Surely, a man who has been the single-most important political figure in Louisiana during the past fifty years, who has dominated the course of the state would not want to be one of many as a freshman Congressman?
And, surely, the politician who has won every election but one in his career, would know that he faces significant odds winning as a old-time Democrat in a conservative district although he appears to be a shoe-in to land in the runoff. But can he win?
These are the issues I discussed after Edwin Edwards, and former governors Buddy Roemer and Kathleen Blanco appeared on the podium at Loyola University in New Orleans’s Institute of Politics’ Ed Renwick ’s event, Wednesday night.
At age 86, can Edwards still compete with candidates one-third to half his age? His performance at Loyola shows that his wit and charm will rock the crowd. He will steal the show. He will dominate the debates. His age, strangely, might actually work to his benefit. Voters will want to see him and will enjoy the wisdom and humor of the ageless wonder cajun. But, due to that age, his politics, his controversies, will they vote for him? That, is an altogether different question indeed.
So for the next eight months, Edwards will campaign with his republican wife Trina at his side--who is currently running the campaign. You can expect Louisiana voters, many who were not alive when he was last governor to be amused and amazed by the “sly-gray fox”. You know the national media and national talk shows will bestow the red carpet for him which to walk.
Edwards, the ex-con, is making a comeback and whether he wins or loses, you can book it--the world will be entertained and his legacy is just beginning.
Here is the audio of the interview a rough but accurate transcript of my interview with Edwards post-event:
Sabludowsky: Governor, you’re sharp as ever. You’re absolutely incredible. Age doesn’t seem to age you. You’re incredible in terms of your sense of humor, your intelligence, your recollection. So I guess my question is, do you really want to be in Congress? I heard what you said tonight and I also heard you on the TV interview. But you have a seven month year old child?
Edwards: So much needs to be done and so much is undone. It’s so difficult for people to reach anybody in the government. Nobody seems to care, and if they do care, they don’t seem to have the ability to get things done. I know how to make things work. I’ve been to Congress. I know how Congress works. I have the experience of having served as Governor, and I can use that maturity and experience and knowledge to help make things better. I may not do it all; I don’t intend to. But I think I can do a little bit better.
Sabludowsky: Assuming that you win, you're going to be one of 435 members. You've been the governor of the state. So going back to Congress and being one out of 435..?
Edwards: How about the one, rather than just one? I’ll make my voice heard. I'm not bashful. I think I know what I want done for my district, and in a small way help the nation become a better nation. I console myself by saying, “I sure can't make it any worse.”
Sabludowsky: One last question. Obviously, it is a very conservative district. And so, given all the obstacles, do you really think that you're going to be able to win? Given all the obstacles, the prison, the four terms, age.
Edwards: I don't know any candidate running for office who didn’t think he could win. Anybody who runs not thinking he can win is foolish. As far as the obstacles...I'm 86 years old. Obviously, these other candidates can beat me in a foot race, but this is a political race, and you can expect a different outcome. About the trial: One of the things that I hope people will eventually learn in spite of the misrepresentation from much of the press reports is that I was never convicted or even charged of any wrongdoing as a Governor. This all happened after I had been out of the Governor's office and Mike Foster was the Governor of the state. It didn't have anything to do with bribery as a governor or payments made to me or giving riverboat licenses. They like to talk about me going to prison for giving riverboat licenses. That's ridiculous. Nobody in the trial testified to that. Quite the contrary; the members of the board that testified all said I never made any effort to influence the board. And that's a distinction. Now, people have a right to judge me, but they ought to do it fairly and with the fact.