ABC News Interview With Elizabeth Edwards

ABC News' Bill Weir spoke with Elizabeth Edwards, wife of Democratic vice-presidential candidate John Edwards, on "Good Morning America's" weekend edition.

The following in an unedited excerpt from the interview that aired on "GMA" on Oct. 23, 2004.

Bill Weir: I looked back at some old campaign ads -- saw Jackie Onassis doing a, a spot in Spanish, to reach out to Hispanic voters.

(Both speak at once.)

Elizabeth Edwards: Yes.

Weir: -- and Nancy Reagan, going after Jimmy Carter, and what not. Do you think voters make their decisions based at all on the spouse in addition to the candidate?

Edwards: They shouldn't. (Laughs) They shouldn't make their decisions -- the people who are going to run the country, you know, and, and work for us every day --the, the president and the vice president, should be the people that people concentrate on -- that voters concentrate on. That doesn't mean that we don't have a role -- and -- in talking about these, these men's values, their priorities, their plans -- we do. I mean we know them better than anyone else. And -- and I think I'm a window to - I know -- to my husband and then I guess to my -- to John Kerry's judgment about -- about what, what these people stand for.

Weir: But if you have a strong marriage -- you've been married for 26--?

Edwards :27!

Weir: -- 27 years.

(Both speak at once.)

Edwards: Yeah. Yes. Want to get credit for every one of 'em.


Weir: Don't want to sell you short -- it seems, though, impossible to separate yourself from him. You're a smart former lawyer, very interested in politics as well, so -- we can assume that you will have some influence on your husband in terms of policy, that Teresa Heinz Kerry will have some influence on her husband -- is that an unfair assumption?

Edwards: I think that -- we'll probably operate the way we always have, and that is that we talk about things. But one of the things that happens in a, in a marriage -- you might argue about one thing or another, but the truth of the matter is if they're the guy who gets to vote, they get to win those arguments... And -- but ultimately it's John Kerry's decision and John Edwards' decision -- not Teresa's or mine.

Weir: Talk about your relationship with Teresa.

Edwards: I've gotten enormous respect for this woman who would be our most generous first lady ever.

Weir: I must ask you about her statement this week when she said I don't know if Laura Bush has ever had a real job. I'm just wondering what your reaction was when you heard that.

Edwards: I think that Laura Bush was very gracious about it and -- and as far as I'm concerned it's, it's over.

Weir: OK. Let's talk about another topic of the day -- have -- have you or Jack or Emma Claire been able to get a flu vaccine?

Edwards: No. The truth is that all of us are outside the -- the parameters of people who are targeted. Even our, our children... I'm -- I am very concerned about my parents who are in their 80s and live in Florida -- their doctors do not yet have any flu vaccine... The problem is not what's happening today. The problem though is what happened in the months before. We didn't plan for this kind of an emergency. We need to have sort of an imaginative, proactive administration, really, really solving the problems before they exist ... They knew in June about the possibility -- in August -- the -- Great Britain was already working on solutions -- and it took till September before we started deciding we needed to do something -- we need to be a lot more proactive now.

Weir: Let's go back to, to life on the, the campaign trail.

Edwards: Sure.

Weir: Could it, could it get any worse than this in terms of the microscopic-- (Laughter) analysis of every move you make? I mean, do you ever think about what it will actually be like in the White House and, and what your lives might be like?

Edwards: I don't think there's any way to know exactly how it's -- what it will be. I've talked -- I actually have talked to Tipper Gore about her life and, and, and what to expect. But -- you -- every family is different, so we're just going to have to wait to -- wait a -- with, with good luck and the support of the American people, we'll find that out in January.

Weir: Have you entertained the -- thought that what, what you might do if you don't win?

Edwards: We have this young family to raise, and -- and we've made a lot of friends across this country who've talked to us about the things that -- things that need addressing in, in their lives. And the truth of the matter is, the president in the last four years, didn't address them; they're going to need an advocate -- a champion -- regardless of who wins the White House. And so there's plenty of work to be done.