World and Nation

Edwards Says Presidential Bid 'Goes On' Despite His Wife's Breast Cancer

John Edwards, the North Carolina Democrat, said Thursday that his wife's cancer had returned, but that his bid for the presidency "goes on strongly."

"The campaign goes on, the campaign goes on strongly," he said, with his wife, Elizabeth, at his side.

Edwards said he learned earlier this week that the cancer had reappeared in his wife's rib cage and that the couple recognized that it was no longer curable, though it could be managed with treatment.

Asked by a reporter whether recurrence of the cancer would cause him to suspend any campaign activities, such as fundraising or travel, Edwards said no. "We know from our previous experience that when this happens you have a choice, you can go cower in the corner and hide, or you can be tough and go out there and stand up for what you believe in," he said.

"Both of us are committed to the cause and we're committed to changing this country that we love so much and we have no intention of cowering in the corner," Edwards said.

He said that after the news conference they would leave together for New York and Boston, and then to California on Friday.

The announcement came a day after Edwards canceled a campaign appearance in Iowa to rush home to join his wife at a visit with doctors who are monitoring her treatment for breast cancer. He attended a fund-raising picnic here Wednesday night.

Mrs. Edwards received her original diagnosis of breast cancer at the end of the 2004 campaign, but deferred a public announcement until after the election results came in. Edwards has said he waited to announce a second bid for the presidency until he and Mrs. Edwards' doctors were confident about her recovery.

Edwards is considered a top contender for the presidency. Although he tends to finish third in national polls behind Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York and Barack Obama of Illinois, he is leading in some early polls in Iowa, which holds the first nominating contests in the nation. Edwards finished second in the Iowa caucuses in 2004, making him an obvious contender for the vice presidential nomination with the eventual nominee, Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts.

This year he has placed special emphasis on winning the Iowa contest. He has visited the state 19 times since early 2005 and has said that he believes winning the caucuses is crucial to his chances of capturing the nomination.

Edwards has staked out a position to the left of most of the other Democratic contenders, invoking populist language and imagery to appeal to working class and middle class Democratic primary voters.

He advocates an immediate withdrawal of 50,000 troops from Iraq and virtually complete disengagement by the end of next year. He has proposed an ambitious and expensive plan for universal health care. He would pay for the $90 billion to $120 billion health care plan by repealing the Bush-sponsored tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans. This week, he announced a plan to combat global warming and reduce dependence on imported oil.