Elizabeth Edwards, the wife of Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards, worries her openness about her cancer diagnosis is garnering unwanted attention.
"The less this has to do with me and the more it has to do with the general conversation we can have about health care, cancer research or actually even mortality, I’m completely happy going in those directions," she told Radio Iowa in a telephone interview. "The more it’s: ‘How’s Elizabeth doing?’ ‘What’s Elizabeth doing?’ I don’t think it’s really useful. We’re already too obsessed with the cult of personalities."
Mrs. Edwards says she and her husband have joked that because of her cancer fight, some are trying to bestow on her the "Saint Elizabeth" title, but she says it’s not one she wants. "I worry about it changing the conversation from things we should be talking about," she says. "I worry that it — this is too strong a word — deifies me, when it shouldn’t."
Republican Fred Thompson, a potential presidential candidate, revealed this week that he has lymphoma, but it’s in remission. Mrs. Edwards says perhaps the combination of high-profile cancer-related revelations — hers, Thompson’s, and White House press secretary Tony Snow’s — may prompt the country to resolve to finish the fight to find a cure for cancer. "What Fred and I have in common more is that we’ve lost a child. He lost a child right before he left the Senate. She was 31, I think, at the time," Mrs. Edwards says. "When I think of what we have in common, I actually don’t think of cancer."
Wade Edwards, the couple’s oldest child, died in a car accident when he was 16. Fred Thompson’s daughter died of a heart attack in 2002.
Mrs. Edwards is in Des Moines this afternoon to speak with supporters at the campaign’s Iowa office. Her husband lead a newly-released poll of people who were at house parties around the country Tuesday night, listening to all the presidential candidates talk about the war.
Mrs. Edwards contends it’s her husband’s "candor" and his decision to admit he made "a mistake" in voting to authorize the war that have earning him support among Democratic activists. "All of those things sort of play into both the intellectual evaluation people make and the gut evaluation, which may be more important, about the quality of the human being," she says.