Democrat John Edwards looks down at his notes as he announces his withdrawal from the presidential race in the Ninth Ward of New Orleans, La., Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2008. Edwards, who originally announced his candidacy in New Orleans, returned to the Hurricane Katrina damaged Ninth Ward to end his race for the presidency. At right, Edward's wife Elizabeth and son Jack (partially visible).
Credit: AP Photo/Alex Brandon
Campaigning Through Adversity
Four months after John Edwards announced, in December 2006, that he was running again for president, his wife Elizabeth learned she had a recurrence of breast cancer, and that it was incurable. At a press conference they called in Chapel Hill, N.C. on March 22, 2007, she discussed the diagnosis, and they announced that they had decided to continue his campaign for the presidency.
Credit: AP Photo/Gerry Broome
It is not the first time that Edwards, 54, has been forced to mix his extraordinarily successful life story -- first in his family to graduate college, lucrative career as a trial lawyer, quick rise in national politics -- with a subtext of extraordinary pain.
Credit: GETTY IMAGES/David McNew
John Edwards was born in Seneca, South Carolina, on June 10, 1953 to Wallace Edwards, a textile mill manager, and "Bobbie" Wade, a letter carrier. The family (his younger sister Kathy is to his left) eventually moved to North Carolina. Edwards was a football star in school (shown here senior year, 1970), but he was unable to get an athletic scholarship in college, and had to leave after one semester.
Credit: AP/Edwards Family
He re-enrolled and became the first in his family to graduate from college. Edwards went on to the University of North Carolina law school, where he met classmate Elizabeth Anania, four years his senior. They married in 1977.
Credit: AP Photo/Edwards Family
A Death In The Family
For almost two decades, Edwards and his wife worked as attorneys, Edwards specializing in medical malpractice and product liability cases. But on April 4, 1996, Edwards' 16-year-old son Wade -- seen here with his father a year earlier on Mount Kilimanjaro -- was swept away by high winds that pushed his Jeep off a highway. Wade's death, Edwards had said, caused him and his wife to re-evaluate their lives.
Credit: AP Photo/Edwards Family
Edwards ran against Republican incumbent Senator Lauch Faircloth, spending $6 million of his own money, mostly on television commercials. He served in the Senate for one term, from 1998 to 2004. Here he appears with other senators in 1999 during the impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton. Edwards voted to acquit, but was praised for his evenhandedness.
Credit: TIM SLOAN/AFP/Getty
Presidential Candidate, 2004
Edwards declared himself a candidate for president and entered the Democratic primaries for the 2004 election. Here, in New Hampshire in January, 2004, he gestured from the window of his campaign bus, which he called the "Real Solutions Express." His stump speech, "Two Americas," talked of a nation divided between haves and have-nots.
Credit: GETTY IMAGES/Shaun Heasley
Democratic Presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., and his newly selected running mate Sen. John Edwards, D-N.C., right, acknowledged the crowd during a campaign rally in Tampa, Fla. Kerry called the rookie senator a man who showed "guts and determination and political skills" in his unsuccessful bid for the party's nomination.
Credit: AP Photo/Gerald Herbert
Experience Vs. Values
Edwards debated Vice President Dick Cheney once during the 2004 campaign. Cheney: "Frankly, senator, you have a record that's not very distinguished...You've missed a lot of key votes." Edwards: "...Millions of people have lost their jobs... Medical costs are up the highest they've ever been... We have this mess in Iraq...Mr. Vice President, I don't think the country can take four more years of this kind of experience."
Credit: AP Photo
The public saw Edwards' family during pivotal moments in the 2004 campaign. Top row, from left, Jack, born in 2000, campaigns for his father in February. Edwards holds daughter Emma Claire, born in 1998, after withdrawing from the presidential contest in March. At the Democratic National Convention in July, with Emma Claire and Catherine, known as Cate, born in 1982. Bottom row from left: At convention; on a trip.
Edwards talks with running mate John Kerry before their concession speeches the day after Election Day 2004. (They reportedly broke off contact shortly afterwards). On the same day, Elizabeth Edwards revealed that she was diagnosed with breast cancer the last week of the campaign.
Credit: AP Photo/Elise Amendola
Focus On The Poor
In 2006, Edwards founded the Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity at the University of North Carolina. He is now campaigning as an advocate for the poor, calling poverty "the cause of my life." Here he shovels with student volunteers in the backyard of a house damaged by Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. With Katrina, Edwards has written, the 37 million Americans who live in poverty suddenly "had a face."
Credit: AP Photo/Charles Dharapak
Presidential Candidate, 2008
When Edwards said he was running again for the presidency, he said it would be different this time, dismissing what he called his initial image -- "young, Southern, dynamic, charismatic, beautiful family, all that" -- and focusing on a populist message. He reached out to young people -- at left at a rally at the University of California Los Angeles; at right at a town hall meeting on poverty at the University of Las Vegas.
In his book "Home," John Edwards collected stories about some 60 people's childhood homes and how they influenced their lives to come. Edwards has also co-written "Four Trials" about some of his successful lawsuits and edited "Ending Poverty in America: How To Restore The American Dream."
Credit: AP Photo/Stephan Savoia
"Strength And Optimism"
John and Elizabeth Edwards appeared on "60 Minutes" to talk about their decision to continue the campaign despite her cancer. "This could kill her, and we know it," Edwards told Katie Couric. "We choose to live our lives fully, and with strength and optimism." His wife has been active in the campaign and is said to be largely responsible for its more aggressive, impassioned tone.
Iraq War Opponent
While in the Senate, Edwards voted to authorize Bush to wage war on Iraq. He has since apologized for his vote. "I believe this war needs to be brought to an end," he said in a debate among Democratic candidates in September 2007. If elected president, he said, he would "immediately" withdraw up to 50,000 troops and continue each month "until all of our combat troops are in fact out of Iraq."
Credit: AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall
Universal Health Care Proponent
Edwards speaks at a health forum while moderator Karen Tumulty of "Time" listens. Edwards has proposed a plan for universal health care and said that if Congress does not pass it by July 2009, he will take away the Congressional health plan. "There is no excuse for politicians in Washington to have health care coverage when America has no health care coverage," he said at a September 2007 debate.
Credit: GETTY IMAGES/Ethan Miller
Edwards talks to Hillary Clinton after a forum held by the NAACP in July 2007. Edwards has aggressively criticized Clinton as an "insider" who continues to accept political donations from Washington lobbyists, and for her stances on Iraq and Iran, calling them variously unclear, insincere, or too in line with Republican policy.
Credit: GETTY IMAGES/Bill Pugliano
Edwards has critics of his own. Some see him as inexperienced and disingenuous, and, as a very rich trial lawyer, an unlikely advocate for the poor. An Associated Press story refers to the three H's: his $1,250 haircut (including the cost of transporting the stylist), his new 28,000-square-foot house, and his consulting work with a hedge fund, all of which may undercut his effort to be seen as a populist.
Credit: Edwards campaign/flickr