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Transcript: Elizabeth Edwards Stands By Her Man

This is a partial transcript from On the Record with Greta Van Susteren, February 5, 2004.

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(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN EDWARDS, D-N.C., PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We stand at a crossroads.

Will we have a leader, a president who actually understands the problems of working people? Will we have the courage to use new, fresh ideas to solve old problems like poverty? Will we have the strength and conviction to make this vision of hope and optimism into a reality?

If the American people give me a shot at George Bush next November, I will give them back the White House! It is their White House, and we will give it back to them.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, HOST: Just few hours ago, Senator John Edwards' opponent Senator John Kerry secured a key endorsement from Congressman Dick Gephardt. Gephardt's own presidential campaign collapsed after Iowa.

Senator Edwards' wife, Elizabeth, joins us from Washington.

Welcome. And congratulations to your husband through you for South Carolina. Great showings in Iowa and New Hampshire.

What does it feel like for you?

ELIZABETH EDWARDS, SEN. JOHN EDWARDS' WIFE: It feels great. It feels gratifying to see John's message getting through. It feels great for the young people who have worked so hard for him for months on end when -- when there might not have been any rewards in -- through the media. So they -- but they got their rewards when the returns came in.

VAN SUSTEREN: If you had to isolate one thing about your husband, in your mind, what his greatest attribute to be president of the United States?

EDWARDS: I think he has an unshakeable optimism. He believes that any problem can be solved if we are willing to work hard enough, if we bring the resources we need to solve that problem - - intelligence and creativity and determination and focus.

He has all those qualities. He believes he can solve them. His life story has been the story of being able to meet every obstacle that's faced him and overcome it, and he just believes that we can do that as a people as well.

VAN SUSTEREN: Do you remember the first time you ever saw him?

EDWARDS: Close to the first time. I don't actually remember the first time. We met as first-year law students, and he was in a group of friends -- maybe 20 or 30 of us who were friends in law school. Exactly the first time, I don't remember.

VAN SUSTEREN: Did you like him immediately, or did it take a while for him to grow on you?

EDWARDS: Well, a little bit. I mean, he's a lot different now.

Our backgrounds are pretty different. He comes from a small town in North Carolina. I traveled around. My dad was in the Navy. He was a Navy pilot. I had been to English graduate school. He had graduated from college in three years. And so he was younger.

And I didn't see that we had that much in common. A friend of ours thought that we did. It turned out he was right, I was wrong.

VAN SUSTEREN: In terms of the campaign, many of the spouses have very different roles. How involved are you in the senator's campaign?

EDWARDS: We've been married 26 years. We've talked about things every day of our marriage.

In fact, I think we've talked every single day except -- he and our oldest son climbed Kilimanjaro in 1995, and there's no cell coverage on Kilimanjaro, so we didn't talk those days.

So, aside from that, we've talked every single day about everything that we think's important in our lives or issues. So, when he has an issue to consider, he talks to me about it. I try to be a good sounding board for him.

VAN SUSTEREN: Do you like the campaign? I mean, some people who are involved with campaigns aren't crazy about the whole process.

EDWARDS: No, I love really nearly every bit of it.

I love the policy. I used to practice law, and I quit in 1996, so this gives me an opportunity to sort of keep my mind working, which is great.

I love meeting people. As I said, I grew up in the Navy. I'm used to sticking my hand out, saying to people, you know, hi, I'm Elizabeth Edwards now and meeting them and trying to get to know them quickly. You know, that's a really easy thing for me.

And I spend time around people who are really energized, want to do something about the direction of the country's going, and I keep saying these are people who would be my friends if they lived in my home town.

VAN SUSTEREN: You know, Senator Edwards always talks about the poor and he -- that's his campaign, but the poor don't vote. Why is he always talking about -- that may not be politically good. It might be a kind and gentle thing. But why?

EDWARDS: Well, he always says that he knows that, by and large, people who are poor don't vote, and, by and large, if you looked at a poll of what issues people think are important, it might be down at the bottom.

But, this is a moral test for us about whether or not we are willing to do the thing that's the right thing to do, whether or not it's the most politically persuasive argument to make, and I think, in a sense -- for a lot of people who hear it -- it resonates with them because they see that what he's doing is sort of reaching into them, reaching to the best part of them, inspiring them do the right thing, the unselfish thing, which, frankly, I think people want to do.

But they need someone to lead them to that, and John, I think, is doing that.

VAN SUSTEREN: We only have 30 seconds left, Mrs. Edwards. Everyone keeps asking him -- and he keeps giving us the same answer. They say what about vice president, and he keeps saying no, no, no. Do you think that he could be talked out of that if it turns out he's not the number one candidate?

EDWARDS: Well, you couldn't help yourself but ask this question, right?

VAN SUSTEREN: I couldn't help myself. I know how he answers it, so I figured I'd go to you.

EDWARDS: No. You won't get any further with me. I think that the -- that it's really important that he be at the top of this ticket, if we need to win in 2004, if the Democratic principles are going to prevail, and...

VAN SUSTEREN: And we'll have to -- and I'm sorry to cut you off.

EDWARDS: It's all right. It's all right.

VAN SUSTEREN: It's unfortunate. It's my hard break. I've got to cut you off, Mrs. Edwards.

EDWARDS: No, it's no problem whatsoever.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right. Thank you very much for joining us. And good luck in the next races.

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