What was that whispering about, Senator Edwards?

At the conclusion of an event yesterday in Detroit that featured most of the Democratic presidential candidates, former North Carolina Senator John Edwards walked across the stage to shake hands with New York Senator Hillary Clinton.  Clinton’s mic was still "live" and their conversation was captured on tape.  ABC News has the details (and a link to video of the exchange.)  The condensed version:  the two agreed it would be good to dump the format of the past few debates in favor of having fewer people, er, candidates on stage at one time. 

I just interviewed Edwards by cell phone (he was headed to Iowa Falls for a 5:15 p.m. event) and asked him what he and Clinton were chatting about.

Edwards:  "I think that what I want to see happen is a much more substantive and indepth discussion of the big issues and I think Caucus-goers in Iowa and Democratic voters are entitled to that and I think we ought to try to find ways to do that.  I don’t think anybody should be excluded.

"I think if we could figure out a way, for example — this is just an idea, to randomly group the candidates into smaller groups.  They could even be drawn out of a hate, from my perspective, so that we have smaller groups.  Instead of a one-minute response to what we should do in Iraq, we could have a really serious discussion about what each of us believes needs to happen in Iraq and getting out of Iraq or the same thing would be true of universal heatlh care or energy or poverty — all the big issues that face the country.  That’s what I’d like to see happen."

In the 1988 campaign cycle, Jack Kemp and Richard Gephardt met face-to-face on a stage in Des Moines to debate economic policy.  I asked Edwards if he intended to approach another candidate and suggest a one-on-one debate.

Edwards: "I’m happy to consider any option, anything that will allow the voters to have more specific information about what we want to do as president and to get past soundbites and I think having more informed voters, having Caucus-goers know more about the distinctions we have on policy and our vision for the country is nothing but valuable for voters to make their decisions about who to support.  I think everybody ought to be able to be heard, but I think we need to find ways to make it deeper and more serious."

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
About O.Kay Henderson

O. Kay Henderson is the news director of Radio Iowa.


  1. rebelfriend says

    Edwards is right. This election is too important to be reduced to “sound bites.” Whatever can be done to allow voters to hear in-depth responses and open dicussions as to where the candidates stand, would be a good thing. It is just a shame that the American people supposedly own the “airwaves” and yet candidates must raise obscene amounts of money in order to buy time so that they can get their message out there. It is therefore in everyone’s best interest — candidates and voters alike — that another format be put quickly into place so that every “serious” candidate can be heard equally. For those “candidates” who are running soley to have a platform for their views, yet have not proven to have the support in any way to actually be able to win, should, at some point, not be included, so that we can get down to the serious business of electing a President.