Go on Oprah: "This whole notion of whether you're damaged goods or not has really
changed in the last four or five years," said Peter Mirijanian of Mirijanian PR. " The public used to count people
out and you wouldn't hear from them again. That's not the case anymore.
There are so many ways to rehabilitate yourself ... The American public
likes a feel-good story, they like a story of redemption." Five years
ago, the well-trod path was to go on Larry King; today, it begins on
Oprah. Edwards has "got to do the one interview. And I think it has to
be a visual medium. I don't think the full-page story in the New York
Times cuts it."
Do Good: "This sounds so cheesy, but find your personal journey," said Steven Rubenstein of Rubenstein Communications. "Try to do
something good and not focus on your public profile, and then if the
opportunity to do something public presents itself, consider it then
... If all you're thinking about is your return, I don't think you're
going to get there. You're trying to cure the symptom, not the
Drop Off the Map: Earlier in the career of Jonathan L. Bernstein of Bernstein Crisis Management, he was approached by people representing
the recently deposed Philippines President Ferdinand Marcos. "If
anybody approached me on behalf of Edwards, I'd tell them the same
thing I told Marcos' people: 'I don't think there's anything I can do
for you right now.' That said, I think if he can drop under the public
radar for a period of some years, get involved in some charitable
do-gooding activities, and not do anything else that he could be
criticized for, ultimately he could rehabilitate himself. Bill Clinton
Give Something Back: "I think there's an awful lot of good John can do," said consultant Tad Devine of Devine Mulvey, who worked on Edwards' 1998 Senate campaign. "He's gifted,
he's got a lot of talent and passion. I think the best possible thing
he could do would be to give back to people -- give his time, his
expertise. At the center of his presidential campaigns was to do
something about the pervasive poverty in America. The way to do that
would be to build on what he's already done and try to find some things
that would work in the real world and to go out and fund them. And then
on the basis of that good work, redeem himself."
Give Up: "Can he start a charity or do something in academia? Of course, but
this guy didn't tell lies, he was lies," said Eric Dezenhall of Dezenhall Resources.
"And I think in the political
sphere, outside of maybe years from now doing something on the local
level, he's done. I've never seen anything quite like this ... In
almost 30 years of doing this, I have never been in a client situation
where there was a quixotic and completely immoral and pre-meditated
program to lie about virtually everything all the time."
Focus on Fatherhood: Edwards has “an opportunity to come across as an outstanding and doting father in a way that most other men who stray don’t. And I do believe the American people like and respect people who are good parents,” said David Heller, president of Main Street Communications.
Outlast Your Ex: One prominent PR consultant voiced what others were too polite to say
(but only, of course, on the condition of anonymity): John Edwards will have a hard time venturing back into the public eye as long as his wife is present to remind Americans of the scope of his betrayal. "I honestly don't believe he can make a true comeback until well after Elizabeth has
passed away," the consultant said. "As long as she is alive, his comeback chances are dead."