Anti-Edwards Remark Blasted
John Edwards' campaign fired back Saturday after a conservative pundit used a homophobic slur in reference to the Democratic presidential contender.
Columnist and author Ann Coulter, speaking Friday night at a conference attended by Vice President Dick Cheney, said, "I was going to have a few comments on the other Democratic presidential candidate, John Edwards, but it turns out you have to go into rehab if you use the word 'faggot.'"
Members of the crowd at the Conservative Political Action Conference sponsored by the American Conservative Union let out gasps and "oohs."
Many national newspapers covered the event, but most chose not to mention Coulter's remark.
Edwards, a former North Carolina senator and vice-presidential candidate, grew up in Robbins. His campaign manager, David Bonior, struck back in an e-mail to supporters. Bonior called Coulter's actions one of the worst moments in American politics.
"This is just a taste of the filth that the right-wing machine is gearing up to throw at us," he said.
The Edwards campaign is attempting to use Coulter's flap as a fundraising opportunity. Bonior asked supporters to help in the fight by raising $100,000 in "Coulter Cash" by week's end.
Bonior said he couldn't bring himself to repeat her "shameless display of bigotry," but did provide a link to a YouTube video clip. The video is also posted on Edwards' campaign Web site.
This is not the first time that Coulter has suggested that a Democrat was a homosexual. Last July, Coulter called former Vice President Al Gore a "total fag" on MSNBC's "Hardball." In recent years, she has said similar things about Sen. Hillary Clinton and former President Bill Clinton.
"Coulter's attack was no accident," Bonior said. "It happened on national television at one of the year's biggest conservative conferences. Dick Cheney and most of the Republican candidates were in the audience. She was even introduced by Mitt Romney."
Cheney spoke to the conference Thursday. Romney, former governor of Massachusetts, is running for president. He said in his introduction of Coulter that hearing from her was a "good thing." At the same conference last year, she had used the term "raghead."
Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani spoke at the event prior to Coulter. He is also seeking the GOP presidential nomination.
"John was singled out for a personal attack because the Republican establishment knows he poses the greatest threat to their power," Bonior said. "Since they have nothing real to use against him, Coulter's resorting to the classic right-wing strategy of riling up hate to smear a progressive champion. And the Republican attack dogs will keep playing this despicable trick as long as they think it works."
Democratic Party Chief Howard Dean was quoted in Editor and Publisher as saying that Republicans and Democrats should be able to agree that these type of attacks are out of line.
Some Republican supporters and bloggers have criticized Coulter. Syndicated columnist Michelle Malkin and blogger Ed Morrissey both disapproved of the comments.
Morrissey wrote: "Yeah, that's just what CPAC needs -- an association with homophobia. Nice work, Ann. ... She deserves every bit of criticism she's getting."
The Los Angeles Times was the only national media outlet in attendance to report Coulter's comments. The New York Times, The Washington Post and Associated Press all ignored her.
Edwards himself was criticized after the vice-presidential debate in 2004 when he mentioned that Cheney has a gay daughter.
Matthew Moriarty can be reached at 693-2479 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
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