Is Elizabeth Edwards the Voice of the Campaign?

On a day when the John Edwards campaign began airing a commercial in New Hampshire featuring his wife, Elizabeth, campaign managers called talk of her becoming the "dominant voice" of the presidential campaign "silly."

You can see the ad here.

"John Edwards is clearly the voice of this campaign," said Jonathan Prince, the deputy campaign manager. "Just look at how the other campaigns have followed [John's] lead … on Iraq, universal health care and on hedge funds."

"It's not surprising the person who knows him best is Elizabeth," Prince said. Edwards' senior adviser, Joe Trippi, added it was John Edwards who was featured in the campaign's first television ad.

The campaign was responding to Elizabeth Edwards' criticism of Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y. Edwards told Salon.com her husband would be a better president for women than Clinton.

"I'm sympathetic — she [Hillary Clinton] wants to be commander in chief. But she's just not as vocal a women's advocate as I want to see. John is. And then she says, or maybe her supporters say, 'Support me because I'm a woman,' and I want to say to her, 'Well, then support me because I'm a woman,'" Elizabeth Edwards said in the Salon.com interview.

Prince said John Edwards was way out in front on issues important to women.

"We know that John Edwards is the guy who is leading the race as far as poverty … an issue that affects more women than men and on universal health care. That affects more women than men," Prince said.

The campaign said it disagreed with some of the media characterizations of Elizabeth Edwards' comments on Clinton.

When asked whether there was any sexism in the coverage of Elizabeth Edwards' comments on a female presidential candidate, Trippi said, "I would be surprised if [former President] Bill [Clinton] didn't say Hillary would be a better candidate for men than John Edwards is. Every spouse believes their spouse is the best candidate."

The most recent poll conducted by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center for CNN and WMUR-TV in Manchester puts the New York senator in the lead among New Hampshire voters with 33 percent and Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., second at 25 percent with New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson now in third with 10 percent.

John Edwards for the first time has placed fourth with 8 percent, prompting WMUR-TV to report that Edwards' campaign was "sputtering" in New Hampshire.

But the Edwards campaign challenged that assertion.

"We characterize that poll as a July poll. It is the summer. Contests are many months away." Prince said. "They're wide-open fluid races. Right now we do not care where anyone else is. And Elizabeth is a strong asset."

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