John and Elizabeth Edwards on 'This Week'


First of all, we can't let the deficit get worse. We'd like to see it reduced. But I do not believe we can reduce it as substantially as we'd love to see done for the long-term fiscal and economic health of America and do the other things that need to be done, too.

Stephanopoulos: And on trade, no more free trade agreements, unless there are labor protections and environmental protections.

Edwards: Can I be really precise about this? Because this gets muddled over a lot.

I think trade is important, important for America, very important to the developing world, where I've spent some time over the last couple of years, and I have a personal investment in seeing those countries and those people be lifted up.

So I think trade matters. What I really believe is we need a trade policy that has labor and environmental protections that are achievable by those countries. If they're being used as a ruse to create a protectionist barrier, then I am not for that.

Stephanopoulos: But what if those countries say you may think they're achievable, they don't and they don't define it under the agreement.

Edwards: That's what negotiations are about. The negotiations between us and these countries, that's what they're about.

What we've done, though, we have caved on those kind of standards in the past. I don't think we can do that. I don't think we should do that. I'm not for protectionism.

Stephanopoulos: Mrs. Edwards said you are more progressive than John Kerry. Are you a populist?

Edwards: I'm not sure what that means. I've heard that phrase used a lot.

Stephanopoulos: Well, do you think you are?

Edwards: When you ask the question, do you mean I believe it's important for ordinary Americans to have power and to not be overpowered by multinational corporations? Yes, I do believe that.

Stephanopoulos: And what does that mean? How do you then translate that into policy?

Edwards: Universal healthcare doing something about 37 million people who live in poverty, strengthening the ability of working Americans to organize themselves democratically into unions so they have a voice.

Those are some of the things.

Stephanopoulos: You got a few boos in New Hampshire. The issue is gay marriage.

Edwards: There were no boos.

Stephanopoulos: OK, well, that's what I read. We can go back to the videotape. But when you say…

Edwards: I'll be honest, I didn't hear them, if there were.

Stephanopoulos: But more important, more important, at that time, you said it's the single hardest issue for you.

Edwards: It is.

Stephanopoulos: Why?

Edwards: Because I'm 53 years old. I grew up in a small town in the rural south. I was raised in the southern Baptist church. And so I have a belief system that arises from that.

It's part of who I am. I can't make it disappear. And what I said when I was asked about this in Portsmouth, New Hampshire//

[John Edwards in New Hampshire: I personally feel great conflict about that. I don't know the answer, I wish I did. I think from my perspective it's very easy for me to say civil unions, yes, partnership benefits yes, but it is something that I struggle with.]

Do I believe they should have the right to marry? I'm just not there yet, me, I'm not there yet.

Stephanopoulos: Are you?

Elizabeth Edwards: Well, it's not particularly important whether I am, but I guess I come from a more eclectic background and so it's less problematic, I think, probably for me.

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