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John Edwards to speak tonight at IU Auditorium

Former VP candidate hasn’t been in public since disclosing affair

POSTED AT 12:21 AM ON Nov. 11, 2008 

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Former Democratic vice-presidential nominee John Edwards will break almost three months of public silence when he speaks at 7 p.m. today at the IU Auditorium.

Edwards admitted in August to having an extramarital affair with a campaign staff member while his wife battled cancer in 2006 and canceled all speaking events until after the election.

Edwards’ speech, titled “The Land of Opportunity,” comes one week after Barack Obama won the presidential election. Union Board lectures director Andrew Dahlen said the former North Carolina senator will give his reaction to the election and brings a unique perspective to the race.

“I think it’s a tremendous opportunity for students and the community, especially in such a tumultuous time,” he said.

Dahlen said he expects Edwards to talk about the future of the country and hit upon key points in his platform as a senator.

Edwards will speak for 45 minutes, which includes a 15-minute question-and-answer session, Dahlen said. Audience members will have a chance to write down questions, some of which will be asked, Dahlen said.

Dahlen said the Union Board decided to not allow open-ended questions from the audience, but rather use written questions. He said it had little to do with protecting unwanted questions about Edwards’ affair.

“It was mainly just insuring a different topic of questions can be brought up so not everyone’s asking about his stance on education or something like that,” Dahlen said.

But the Union Boards’ decision to bring Edwards to speak – which cost $35,000 – has garnered criticism on whether it is appropriate to pay someone to speak who recently admitted his extramarital affair. The Union Board knocked off $15,000 from the proposal after Edwards admitted to his affair in August.

Justin Hill, former chairman of Students for John McCain, said he prefers a speaker who is more involved in the presidential campaigns.

“He campaigned as one person, and he turned out to be someone else,” Hill said. “I personally would prefer to hear from someone like a campaign manager who is really in the nitty-gritty and in the grind of the process.”

Still, Dahlen said he believes people will see past Edwards’ mistake and will recognize the unique perspective he can bring to the race.

“The perspective is really unrivaled,” Dahlen said, “as far as individuals that could comment on the presidential election, and I think students recognize that.”

 

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