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CBS Wonders About Possible John Edwards Comeback

CBS Early Show co-host Maggie Rodriguez wondered on Friday: "Lots of politicians get caught having affairs, as you know. The trick, though, is making a comeback. It's happened before, but the question is does John Edwards have a political future?"

Rodriguez later introduced the segment by citing Edwards' recent comments about his political future in a Washington Post interview: "Newt Gingrich and Bill Clinton, just two of the high profile politicians who've survived the scandal of having an extramarital affair. Now John Edwards is speaking out for the first time, since his affair, about testing the waters for a possible political comeback. But is it too late? Is the damage done?"

In the report that followed, correspondent Nancy Cordes quoted Kenneth Vogel of Politico on the topic: "His cancer-stricken wife knew about the affair, asked him not to run for president. He did anyway. He kept it from his staffers. His political committees may have paid hush money. All of these things put together just make it that much more difficult for him to find a way to rehabilitate himself in the public eye." Cordes responded to that seeming political obituary by declaring: "Not so fast. Lots of politicians, after all, have had affairs and gone on to successful careers. Crisis management experts say Edwards may be testing the waters and could still have a political future."

What Cordes failed to mention was the fact that since the scandal broke, Edwards has turned his back on a number of charitable causes that he once championed. Writing for Newsweek's 'The Gaggle' blog, Holly Bailey pointed out: "Edwards has stopped helping a lot of the people he trotted out when he was running for president. That program he set up to pay for the first year of college tuition for students at a high school in North Carolina? Over. Edwards also pledged to help several families in New Orleans whose homes were in foreclosure but that assistance has dried up." Abandoning the very people he claimed to be fighting for during his presidential bid hardly seems to be a good strategy for making a political comeback.

Cordes went on to cite crisis management expert Gene Grabowski, who said of Edwards' affair: "It will never be forgotten, but it can be forgiven." Cordes then suggested a possible first step toward rehabilitation: "More than anything, he [Grabowski] says, Edwards needs time and to make a high profile apology, maybe on Oprah, where his wife recently discussed the affair he had with Rielle Hunter."

Here is the full transcript of the Friday Early Show segment:

7:01AM TEASE:

MAGGIE RODRIGUEZ: Also ahead this morning, lots of politicians get caught having affairs, as you know. The trick, though, is making a comeback. It's happened before, but the question is does John Edwards have a political future? This morning we're going to talk about it because he has spoken out about it for the first time.

7:12AM TEASE:

CHRIS WRAGGE: Coming up next, John Edwards' fall from grace. Does he have a political future, or is it dead in the water?

7:15AM SEGMENT:

MAGGIE RODRIGUEZ: Newt Gingrich and Bill Clinton, just two of the high profile politicians who've survived the scandal of having an extramarital affair. Now John Edwards is speaking out for the first time, since his affair, about testing the waters for a possible political comeback. But is it too late? Is the damage done? CBS News correspondent Nancy Cordes reports.

NANCY CORDES: John Edwards is hardly the first public figure to face a sex scandal.

BILL CLINTON: I did not have sexual relations with that woman.

JOHN ENSIGN: Absolutely the worst thing that I've ever done in my life.

CORDES: But in Edwards' case, it's more than just an affair.

KENNETH VOGEL [SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER, POLITICO.COM]: His cancer-stricken wife knew about the affair, asked him not to run for president. He did anyway. He kept it from his staffers. His political committees may have paid hush money. All of these things put together just make it that much more difficult for him to find a way to rehabilitate himself in the public eye.

CORDES: Not so fast. Lots of politicians, after all, have had affairs and gone on to successful careers. Crisis management experts say Edwards may be testing the waters and could still have a political future.

GENE GRABOWSKI [SENIOR VP, LEVICK STRATEGIC COMMUNICATIONS]: It will never be forgotten, but it can be forgiven.

CORDES: More than anything, he says, Edwards needs time and to make a high profile apology, maybe on Oprah, where his wife recently discussed the affair he had with Rielle Hunter.

OPRAH WINFREY: Did you believe it was the only time ever?

ELIZABETH EDWARDS: Yeah, I mean, I believe that. I want to believe that.

CORDES: For now it seems not even Edwards knows what to expect. He told the Post, quote, 'sometimes you just keep your head down and work hard and see what happens.' Nancy Cordes, CBS News, Washington.

-Kyle Drennen is a news analyst at the Media Research Center.