An interview that New York Times reporter Matt Bai did with former Senator John Edwards this weekend as part of a series of public interviews at the CUNY Graduate Center in Manhattan managed to hit on a trifecta of inconvenient personal Edwards storylines: the haircut, the hedge fund and the house.
The clip above is Bai, reading a question submitted via the Internet, from a woman whose son lives in Chapel Hill and has driven by Edwards’ home. “Although I am a supporter,” he read, “I have difficulty in trying to understand the dichotomy between your emphasis on helping the poor and your enormous mansion.”
Edwards said, “Would it be better if people who’ve been successful didn’t care about people who came from the same place that they came from? I mean, would it be better if I just forgot about where I came from? And I have a little trouble understanding it, to be perfectly honest with you.”
Bai also touched on the $400 haircut that showed up on Edwards’ campaign filings, asking, “What were you thinking?”
Edwards said that “other people arranged these things” and that he “wasn’t personally involved in it,” but he added that he should be held responsible for it.
Edwards noted that while the incident did add a new line to his campaign stump speech (“You want to live in an America where you can go from nothing to paying $400 for a haircut.”) it has been a distraction from issues like Iraq, poverty and health care.
Bai used the poverty answer as a segue to ask about Edwards work with Fortress, a hedge fund which invested money in, among other things, the sub-prime mortgage lending industry which collapsed recently, costing many people their homes.
Edwards said that he worked there to learn more about financial markets and, “second, to have a job and make some money.”