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Might a John Edwards Dem convention role be in jeopardy?

August 7, 2008 |  8:19 pm

As Barack Obama heads off on vacation in Hawaii, his convention planners will be hard at work ironing out not only the logistics of Hillary Clinton's presence at the confab in Denver (will she or will she not insist on having her name placed in nomination?), but dealing with a potentially even trickier question: how large of a spotlight -- if any -- to give John Edwards.

Former Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina unsuccessfully sought the Democratic presidential nomination this year In a story Thursday, the Charlotte Observer quotes several prominent Democrats -- by name -- who urge Edwards to more convincingly confront allegations by the National Enquirer, which he has denied, that he had an affair and that his alleged mistress bore a child by him.

If he does not meet this challenge, these Democrats say, he risks losing a high-profile slot as a convention speaker.

"If there is not an explanation that’s satisfactory, acceptable and meets high moral standards, the answer is 'no,' he would not be a prime candidate to make a major address to the convention," Don Fowler, who headed the Democratic National Committee from 1995-97, told the newspaper.

Chris Lehane, a key Al Gore aide during the 2000 presidential campaign, added that "an appearance at the convention [by Edwards] would only highlight the unresolved story."

Edwards flatly dismissed the Enquirer allegations when they first surfaced -- albeit barely, and with little evidence to back them up -- last year when he was running for the Democratic presidential nomination.

But the story resurfaced in late July after the Enquirer staked out a Beverly Hills hotel and reported Edwards had met with his alleged mistress.

Edwards has continued to deny the affair allegations, but he has done so fleetingly and in terse answers to questions that he quickly cuts short.

For the most part, mainstream media outlets have not pursued the matter, in part because Edwards no longer is a presidential candidate nor does he hold a public office. The Times National Editor Scott Kraft explained the newspaper's stance in a note today, published on the Reader's Representative blog.

Still, as the Observer story demonstrates, it could become hard for Edwards to expect to play a prominent role at the Democratic convention later this month without more thoroughly answering questions raised by the Enquirer stories.

Earlier this week, one former newspaperman, Alan Mutter, had this to say on his Reflections of a Newsosaur blog:

"National Enquirer scoop or not, there appears to be way too much smoke here for the major mainstream media to continue ignoring the story about the out-of-wedlock child that John Edwards may have fathered.

With everyone from Drudge to Leno to Wonkette riffing on a tale that began trickling out at Christmas, the MSM look foolishly out of touch by continuing to remain silent about the allegation that Edwards fathered the girl recently born to a former campaign aide.

This is a messy and unseemly matter that I wish never had seen the light of day. Now that it is festering on the web, on talk radio and around the watercooler, mainstream journalists owe their readers and viewers their best professional efforts to sort fact from innuendo. ..."

-- Don Frederick

Photo credit: Associated Press

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