In an interview with ABC News' Peter Jennings, North Carolina Sen. John Edwards spoke candidly about life, loss and how his experiences have shaped his political career.
Following are excerpts from the interview:
ABC News' Peter Jennings: What were you like as a kid?
Sen. John Edwards: Rambunctious, active, nosy, in the middle of everything. I loved sports, always loved sports … and played every kind of sport there was — football, basketball, ran track — I did everything.
Jennings: Did you ever get in trouble when you were a kid?
Edwards: Oh yeah, all the time, all the time. I was always in the middle of something. Of course, I was a kid [laughs] … We lived in a mill village [in North Carolina] and it was a rough neighborhood. It was a place where if you didn't look out for yourself. You'd get run over basically.
Jennings: Was there ever any doubt about you going to college even though neither of your parents did?
Edwards: Oh yeah, lots of doubt. Even when I was in high school, there was a great deal of doubt. If you just get yourself into the mindset of a group of people, where no one has ever gone to college — it's [like] you don't know what to expect. You don't know what it's going to take to get in. You don't know whether you can do the work … it's all unpredictable. So, yeah, literally up until the time I went to college, and then when I went, for me, it was a big change in my life.
Jennings: When you were at college were you at all politically aware? Were you at all politically involved?
Edwards:I would say I started the transition to becoming more socially aware and politically aware. And by the time I got to law school, the transition was really in full bloom. I was, by the time I got to law school, I was interested in politics and interested in what was happening.
Strive for Credibility
Jennings: Why did you want to be a lawyer?
Edwards:I had wanted to be a lawyer — as a dream — since I was young. I think a lot of it was just driven by either from television and from reading. My perception that lawyers could stand up for people, who needed someone to fight for them and stand up for them … I had a Perry Mason idea of what a lawyer was [laughs].
Jennings: I gather you were a hell of a lawyer.
Edwards:I was a pretty good lawyer. Yeah, pretty proud of what I did as a lawyer. I worked extremely hard and took it very personally. Because I had, represented a lot of badly disabled children. And I knew that if I couldn't help them, I mean, no one was ever going to help them. I mean, I struggled and suffered and bled with them. It was very personal for me.
Jennings: Explain what it means to be a really good trial lawyer.
Edwards: It means something very different than most people think.