My colleague David Von Drehle has a insightful piece about Elizabeth Edwards life and death. Read it here.
During the 2004 campaign, I had an interview with John Edwards the day of the second debate between John Kerry and George W. Bush. We were flying from New Jersey to Detroit and I had 20 minutes with him at the end of the flight. It was a terrible interview — even by Edwards’ own admission. He spent the entire time reading the Wall Street Journal (at the time I worked for Dow Jones’ biggest rival, Bloomberg). “He’s just woken up from a nap,” said his staffer. “He’s grumpy. Why don’t you have a beer with him after the debate? Really get to know him.”
So, even though my not-so-flattering story had already been filed, I found myself at the hotel bar at 10pm having a beer with Edwards. He sat down and almost without preamble asked, “Have I ever told you how I met my wife?” No, I replied. And so he launched into the story.
It was the first day of Edwards’ first year of law school. In one of the classes the professor began quizzing students on homework many of them hadn’t even realized they were supposed to have read. The professor called out student after student and no one could answer the question properly. Finally, he called on a stunning brunette at the front of the classroom. She answered the question flawlessly. “I was in love,” Edwards recalled, “from the minute she opened her mouth.” The brunette was Elizabeth.
The teacher then moved on and launched into a complicated dissection of an obscure legal code. “I was lost,” Edwards said. The class was silent, when Elizabeth raised her hand. Edwards couldn’t believe she’d been following along: the woman must be a prodigy. “That was about as clear as mud,” she admonished the professor. “Go over it again in plain English.”
“Right then I knew I wanted to marry her,” said Edwards.
I left that night, more impressed with the absent Elizabeth than her husband. Not dissimilar thoughts, I think, to many who’ve encountered the couple. During the 2008 campaign, I got to know her a bit. Enough to say, tonight we lost a smart, brave, sassy woman. God rest her soul.