Now that his campaign corruption trial is behind him, some supporters think former Democratic presidential hopeful John Edwards could have a second chance in public life.
A federal jury in North Carolina last week acquitted Edwards on one count and failed to reach a verdict on five others. A mistrial was declared on those charges and the government is not expected to seek a retrial.
Edwards, 58, was accused of illegally using nearly $1 million in campaign donations to hide his pregnant mistress, Rielle Hunter, during his 2008 presidential bid — while his own wife, Elizabeth Edwards, was battling terminal cancer.
Testimony at the trial dwelt heavily on Edwards’ unsavory behavior, but some supporters think he can be forgiven.
“The whole spotlight was on him because of his extracurricular activities,” Raleigh resident Lemon Tapp, 42, told The News & Observer
. “I can’t judge him. I’m a person, just like he is.”
Andrew Taylor, head of the political science department at North Carolina State University, said the public is more likely to forgive a politician for a sexual scandal.
“I think the scandal was seen more about sex than corruption,” Taylor told the newspaper. “If you are deemed corrupt, it’s very difficult for people to get past.”
Cary, N.C., resident Gail Eluwa told The News & Observer she can get past Edwards’ mistakes because he has owned up to them. She also thinks Edwards, a former U.S. senator, has served his state well.
“I think North Carolinians are very forgiving people,” she said. “I think the general public still likes John Edwards because of the work that he’s done.”
Taylor thinks Edwards might have trouble getting elected to public office again. He thinks the disgraced politician might be more successful if he returned to his former career as a trial attorney.
“He might want to go into practice again,” Taylor told the paper. “Any career in public life is gone.”
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