elizabeth edwards

The First Time I Met John Edwards

John Edwards in a 2008 Sojourners interview. Photo by Ryan Roderick Beiler

John Edwards in a 2008 Sojourners interview. Photo by Ryan Roderick Beiler

The first time I met John Edwards was in the summer of 1997. He was in Charlotte “for a little case we have in Mecklenburg” and called and said he wanted to talk with me. The year before, I won the Democratic Primary for Congress in the 9th District, and he wanted to tell me of his plans to become the next United States senator from North Carolina in the 1998 election.

We got together on a humid mid-afternoon in the restaurant of a SouthPark hotel, and for about 90 minutes — from start to finish — he listened as articulately as he spoke. He asked broad, open-ended questions but with a focused clarity. He didn’t dodge a single question of mine, answering softly but with a direct intensity that I could not perceive as anything less than absolute sincerity.

At the end of the discussion, he graciously accepted my explanation that, despite my eager willingness to share  any thoughts and insights he might find helpful, my support (for whatever it was worth) was going to my long-time friend D.G. Martin.

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