John Edwards Makes Impromptu Cameo at NY Conference

By Jennifer Parker

Jun 25, 2008 6:42am

ABC News’ Jennifer Parker reports: Elizabeth Edwards’ husband, former Sen. John Edwards, D-N.C., stole the show Monday when he made a surprise cameo via web camera at the Personal Democracy Conference in New York.

Watch the VIDEO HERE.

Invited to talk about how the Internet affected the 2008 presidential election, Mrs. Edwards’ planned appearance was canceled when weather prevented her from flying from North Carolina to New York.

The forum’s founder, Andrew Raisej — who doubles as the co-founder of the TechPresident website and did some work on Sen. John Edwards’ 2008 campaign — told ABC News he dispatched a Chapel Hill woman with a Mac computer and a web camera over to the Edwards’ home near Chapel Hill, allowing Mrs. Edwards to appear live at the conference via Skype while sitting on her floral living room couch.

During a question and answer session, Mrs. Edwards was talking about how the Internet can get people more involved in the political process when her husband, former Sen. John Edwards, D-N.C., walked into their home.

"John, sit down here and say hi to the pdf conference," Mrs. Edwards called to her husband, eliciting applause and laughter from the crowd.

Wearing a casual blue-and-white stripped golf shirt and jeans, Sen. Edwards sat beside Elizabeth, looking surprised and glancing at his wife while Raisej filled him in on what was happening.

"There’s about a thousand people here who are expecting Elizabeth and unfortunately the weather didn’t allow her to make it," Raisej said, "so we used technology — you may have heard of it, it’s called the Internet, to bring her to everyone in real time."

"You are a surprise guest, I swear this was not planned," Raisej began, "So as long as we have you, the big question we have is –"

"I just walked in," Sen. Edwards complained jokingly, "I’m waving to my children, I’m speaking to you before speaking to my children," he joked.

Asked about the impact of the Internet on the presidential election, Sen. Edwards pointed to the success of presumptive Democratic nominee Sen. Barack Obama to use his website as a small-donor fundraising tool. Of the almost $300 million raised by Obama during the campaign, almost half has come from people who donated $200 or less.

"It’s completely changed the shape of this race already," Sen. Edwards said. "It is the only reason that Barack Obama is not taking public financing, because he has a fundraising base that’s more grassroots, more small donors that allows him a huge competitive advantage against Bush."

"McCain," corrected Mrs. Edwards.

"I mean, excuse me, McCain. Freudian slip," Sen. Edwards said to crowd applause.

Sen. Edwards said technology was reinventing the mobilization of voters and grassroots organizing.

"You should know that the Internet community, in general, loves your wife," Raisej said.

"Yes I know that, I do too," Sen. Edwards said.

During the conference Elizabeth Edwards, who is battling cancer, appeared upbeat and happy. She predicted a close election in November.

"We are going to need to fight for every vote. This is going to be a close election," she said, according to the Washington Post.

While Mrs. Edwards didn’t endorse Obama before the last primaries with her husband, she told the conference that electing Obama is "enormously important."

"I said I would work as hard as I could to make sure he is the next president," Mrs. Edwards said, "but I don’t think it is by any means assured."

The notion that Democrats have far out-paced Republicans on the Internet this election cycle was on display when Raisej slammed presumptive GOP nominee Sen. John McCain’s lack of familiarity with computers, arguing it "shows he doesn’t understand how the world works and that he doesn’t understand what it would mean to be president," he said, according to the New York Times.

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