Elizabeth Edwards: Why I called Ann Coulter
In front of a Republican-leaning crowd on Chris Matthew's "Hardball" Tuesday, Ann Coulter received an unexpected phone call from Elizabeth Edwards, wife of presidential candidate John Edwards, asking the "journalist" to raise the level of public discourse in America above personal attacks.
"In the South, when somebody does something that displeases us, we like to ask them politely to stop doing it," said Edwards. "I'd like to ask Ann Coulter too. If she'd like to debate on issues, on positions -- we certainly disagree with nearly everything she said on your show today -- but it's quite another matter for these personal attacks."
The call comes on the heels of a "Good Morning America" appearance yesterday where Coulter was asked about her homophobic cutdown of the former North Carolina Senator a few months ago. "So I've learned my lesson. If I'm going to say anything about John Edwards in the future," she replied. "I'll just wish he had been killed in a terrorist assassination plot."
Although Coulter flippantly agreed to a debate, Edwards kept pushing back. "It did not start with [yesterday]. You had a column a couple years ago which made fun of the moment of Charlie Dean's death and suggested that my husband had a bumper sticker on the back of his car that said, 'ask me about my dead son.' This is not legitimate political dialogue. It debases political dialogue. It draws people away from the process. We can't have a debate about the issues if you're using this type of language."
Coulter later questioned why the presidential candidate didn't phone in himself, to which Elizabeth had a ready answer. "I haven't talked to John about this call. I'm phoning in as a mother," she said to much applause. "I'm the mother of that boy who died. . . These young people behind you are the age of my children. You're asking them to participate in a dialogue that's based on hatefulness and ugliness instead of on the issues and I don't think that's serving them or this country very well."
When given time to respond by Matthews, Coulter railed on Edwards for what she deemed a first amendment violation. "I think we've heard all we need to hear," she says. "The wife of a presidential candidate is asking me to stop speaking. No."
On Wednesday, the Edwards campaign sent out a letter to supporters written by Elizabeth which explained "why I called Ann Coulter."
"Last night I had an important talk with Ann Coulter and I want to tell you what happened," Elizabeth Edwards wrote. "On Monday, Ann announced that instead of using more homophobic slurs to attack John, she will just wish that John had been "killed in a terrorist assassination plot."
The letter continues, "Where I am from, when someone does something that displeases you, you politely ask them to stop. So when I heard Ann was going to be on 'Hardball' last night, I decided to call in and ask her to engage on the issues and stop the personal attacks. I told her these kinds of personal attacks lower our political dialogue at precisely the time when we need to raise it, and set a bad example for our children."
"How did she respond?" Edwards writes. "Sadly, perhaps predictably, with more personal attacks. John's campaign is about the issuesóbut pundits like Ann Coulter are trying to shout him down. If they will not stop, it is up to us cut through the noise."
The following video is from MSNBC's Hardball, broadcast on June 26.