Elizabeth Edwards says she is scared of the "rabid, rabid Republican" who owns property across the street from her Orange County home — and she doesn't want her kids going near the gun-toting neighbor.
Edwards, the wife of Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards, particularly recalls the time neighbor Monty Johnson brought out a gun while chasing workers investigating a right of way off his property. The Edwards family has yet to meet Johnson in person.
"I wouldn't be nice to him anyway," Edwards said in an interview. "I don't want my kids anywhere near some guy who when he doesn't like somebody, the first thing he does is pull a gun out. It scares the business out of me."
But Johnson defended the occasion he brandished a gun, saying those on his land didn't have the proper approval.
"I use the gun for protection, and I considered that an appropriate time," Johnson said. "Sometimes you have to take drastic measures."
Edwards views Johnson as a "rabid, rabid Republican" who refuses to clean up his "slummy" property just to spite her family, whose lavish 28,000-square-foot estate is nearby on 102 wooded acres.
Johnson, 55, acknowledges his Republican roots. But he takes offense to the suggestion he has purposefully left his property, including an old garage that he leases for use as a car shop, in dilapidated condition.
Johnson said he has lived his entire life on the property, which he said his family purchased before the Great Depression. He said he's spent a lot of money to try and fix up the 42-acre tract.
"I have to budget. I have to leave within my means," Johnson said. "I don't have millions of dollars to fix the place."
Johnson, who has posted a "Go Rudy Giuliani 2008" sign on a fence just 100 feet from the entrance to the Edwards' driveway, has criticized Edwards for the scale of their nearby home. The property and home, which includes an indoor basketball court, an indoor handball court and an indoor pool, is valued at $5.3 million.
The Edwardses are still putting the final touches on the property, which they purchased in 2003.
"I thought he was supposed to be for the poor people," Johnson said. "But does he ever socialize with any poor people? He doesn't speak to me."
Johnson said he has put his property on the market, in part blaming the high property taxes for his decision to leave. He also wants to move for another reason.
"I don't want to live somewhere where someone's always complaining about me," he said.