Next up: North Carolina Senator John Edwards. Let’s see who he shakes hands with on his way into the studio. Hmm … same front row people, they must be lucky. Hey, he went for Jane Lynch — love her! I want to know who the African-American woman sitting in the front row is. Also there’s an Asian American woman sitting right off camera behind the stage so that she’s always peeking over the shoulder of the Democratic candidate in the hot seat. There she is again! Who are you, Asian American lesbian?
Melissa asks the first question: She starts off by saying that she and John Edwards’ wife have a lot in common, and I immediately think, "Wait! Is John Edwards’ wife a lesbian?" I mean, I know Mrs. Edwards totally supports gay marriage and all …
But no, it’s a much sadder commonality: Both women have battled breast cancer. Melissa says they also both are able to afford health insurance, and she asks John if he understands the needs of gay and lesbian people who can’t depend on their spouse’s medical benefits because they are not a legal spouse. She asks him what he would do about it.
John Edwards says that those rights should be available to gay and lesbian couples, and they would exist under his universal healthcare plan. Then he quickly goes into a spiel about having been at the L.A. Gay and Lesbian Center where he met a bunch of homeless gay youth. Uh, why aren’t you answering Melissa’s question, John? He goes on and on about his experience at the L.A. Gay and Lesbian Center, saying that he wishes other Americans could have had that experience.
Melissa says she heard that John Edwards was uncomfortable with gay people, and she asks him how he’s feeling now. He laughs and insists that was wrong! Melissa backtracks. Watch the video:
Jonathan asks: "Why should the gay community think that it will be defended by you?" I think Jonathan asks all the hard-hitting questions.
Edwards says he wants to reject the hate-mongering. He gives props to his wife for her outspoken support of the gay community. While he goes on about how bad hate-mongering is, I find myself doing a fashion check-in.
He looks a bit flushed; did he get some sun the other day? Hmm. He’s wearing a black suit too — I guess the blue suit is out if you wanna be the hot politico of the moment. He’s also wearing a blue patterned tie, a bit darker than Obama’s, and somehow it looks a bit less fashionable. His pants are too short. And the cuffs of his shirt definitely do not look as impeccably laundered as Obama’s.
On the other hand, Jonathan Capehart’s suit (and his shiny satin tie) kicks both their asses; plus he’s wearing cufflinks!
Oh wait, John Edwards is dissing Ann Coulter. "I think she demeans everything" about public discourse, he says. Ouch!
Joe Solmonese asks: What is it within your religion that leads you to reject same-sex marriage? Edwards says that he shouldn’t have said that, and the audience claps. He says he was listening to Barack Obama and the discussion earlier, and he says that it makes perfect sense to him that gays and lesbians would think that it stops short of real equality to have civil unions and not marriage. In terms of religion, he says he thinks it’s a mistake to impose his religious beliefs on the American people.
Well, you gotta hand it to John Edwards: That was pretty darn direct.
But Joe pushes him on the question of Edwards’ resistance to gay marriage: "I know that you said you’re on a journey, and I’m curious where and when you might end up on that journey." Everybody laughs, including Edwards. He says the truth is, his position on same-sex marriage has not changed, and he does believe strongly in civil unions.
Edwards gets a minute to wrap up. He thanks everybody and says "You’re so important." I zone out … hate crimes … discrimination … we’re better than this … real change started in "places just like this" (a studio in LA!) … you’re all going to change the country!
He exits down the front of the stage.