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Coulter Exchange Lends Itself to New Fundraising Drive By Elizabeth Edwards

Elizabeth Edwards launched a new fundraising effort Wednesday, one day after pleading with conservative commentator Ann Coulter to "stop the personal attacks" on Edwards' husband, Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards.

"John's campaign is about the issues — but pundits like Ann Coulter are trying to shout him down. If they will not stop, it is up to us cut through the noise. Help us fight back — please give what you can today," Elizabeth Edwards wrote in an e-mail letter that also appears on the campaign's Web site.

Edwards and Coulter got into it on Tuesday evening when Coulter was appearing as a guest on MSNBC's "Hardball With Chris Matthews." Edwards called into the show to scold Coulter for the best-selling author's saying that she wished John Edwards had been killed by terrorists, a take on a comment by comedian Bill Maher about Vice President Cheney.

"The things she has said over the years, not just about John but about other candidates, lowers the political dialogue at precisely the time we need to raise it," Edwards said in the phone call exchange.

Click here to watch the Coulter-Edwards phone call.

Mrs. Edwards said she did not consult her husband before confronting Coulter on the air, adding that she felt the pundit's remarks were "a dialogue on hatefulness and ugliness."

"It debases political dialogue," Edwards said. "It drives people away from the process. We can't have a debate about issues if you're using this kind of language."

Coulter responded with a laugh, and charged that Edwards was calling on her to stop speaking altogether. She questioned why Elizabeth Edwards was making a phone call on behalf of her husband, and criticized John Edwards for "stealing doctors' money" during his successful career as a trial lawyer.

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"I don't think I need to be told to stop writing by Elizabeth Edwards, thank you," Coulter said.

Appearing Monday on ABC's "Good Morning America," Coulter was asked about a March speech to the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, D.C., in which she used a gay slur to refer to Edwards. She was roundly picked apart for the comment.

She then suggested the indignation is a one-way street.

"If I'm going to say anything about John Edwards in the future, I'll just wish he had been killed in a terrorist assassination plot," Coulter responded, riffing on Maher's comment during his HBO show in which he said "people wouldn't be dying needlessly" if Cheney had been killed during an insurgent attack that happened while he was in Afghanistan.

With the close of the second-quarter fundraising period approaching Saturday, the Edwards campaign quickly turned Coulter's comments into fundraising fodder. Edwards adviser Joe Trippi sent an e-mail to supporters Tuesday, saying critics "will stop at nothing to tear John down."

"We are fighting back, but we need your help," Trippi wrote. "Give what you can today."

During the brief exchange on "Hardball," Coulter noted how she was being used by the Edwards campaign in their fundraising drive.

"I'm raising money on him," Coulter cracked. "And from what I've read, I'm raising more money than he is."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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