With Trial, Edwards Enters Next Chapter of Political Soap Opera
On any given day in the fall of 2007, John Edwards could be heard preaching his populist prose to Iowa voters who eagerly packed into lumber barns, VFW halls and Culver restaurants across the state.
His message was less about the two Americas of his 2004 campaign — the haves and the have-nots — and more about fighting for the middle class and ending poverty in America.
The Democratic candidate had spent nearly all of 2007 logging days in Iowa traveling across the state’s 99 counties. He had every reason to believe he could be president. He felt the country would let then-Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama destroy each other and he would rise as the more experienced and safe nominee.
To many voters, Edwards could have been president of the United States. Five years later, the possibilities for Edwards are completely different.
Edwards’ criminal trial begins Monday in Greensboro, North Carolina.
He is charged with six felony and misdemeanor counts related to the money dealings of his failed presidential campaign.
Among other things, the government alleges that Edwards “knowingly and willfully” received nearly $1 million in illegal campaign contributions to hide his pregnant mistress from the public so he could continue his presidential bid. Edwards acknowledges that while his actions were wrong, they were not illegal. He could face up to 30 years in prison.
Edwards met Rielle Hunter in early 2006 at bar at The Regency Hotel in New York City. Hunter approached Edwards, not believing it was him. Later that evening, Edwards and Hunter met again, privately. The man who consistently spoke about two Americas began living two lives.
Hunter describes herself as a filmmaker. Born Lisa Jo Druck, she is believed to be the inspiration of a party girl character in a Jay McInerny novel. The 40-something Rielle told Edwards that she could help his campaign. Edwards hired her to produce a few videos that would present the politician in a more relaxed manner. The videos were called “webisodes” and were posted to Edwards’ campaign site.