Sen. Hillary Clinton would be the Democratic presidential nominee if John Edwards had been caught in his lie about an extramarital affair and forced out of the race last year, insists a top Clinton campaign aide, making a charge that could exacerbate previously existing tensions between the camps of Clinton and Sen. Barack Obama.
"I believe we would have won Iowa, and Clinton today would therefore have been the nominee," former Clinton Communications Director Howard Wolfson told ABCNews.com.
Clinton finished third in the Iowa caucuses barely behind Edwards in second place and Obama in first. The momentum of the insurgent Obama campaign beating two better-known candidates -- not to mention an African-American winning in such an overwhelmingly white state -- changed the dynamics of the race forever.
Obama won 37.6 per cent of the vote. Edwards won 29.7 per cent and Clinton won 29.5 per cent, according to results posted by the Iowa Democratic Party.
"Our voters and Edwards' voters were the same people," Wolfson said the Clinton polls showed. "They were older, pro-union. Not all, but maybe two-thirds of them would have been for us and we would have barely beaten Obama."
Two months earlier, Edwards had vociferously, but falsely, denied a story in the National Enquirer about the alleged affair last October, and few in the mainstream media even reported the denial.