Clinton-Obama Spat 'Sad,' Edwards Tells ABC

Last week, while the 2008 presidential campaigns of frontrunners Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., and Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., exchanged early jabs over Hollywood loyalties and broken promises, a third contender observed from a distance.

Former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards, who was also the 2004 Democratic vice presidential nominee, is busy campaigning to become the next president.

"It makes me kind of sad, actually," said Edwards, speaking about the squabble to ABC News. "It's entertaining, but I don't think it's what we should be focused on right now. I think the country's faced with a war and huge challenges at home. These sort of back-and-forth personal interactions I don't think are helpful for America."

"Nightline's" Terry Moran spent a day with Edwards as he campaigned in New Hampshire. Watch his full report at 11:35 p.m. ET tonight on "Nightline."

On Wednesday, movie producer and liberal philanthropist David Geffen, a Bill Clinton devotee turned Obama supporter, made disparaging comments about the Clintons. Clinton's campaign responded by asking Obama to denounce Geffen's remarks and return the money raised by Geffen for Obama.

The saga continued throughout the day, with both sides going back and forth, but in the end some political strategists have declared John Edwards the ultimate victor.

"I don't know if that's true or not," Edwards said. "I'm going to run a positive campaign. I'm going to focus on what the country needs."

Saturday, Edwards, along with his wife Elizabeth, embarked on his third trip to New Hampshire since he announced his candidacy. Despite New Hampshire's bitter cold weather, the Edwardses campaigned from Nashua to Salem, hopping from house party to house party. Crowds of supporters packed in to hear Edwards speak.

For Edwards, New Hampshire is one of the crucial battleground states needed to survive the primary elections, which are less than a year away. Unlike other candidates, who have to overcome their unpopular positions on the Iraq war or their modified views on abortion, Edwards' two biggest hurdles appear to be Clinton and Obama, who have emerged as the Democratic favorites.

Despite this, Edwards believes that his message is getting across.

"I think our fairest estimate would be that the three of us are all being heard very well right now," he said. "I think some of the other candidates are struggling to be heard, but I have no concern about being heard."

Edwards also shows little concern when it comes to the race for money, even as Clinton and Obama continue to tap the dwindling fundraising resources.

"The proof there is in the pudding," Edwards declared. "I don't think anybody knows yet where the money's going. … We'll find out later this year how much each candidate raised."

"I'm confident I'll raise some money," he added. "I'm not guessing about this. I've done it. I know what you have to do, and I know the work that's involved in doing it. … I'm out there keeping my head down doing my work, and I'll have the money I need."

While Edwards is familiar with the hard work involved in running for the presidency, questions continue to linger regarding his political experience, or perceived lack thereof.

"I don't think it's a paper resume issue," said Edwards, who was a trial lawyer prior to serving one term as a senator. "It's not a short experience, it's a long experience. It's having come from a very humble place and being able to basically live the American dream, which is what I've done.

"[It's] having seen the struggles of my own family when I was young and growing up," he added, "and having been able to take advantage of what America has to offer and wanting other people to have that same chance."

Edwards' struggles, however, did not end with his youth. In 1996, his son Wade died in a car accident. And in 2004, five days before the general election, he learned his wife had been diagnosed with breast cancer.

"The two of us talked," said Edwards of his wife, who has since recovered from breast cancer and is a continuous presence on the campaign trail, "and Elizabeth did not want to say anything publicly about it because she was afraid it would distract people from what both of us believed was a very important election."

Mrs. Edwards was instrumental in shaping her husband's health care policy. Even while campaigning in New Hampshire, she participated in the small group discussions on health care. Edwards credits his wife's condition to the reason he is so committed to universal healthcare.

"I also saw what happens when women go through this," said Edwards. "Elizabeth always said that she's not unique, [that] millions of women have been through exactly the same thing. But it has an effect when you see your wife on a hospital bed, having red poison, effectively, going into her body to kill the cancer. … She was heroic."

Universal healthcare is one of the primary components on Edwards' agenda. In Nashua, at a New Hampshire house party, Edwards explained his plan to provide health coverage for all by 2012. He told ABC News he would pay for it by eliminating President Bush's tax cuts on the richest Americans.

"The money is either there or it's not there from the tax cuts," said Edwards. "And right now those tax cuts exist. So I think it can be used as a revenue stream for now. If we have to make alterations or find other revenue streams, we'll do it."

Another core issue of Edwards' platform is the Iraq war. Edwards believes the United States should pull out about 40,000 to 50,000 troops and gradually withdraw the rest throughout the course of a year. Detractors of this strategy argue that a full troop withdrawal would escalate Iraq into a full scale civil war.

"Any action could end up with Iraq ending in a total civil war," he said, "because the foundation for what's happening there now is the ongoing political conflict between the Sunni and the Shia. … But what I believe needs to be done is we need to shift responsibility to the Sunni and Shia leadership so that they take ownership of a political reconciliation."

But Edwards' position on Iraq wasn't always so clear-cut. He has since admitted that his vote to authorize the war was a mistake. His view differs from Clinton's. She has been critical of the war, but stops short of calling it a mistake.

"I think that's between her and her conscience," Edwards said of Clinton's decision. "If she believes that her vote is justifiable, she should defend it. If she believes that it was wrong, she should say the truth about it. … I think she'll get this question over and over and over. It'll be for her to decide what to say. Let's look forward rather than backward."

Looking forward to 2008, Edwards does not want anybody to be unclear on where he stands on the issues.

"Seasoning," Edwards says when asked how he's a different candidate than he was in 2004. "I'm the same human being with the same values, wanting to make sure people in America get the same kind of chances that I've had. But I think there's a maturity and a depth that comes from having been through this."

ABC News' Terry Moran and Mary Marsh contributed to this report.