Rivals Reacts to Teary Clinton

By Michael Elmore

Jan 7, 2008 2:42pm

ABC News’ David Muir, Raelyn Johnson and Sunlen Miller Report:  Former Sen. John Edwards, D-N.C., on the tail end of his 36-hour campaigning marathon in New Hampshire on day before the primary vote, reacted to rival Sen. Hillary Clinton’s emotional moment Monday.

Edwards offered little sympathy and pounced on the opportunity to question Clinton’s ability to endure the stresses of the presidency.

"I think what we need in a commander-in-chief is strength and resolve, and presidential campaigns are tough business, but being president of the United States is also tough business," Edwards told reporters Laconia, New Hampshire.

Earlier in the day, Clinton became emotional when speaking to a group of voters in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

"My question is very personal, how do you do it?" asked Marianne Pernold Young, a freelance photographer from Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Getting emotional, Clinton said, "It’s not easy, and I couldn’t do it if I didn’t passionately believe it was the right thing to do. You know, I have so many opportunities from this country just don’t want to see us fall backwards," she said.

Watch the video HERE.

Her voice breaking and tears in her eyes, she said, "You know, this is very personal for me. It’s not just political it’s not just public. I see what’s happening, and we have to reverse it."

Edwards jumped on the chance to express his readiness to face the strenuous demands of the presidency: "What I know is I’m prepared for that and I’m in this fight for the middle class and the future of this country for the long haul, through the conventions, straight to the White House."

However, in an interview with ABC News’ David Muir, Elizabeth Edwards offered more compassion than her husband.  She noted that everyone on the campaign trail can relate to how grueling the task can be.  In the end, Elizabeth Edwards did not pass on the political opportunity and added that voters will decide whether or not they want to see watery eyes.

Later, at another campaign stop, Edwards appeared to adopt his wife’s more sympathetic tone.

"These campaigns are very grueling," he said, "they’re tough and difficult affairs, running for president is a tough process."

During a campaign stop at Jake’s Coffee in New London, New Hampshire, Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., was also asked to comment about Clinton’s teary moment.

"I didn’t see what happened," he said, but added, "I know this process is a grind. So that’s not something I care to comment on."

Obama was asked if Clinton should drop out if he wins the Granite State primary tomorrow.

"I would never presume to say anything like that. Look, we’ve had one caucus, and this would be one primary. And right now Im just focused on tomorrow. We’ve got to get our voters out," he said.

"It would be such a shame after seeing the great turnout in Iowa, if we weren’t working as hard as we could to make sure that story continues. Because I think that’s the biggest story out of Iowa: 18 to 30 year olds voting at the same rate as seniors, doubling caucus turnout. That transcends any individual candidate, if that happens we’re changing the political landscape," Obama said.

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