Edwards speaks of Clinton, Obama, not affair

Edwards Affair
Former Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards, who spoke at Indiana University Tuesday, has largely stayed in exile since admitting an affair.Michael Conroy / AP
/ Source: The Associated Press

John Edwards didn't have to dodge tough questions from an Indiana University audience Tuesday, when the former presidential candidate returned to the stage three months after admitting to an extramarital affair.

The Democrat's 30-minute speech covered politics, poverty and his hopes for America and the world and he later discussed President-elect Obama and other topics from the audience.

But the half-hour question-and-answer period featured only written queries that had been submitted before his speech — and the affair he has acknowledged with filmmaker Rielle Hunter didn't surface.

After his public statements in August, Edwards said he did not plan to speak about the affair again.

Sophomore Mariela Colindres told the Indiana Daily Student she thought Edwards was right not to address the affair during the speech.

"Nothing he could have said to make it better, plus it's a personal issue," she said.

Graduate student Kortnee Warner agreed.

"I heard about some of those issues," Warner told the student newspaper. "It happens more than you realize it. I didn't make any character judgments."

In response to questions from the audience, Edwards praised Hillary Rodham Clinton's leadership and said his favorite superhero is Superman.

He said Obama's victory showed what was right with America.

Edwards said he wants to live in a country where everyone has a real opportunity regardless of their background. "In many ways, Barack Obama symbolizes what's possible in America," he said.

Edwards also said election results in North Carolina and Indiana showed that the country was ready for change. Obama won both states that President Bush won in 2004.

He also said Obama's campaign did well by discussing the war, the economy, health care and energy — things the electorate cared about.

"He focused on the things that really mattered," Edwards said.

He also said the intense and exhausting primary season helped Obama.

"That long, drawn-out, tough process played a role in making him a better candidate," Edwards said. "He was well-prepared for this general election campaign."

Edwards said Obama's most important job would be outlining his long-term vision, then getting global cooperation to help solve problems such as climate change, the economy and poverty.

"America cannot solve these problems alone," Edwards said.

Edwards spoke to a friendly crowd in the heavily Democratic college town. The audience applauded throughout the speech.

Edwards said young voters can make an enormous difference on the political stage and also bring fresh enthusiasm to the process.

"Your voice needs to be heard," he said.

Edwards said he wants to continue working for poor people struggling to survive in America and abroad, whether he remains in politics or not.

"That's what I want to spend my life doing," he said.