Democrats Move Quick to Lessen Damage of John Edwards Affair

"For many years, he has given voice to the voiceless and he has now taken responsibility for a personal mistake," said John Moylan, Edwards' 2008 South Carolina campaign director. "He still has much to offer this country and I look forward to helping any way that I can."

Edwards Denounced by Campaign Staff

Edwards spokeswoman Jennifer Palmieri said on CNN that she did not expect either John Edwards or Elizabeth Edwards to speak at the convention.

"I expect that both of them are going to be staying home that week," Palmieri said, "It's been a difficult time and I think that want to have some time to be with their family and help each other get through this."

Palmieri said John Edwards held a conference call with former campaign staff this afternoon and apologized to them for "misleading everyone" and "putting at risk everything they had all worked so hard for."

Former Edwards allies and associates denounced and distanced themselves from a man who has suddenly become politically toxic.

Among the most scathing reactions came from the man who led Edwards' 2008 presidential bid, characterizing his ex-boss' affair as a betrayal.

"I am disappointed and angry," said David Bonior, a former congressman from Michigan who managed Edwards' 2008 presidential campaign. "Thousands of friends and supporters of Sen. Edwards put their faith and confidence in him and he has let them down. Young supporters who put their time and energy into his campaign with a newfound energy and idealism for politics have been betrayed by his actions."

Even beyond the public denials, Edwards had vehemently denied the allegations privately to aides. Jonathan Prince, Edward's 2008 deputy campaign manager, said on CNN that the former senator personally lied to him during the campaign about not having an affair.

Many aides repeated his denials to reporters -- not aware that they were being told to lie.

"I am profoundly disappointed and devastated," said Chris Kofinis, who was Edwards' communications director during his 2008 campaign. "We believed in him, and it's heartbreaking, and I send my thoughts and prayers to Elizabeth, the senator and his family as they deal with this personal tragedy."

Bad Behavior Damages Political Credibility

The revelation damages the Democratic Party's image at a critical time.

Edwards joins a growing list of prominent Democrats -- from Gary Hart to Bill Clinton to former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer -- in having engaged in extramarital affairs.

Democrats moved quickly to bat down suggestions that the party is plagued by sex scandals, noting that recent scandals have also embroiled Republicans.

"This is nothing endemic to being a Democrat here -- this is a human condition," Paul Begala, a former Clinton adviser, said on CNN, one of many cable channels that went with wall-to-wall coverage of the affair.

Veteran presidential adviser David Gergen argued if Edwards had won the Democratic primaries, it could have been catastrophic for the party.

"Had he been the nominee tonight, and this story broke in the way it did, it would have blown up his candidacy and cost the Democratic Party it's chance for regaining the White House," Gergen said on CNN.

Revelation May Damage Obama Bid

While Edwards endorsed Obama late in the primary campaign, few Democrats are worried that the story will significantly affect Obama's campaign -- if he moves immediately to sever ties with the former North Carolina senator.

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