Wednesday 28 March 2007
Raleigh, NC - Elizabeth Edwards' sobering diagnosis of incurable cancer has triggered an outpouring of support, with a surge of donations to her husband's presidential campaign and affirmation of his candidacy in opinion polls.
The amount of money given to Edwards' campaign via the Internet increased by about 50 percent since the couple announced last week that Elizabeth Edwards' cancer had returned. A CBS News poll released Wednesday found that by a 2-to-1 margin, voters support Edwards' decision to continue his campaign.
Since last Thursday, Edwards has collected about $540,000 online, according to a tally by ActBlue.com, which counts all the donations made through the Edwards Web site. It initially took Edwards two months to reach his early online fundraising goal of $1 million, and the campaign had languished just above that mark in the weeks before the cancer announcement.
By comparison, New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton easily raised $1 million over the Internet in one week after her husband, former President Clinton, challenged donors at the end of February to help her campaign reach that goal.
Overall, Edwards has raised about $1.7 million online since launching his bid for the Democratic nomination at the end of December.
"The more that people become familiar with John and Elizabeth Edwards and who they are as human beings, the more supportive they are of their campaign," said Fred Baron, chief campaign fundraiser.
The first-quarter fundraising deadline is Saturday, with financial reports due April 15.
Elizabeth Edwards was first diagnosed with breast cancer shortly before the end of 2004 presidential campaign. After months of therapy, doctors declared her free of cancer. But last week, the couple said that the cancer has returned to her bone in an incurable form, and vowed to continue Edwards' campaign for the White House.
In an interview with People magazine posted online Wednesday, Elizabeth Edwards said the cancer does not appear to have spread beyond her bone to any organs. Her doctor estimates she has at least 10 years left to live, she said.
"I just need the medicine to catch up to me," Edwards told the magazine. "The medicine is going to catch up to this condition - it's just a question of when."
Ross Baker, a political science professor at Rutgers University, said Edwards' fundraising, in some ways, can be compared to a telethon.
"It's a very touching story, and the same kind of motivation that causes people to reach for their checkbooks," Baker said.
The Edwards campaign is pushing hard to raise as much as possible before the end of the fundraising period. Campaign manager David Bonior sent a message to supporters Wednesday urging voters to donate, saying, "this first test couldn't be more important."