John Edwards’s chief New York fund-raiser, Leo Hindery Jr., likes a long race: Each year, the 59-year-old former YES Network and AT&T Broadband chief drives a Porsche GT3 RS in the 24-hour endurance race in Le Mans, France. He spoke to Geoffrey Gray about why he thinks Edwards hasn’t yet been able to generate much traction in the 2008 campaign—and is thus perfectly positioned to best front-runners Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.
Edwards really went after Hillary in last week’s debate.
If John is just another Democrat, he won’t be the nominee. The season has changed. You were playing exhibition ball. Now you’re playing real ball.
What’s the campaign’s breakout strategy?
Just to be thoroughly precise about who you are and what you believe in. If this thing is decided on personalities and popularity, John won’t be the nominee.
What do you like about him?
He’s easy to believe. I believed John Edwards when I first met him.
But hasn’t that been his problem, that he’s fighting for poverty programs and working for a hedge fund at the same time—and the $400 haircut?
Oh, please. I will tell you that President Clinton has made more money since leaving the White House than John Edwards. Mrs. Clinton’s haircuts cost every bit of $400. I think his total house [in Chapel Hill] cost $1.3 million [it was reported at $3.1 million]; that’s a fraction of what my apartment cost in Manhattan.
So what’s been his problem?
If John Edwards could retail himself to the body politic without the press, I think he’d be the nominee today. But he doesn’t get that privilege. He is in a lot of senses running against a nonincumbent incumbent.
If Edwards were abducted by aliens tomorrow, and to get him back you had to choose between Hillary and Obama, whom would you choose?
That’s like asking who I would love if my wife died. I’m so committed to John Edwards that I wouldn’t have a clue what to do if he wasn’t around.