CBS ‘Early Show’ Praises ‘Amazing Grace’ of Elizabeth Edwards

On Thursday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Harry Smith continued the media’s love affair with John and Elizabeth Edwards following the former Senator dropping out of the presidential race: "John Edwards says he is stepping aside so 'history can blaze its path.' And it will tonight. Also this morning, we're going to look at the amazing grace of Elizabeth Edwards who has campaigned passionately beside her husband all these months despite her diagnosis that she is terminally ill."

In a later segment, CBS Correspondent Tracy Smith began by exclaiming: "They've been a team since the start. And that's how they went out. Elizabeth by John's side. It's the end of a campaign made all the more difficult by a disease that would have made a lesser woman give up long ago."

While Harry Smith portrayed Elizabeth Edwards as graceful, reporter Tracy Smith referred to her as being an "attack dog" against the likes of Ann Coulter, whom Edwards ambushed on MSNBC’s "Hardball" on June 26 of last year:

TRACY SMITH: In fact, Elizabeth has been her husband's most trusted adviser, an outspoken attorney, she sometimes played attack dog like the time she took on Ann Coulter.

ELIZABETH EDWARDS: I'm the mother of that boy who died. I don't think that's serving them or this country very well.

This is the same Elizabeth Edwards who accepted the "Rage for Justice Award" in June of last year, as outlined in a column by MRC President and NewsBusters Publisher, Brent Bozell.  

Tracy Smith portrayed the Edwards’ in a sympathetic light throughout the segment:

Law school sweethearts, John and Elizabeth met at the University of North Carolina, got married and started a family. They had two children, Kate and Wade. But in 1996, their picture-perfect life was shattered when 16-year-old Wade was killed in a car crash. But somehow Elizabeth Edwards looked into the face of unbearable sadness and found hope. At the age of 48, aided by modern medicine, she gave birth to Emma Clare. And two years later, Jack. They were a frequent and amusing presence in their father's 2004 bid for the vice presidency.

Smith concluded the segment with this glowing proclamation:

Harry spoke with Elizabeth in New Hampshire...In what would ultimately be her final campaign appearance, causing some to speculate whether she even had the strength to stand by her husband's side anymore. But yesterday there she was...And the Edwards campaign will be remembered not just for the issues that he took on but for the grace, endurance and strength she showed, win or lose.

Here is the full transcript of the segment:

7:00AM TEASER:

HARRY SMITH: Edwards drops out. Blazing a trail in history tonight as Clinton and Obama ready for a one-on-one debate, assuring the country will have the first woman or black as a candidate for president.

7:01AM TEASER:

SMITH: This debate as John Edwards says he is stepping aside so 'history can blaze its path.' And it will tonight. Also this morning, we're going to look at the amazing grace of Elizabeth Edwards who has campaigned passionately beside her husband all these months despite her diagnosis that she is terminally ill.

8:33AM SEGMENT:

RUSS MITCHELL: As we reported, Senator John Edwards bowed out of the presidential race in the same city where he declared his candidacy, New Orleans. Standing by his side were his three children and Elizabeth, his wife of 31 years.Early Show National Correspondent Tracy Smith reports.

TRACY SMITH: They've been a team since the start. And that's how they went out. Elizabeth by John's side. It's the end of a campaign made all the more difficult by a disease that would have made a lesser woman give up long ago.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Mrs. Edwards how are you feeling by the way?

ELIZABETH EDWARDS: I feel great. I feel strong. I feel good.

SMITH: Law school sweethearts, John and Elizabeth met at the University of North Carolina, got married and started a family. They had two children, Kate and Wade. But in 1996, their picture-perfect life was shattered when 16-year-old Wade was killed in a car crash. But somehow Elizabeth Edwards looked into the face of unbearable sadness and found hope. At the age of 48, aided by modern medicine, she gave birth to Emma Clare. And two years later, Jack. They were a frequent and amusing presence in their father's 2004 bid for the vice presidency.

JOHN EDWARDS: This is Emma Clare, and this is Jack.

SMITH: In the final days of that campaign, Elizabeth discovered a lump in her breast. It was cancer. A portrait of stoicism and strength, she kept it a secret from all but those closest to her until after the election.

JOHN EDWARDS: The best explanation and the reason I'm announcing here in the Ninth Ward of New Orleans are these young people who are behind me right here.

SMITH: In December 2006, when John Edwards announced he was making a second run at the White House, it seemed like Elizabeth was cancer free, but three months later, the couple shared some horrible news.

JOHN EDWARDS: Her cancer is back.

SMITH: When Edwards thought about getting out, Elizabeth convinced him to stay in.

ELIZABETH EDWARDS: I'm as ready as any person can be for that.

SMITH: In fact, Elizabeth has been her husband's most trusted adviser, an outspoken attorney, she sometimes played attack dog like the time she took on Ann Coulter.

ELIZABETH EDWARDS: I'm the mother of that boy who died. I don't think that's serving them or this country very well.

SMITH: Is this a little bit of Elizabeth unplugged?

EDWARDS: I don't -- I mean, this is a conversation I had with --

JOHN EDWARDS: If it's Elizabeth unplugged, she's been unplugged the 30 plus years that I've known her.

SMITH: Harry spoke with Elizabeth in New Hampshire.

HARRY SMITH: How are you doing? Is this frustrating for you?

ELIZABETH EDWARDS: Well, I mean, sometimes press coverage stuff is frustrating.

SMITH: In what would ultimately be her final campaign appearance, causing some to speculate whether she even had the strength to stand by her husband's side anymore. But yesterday there she was.

JOHN EDWARDS: In the next few days I expect to be the one getting the bulk of his support at home, and the kids, I know, are looking forward to a few uninterrupted days.

SMITH: And the Edwards campaign will be remembered not just for the issues that he took on but for the grace, endurance and strength she showed, win or lose. For "The Early Show," Tracy Smith, CBS News, New York.

Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is a News Analyst for MRC