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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Liz Edwards tiptoes around Fl. campaign ban



ST. PETERSBURG - The presidential campaign trail can be a confusing place these days, especially in Florida, where Democratic candidates have pledged not to campaign for votes, only cash.

So when Elizabeth Edwards, spoke at a luncheon in St. Petersburg about breast cancer today, it provided local voters a rare peek at the spouse of one Democratic front runner, her husband John Edwards.

But while the event was open to the public for $100 a pop, reporters were not invited.

"Two or three weeks ago we were notified that Mrs. Edwards wanted to close the event to the press,'' said Robert Sherman, executive director of the St. Anthony’s Health Care Foundation, which sponsored the luncheon to raise money for the new center. "We signed a contract where she reserved that right. I’m in a Catch-22 here. I have to respect the contract.''

Edwards signed more than 100 books today before giving a short speech about the importance of connecting with others in her fight with cancer.

A St. Petersburg Times reporter attended after paying the $100 cover that paid for a chicken ceasar salad lunch. Edwards was paid $25,000 to appear.

Edwards exhibited an easy-going, unpretentious manner before the 290 attendees, who gave her a standing ovation.

"Sit yourselves down,'' she said to laughter.

Edwards spoke about the loneliness she felt waking up in the middle of the night with aching bones, and scrubbing her head not with shampoo but with soap.

"We can’t avoid our mortality,'' Edwards said. "That journey is frightening when taken alone.''

She said the sympathy cards she has received from thousands have been transforming.

"I was overwhelmed by the lines of support that were cast out to me when I was at sea,'' Edwards.

She veered from any mention of politics. When she talked about how a friend regretted that her loss of hair due to cancer made her look like Dick Cheney (a line which drew laughs), Edwards was quick to say she didn’t mean anything by it.

"Not a political statement,'' she said.

-- Michael VanSickler, Times staff writer


[Last modified: Wednesday, September 15, 2010 11:18am]


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