EDITOR'S NOTE - Nedra Pickler covered both of John Edwards' presidential campaigns.
WASHINGTON (AP) - When John Edwards declared himself a candidate in his first presidential campaign, his South Carolina rally was interrupted by rowdy critics who ridiculed the trial lawyer-turned-politician as a liberal and an ambulance chaser. Elizabeth Edwards stepped forward, took the microphone and asked for "good Southern manners." Hecklers hushed.
The moment showed why Elizabeth Edwards was her husband's biggest asset. She was his chief defender, even when many people thought he didn't deserve it, and helped propel his political career with charm, humor, intelligence and directness.
After I had written about their appearance that day, I headed to catch a flight back to Washington only to see her waiting alone at the same gate. We were both tired after a long, hot day of campaign rallies in our dark business jackets as I approached her to reintroduce myself since our last meeting months earlier.
"I know who you are," she said - my first sign just how closely she monitored news coverage and everything else involving her husband's campaign. "Let's go ask them to seat us together since no one else will be able to stand the smell of us."