Democrats Move Quick to Lessen Damage of John Edwards Affair

Sen. Barack Obama says Edwards will not have a convention role.

ByABC News
August 8, 2008, 6:39 PM

Aug. 8, 2008 — -- John Edwards' admission that he had an extramarital affair puts pressure on Sen. Barack Obama to quickly distance himself from the former North Carolina senator and prominent Democrats are calling on him to announce immediately that Edwards will not have any role at the Democratic National Convention.

Obama was traveling to Hawaii for a weeklong vacation at the time the story broke, but upon landing in Honolulu told reporters Edwards has indicated that he won't be speaking at the convention.

"The Edwards family indicated that they probably wouldn't be attending the convention," Obama said, "I understand that," he said, "look this is a difficult and painful time for them and I think they need to work through that process of healing."

Obama praised Edwards, saying, "John Edwards was a great champion of working people through the course of this campaign," he said, "many of his themes are ones that Democrats as a whole share, those will be amplified in the convention, and I wish them all well."

By tradition, unsuccessful primary contenders are showcased at the convention, and Obama aides suggested before today's revelation that Edwards and other former candidates would be part of the speaking program.

Edwards indicated during his interview with ABC News' Bob Woodruff that he had not yet decided whether he would still like to be part of the convention and the Obama campaign.

But with the news breaking barely two weeks before the spotlight falls on the Democratic Party in Denver, many Democrats say Edwards must be completely sidelined for the remainder of this campaign -- if not longer.

The decision should be easy for the Illinois Democrat, said Don Fowler, a former chairman of the Democratic National Committee

"If he struggles with it, I'll think less of him," Fowler said. "I don't think it requires more than about 15 seconds of thought."

"I don't mean to make light of it or be cavalier about it, but I just think the convention, on the ticket, in the Cabinet -- all that's precluded," he added.

Fowler was among a growing chorus of Democrats who had urged Edwards to respond to the allegations of an affair -- first reported in the National Enquirer -- to clear the air before the convention.

One Democratic official stressed the call would be Obama's alone -- but that it was difficult to imagine him wanting Edwards "anywhere near Denver" later this month.

Another blow to Democrats today -- Edwards former national finance chairman, Fred Baron, said he had made payments to Hunter in an attempt to keep her quiet about the affair, without the knowledge of Edwards.

Elizabeth Edwards, who has been a popular figure in the Democratic Party, especially among left-leaning bloggers, posted a blog on the liberal Daily Kos Web site Friday, asking for privacy for her family.

"John made a terrible mistake in 2006 ... this was our private matter," she wrote. " I ask that the public, who expressed concern about the harm John's conduct has done to us, think also about the real harm that the present voyeurism does and give me and my family the privacy we need at this time."

Another longtime friend of the Edwards argued that the former senator remains a valuable public figure.

"For many years, he has given voice to the voiceless and he has now taken responsibility for a personal mistake," said John Moylan, Edwards' 2008 South Carolina campaign director. "He still has much to offer this country and I look forward to helping any way that I can."