the fight because this nomination will be decided earlier than ever.

YDSTIE: Has the health of the spouse ever played the role in it in a presidential campaign before?

RUDIN: Well, there were two instances I could think of. In 1971 Birch Bayh, he's the son of senator - he's the father of Senator Evan Bayh of Indiana. Birch Bayh was a leading contender for the Democratic presidential nomination. He dropped out in the fall of 1971 when his wife Marbella Bayh found out that she had breast cancer. She ultimately recovered. He run again in 1976 and lost the nomination. Eventually, Marbella Bayh died of breast cancer in 1979.

In 1968, George Wallace campaigned for president even though his wife, Lurleen Wallace, who was the governor of Alabama, was dying of cancer. She died during the middle of the campaign. George Wallace never left the campaign trail.

YDSTIE: Thanks, Ken. Ken Rudin is NPR's political editor. Ken's weekly column Political Junkie can be found at out Web site, npr.org.

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