Video: Elizabeth Edwards

updated 9/8/2004 3:49:46 PM ET 2004-09-08T19:49:46

KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST:  Mrs. Edwards, thanks so much for your time. 

ELIZABETH EDWARDS, WIFE OF VICE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE JOHN EDWARDS:  It‘s great to be with you. 

OLBERMANN:  I wanted to start with the news of the week, the sense that the Democratic campaign might not have been tough enough, that Senator Kerry has gotten his closer face on.  He‘s rearranged the campaign team.  He and your husband are getting or going to get a lot rougher to get even, get mad.  Is there any truth in any of that?  Or were we in the media just looking for a good Labor Day political story? 

E. EDWARDS:  Oh, I think maybe a little of both. 

I think that the Republican Convention was pretty rough and took a lot of swipes.  And I think that it‘s important to respond to it, which means that we have to take a different tone in response than we did when we were talking about just what John Kerry and John Edwards are going to do about jobs or what they are going to do about health care. 

So now we‘re having to answer a lot of the fear-mongering, I think, that happened in the convention.  So we‘ll do it.  We‘ll do what‘s necessary to make the case to the American people why these two men should be the next president and vice president. 

OLBERMANN:  Anybody with an opinion in any election sits around and wonders, how can the other side feel the way they do?

E. EDWARDS:  Right. 

OLBERMANN:  I‘m not asking you, gosh, Mrs. Edwards, ‘How could anybody vote for President Bush?’ but, rather ‘Do you, from being on the campaign trail, sense why they would?’ 

E. EDWARDS:  Well, I talked to a lot of independent voters and some Republicans voters as well who are disillusioned and looking at whether John Kerry has the answer.  I don‘t really talk to the true believers so much, though I wish they would come. 

I mean, I‘m happy to talk to just about anybody.  I think, though, that probably the same dynamic is happening in 2004, in some respects, that happened in 2000, which was that they see George Bush as an of affable kind of guy.  He got up at the end of his convention speech, sort of made fun of himself.  The stuff that you like to make fun of on your show, he made fun of himself for doing at the convention. 

And everyone likes someone who is a little self-deprecating.  And then I think they have painted a very compelling picture of themselves as the sole place Americans can go if they want to be safe from terrorism.  I don‘t think it‘s an accurate picture, but they have painted a compelling picture.  And it is our job to make certain that the real abilities of John Kerry and John Edwards to address exactly these same issues is in front of the American people. 

Frankly, I have to be honest with you, Keith.  I don‘t think there‘s a single American, regardless of their party, who wouldn‘t do everything possible to keep us safe.  I don‘t think this ought to be part of the dialogue.  No one should be questioning… someone is going to be president next January.  And I don‘t want any American, Democrat or Republican, feeling like that person doesn‘t have every bit of the will to protect us that they need. 

So that‘s why I don‘t spend any time suggesting that the president isn‘t devoted to protecting us.  But neither do I think it is a worthwhile use of their time to be saying that John Kerry is not as interested and as prepared to do exactly the same thing. 

OLBERMANN:  Amen on the bipartisan quality.  And perhaps someday in politics, we‘ll see it again.  Who knows.

(LAUGHTER)

OLBERMANN:  You‘ve been described as your husband‘s top political adviser.  What are you telling him about this campaign about convincing people down the homestretch, even just specifically on this issue of national security?

E. EDWARDS:  Well, I don‘t really advise him about much of that stuff.  I‘m more of a sounding board for him.  He‘s: “I‘m thinking about saying something this way.  What do you think of it?” just the way a normal husband and wife do.  So I don‘t really advise him in terms of saying, “I think you ought to take a completely different tack than you‘re taking right now.” 

I think that he now feels compelled to make the case again about what exactly Senator Kerry and Senator Edwards would do.  So he talks about port security and he talks about chemical plants and he talks making even our airlines safer.  They‘re things that we could be doing that we‘re not.  So he talks about those things and tries to explain how comprehensively he and Senator Kerry have thought about the issues. 

But exactly how he says it, I trust him.  He‘s better at that than I am. 

OLBERMANN:  Would you assess for us?  Do you think that the campaign has made mistakes?  Maybe I‘m pushing too much here for these forthright, honest answers that we‘ve talked about.

E. EDWARDS:  I give you a little, you‘re going to take a mile, huh?

(LAUGHTER)

OLBERMANN:  Yes. 

E. EDWARDS:  I mean, every campaign makes, I think, probably makes some mistakes.  I mean, I saw you in dumbfounded silence yesterday about one that George—a misstatement George Bush wishes he could have back.  Our leaders are human.  And we don‘t pretend otherwise. 

What we hope to have are sort of thoughtful people who recognize when they make a mistake, that they can correct it.  And one thing I think the American people are looking for, too, is that they can also take responsibility for the mistakes.  And I think Senator Kerry has said—I think you heard it over the weekend, a number people saying this wasn‘t a particularly good August for the campaign. 

And we need to get back on track and respond to these charges and get back on track talking about the ways they‘re going to address the problems that face most Americans in their home. 

OLBERMANN:  All right, I‘ll give you one now that could be a softball that you could just pass on, if you want. 

E. EDWARDS:  OK, I like that.

OLBERMANN:  Do you have any idea what the president said in Missouri yesterday, what he was trying to say?  Do you have a clue or...

E. EDWARDS:  Yes.  I think that, instead of live, he might have meant livelihood. 

OLBERMANN:  Livelihood. 

E. EDWARDS:  Livelihood.  Is that good? 

(CROSSTALK)

E. EDWARDS:  He referred a couple weeks ago on Rush Limbaugh‘s show to Iowa as the hinterlands.  I think he probably meant heartland when he said that. 

(LAUGHTER)

E. EDWARDS:  I‘m just trying to give him a break.  I don‘t know for certain what he meant. 

OLBERMANN:  Anybody who has ever stood in front of a crowd has said something they meant and said something they didn‘t mean and said something that didn‘t make any sense whatsoever. 

E. EDWARDS:  I know.  I always tell John I meant to say ‘no’ when he asked me to marry him instead of ‘yes.’ 

(LAUGHTER)

OLBERMANN:  I would be remiss here if I didn‘t get your assessment of Teresa Heinz Kerry.  You presumably knew her before this campaign, but have come to know her much better since.  What is she like, in your opinion? 

E. EDWARDS:  This is an immensely intelligent woman who has an incredibly interesting life. 

And she has chosen as an adult, when she could have chosen any kind of idle activity that she wanted, has chosen instead to spend virtually all of her free time devoted to causes that she makes happen through her foundations that her husband‘s company and her first husband‘s wealth provided her.  She has made a difference in health care in western Pennsylvania and really across the world. 

She‘s fought environmental fights.  She‘s worked for prescription drug plans in a number of states across this country.  And this is a woman who didn‘t have to do any of it.  And I have immense respect for her.  She‘s been, I think, particularly with some journalists in western Pennsylvania, a target for a long time.  And there‘s really no reason whatsoever for that to be so.  I respect her.  And I think that there‘s no question whatsoever that, when elected, when her husband is elected, she will be the most generous first lady we‘ve ever had. 

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