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Did Edwards’ affair sink Hillary?
How Iowa, and the Democratic race, could have been different
W

hat happened
Hillary Clinton’s former communications director, Howard Wolfson, said that Clinton would probably have won the Iowa caucus, and then the Democratic nomination, if John Edwards’ extramarital affair had been confirmed last year, forcing him out of the race. Barack Obama won in Iowa, giving his campaign a big boost; Edwards came in second, and Clinton a close third. (ABCNews.com)

What the commentators said
Wolfson’s contention “is refreshingly blunt in its stupidity,” said David Weigel in Reason’s Hit & Run blog. The polls show that, thanks largely to the Iraq war—which Obama and most Iowa caucus-goers opposed, Edwards apologized for not opposing, and Clinton was unapologetic about once supporting—Obama would have beat Clinton by an even larger margin in Iowa in an Edwards-free contest.

Wolfson “actually makes a decent point,” said Mo Rocca in AOL News’ Political Machine blog, but then again, you can play with hypotheticals for “any imaginable outcome,” even a Mike Gravel victory. Whatever the "legitimacy of the Clinton campaign’s complaints,” though, this shows there “clearly is not peace among the Democrats.”

“Look, the Clintons have their understandable, if not always legitimate, gripes about losing the nomination,” said Jonah Goldberg in National Review Online’s The Corner blog. But the one thing they can never complain about is “smooth-talking southern politicians who cheat on their wives and then brazenly lie about it.”

If Edwards made any difference, he probably hurt Obama more than Clinton, said Chris Bowers in the blog Open Left. But his big impact in the race was in pushing both frontrunners "to the left on a variety of topics.” And for that “net rhetorical benefit for progressivism,” if nothing else, “I am glad Edwards was in the campaign.”

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