March 27, 2007 — -- Elizabeth and John Edwards -- her cancer resurgence; their decision to keep campaigning -- have been water-cooler fodder since the couple spoke out about Elizabeth's health last week.
On Elizabeth's first solo campaign stop since that announcement, it seemed she and her husband might have a new crusade.
Her speech Monday at the City Club of Cleveland was part "Oprah," part revival meeting.
"You have become my angel, my idol … my everything," one audience member said.
After two standing ovations, Elizabeth, clearly basking in the emotion of the crowd, said she now understood what had kept Lance Armstrong going. If Armstrong became the symbol for beating cancer, Elizabeth might become the symbol for living with it.
"Think about it. He's running a bike race, and I'm running a marathon," she said. "And along the sides of our roads -- and they are very hilly roads that we have to navigate -- we have people cheering for us the whole way. You can't stop, can you?"
"I want to be certain you understand how important that is," she said, "because it means not only that you don't stop and you don't stop fighting, but it also means every step is not awful, but joyful."
The audience threw aside political questions, wanting instead to commiserate, sympathize and help.
"You've been a total inspiration to me," said one woman. "As a lawyer, you give me the courage to go on every day."
Elizabeth also confessed that she had received 30,000 e-mails so far, and that they were still coming in.
"I have gotten an outpouring of support," she said.
Staffers say the level of emotion surprised Elizabeth and left everyone wondering whether she and her husband were now conducting a crusade instead of a campaign.