Writes George Stephanopoulos:
I've talked to a lot of former Edwards staffers about this. Up until December of 2007, most on Edwards' staff didn't believe rumors about the affair.
But by late December, early January of last year, several people in his inner circle began to think the rumors were true.
Several of them had gotten together and devised a "doomsday" strategy of sorts.
Basically, if it looked like Edwards was going to win the Democratic Party nomination, they were going to sabotage his campaign, several former Edwards' staffers have told me.
They said they were Democrats first, and if it looked like Edwards was going to become the nominee, they were going to bring down the campaign.
This was the first I've heard about a self-sabotage campaign, which would be unprecedented in American history, although not terribly surprising. A few of Edwards's more senior aides were recruited to the 2008 campaign by Elizabeth Edwards, one of which was Joe Trippi, who was always a bit closer to her than he was to him. I haven't talked to Joe about this subject in ages, so I don't know whether he was among those who began to come up with contingency plans.
I do know that plenty of aides were not convinced that the stories were true and therefore did not participate in plans -- if, indeed, there were plans.
I also know that plenty of aides to Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton believed the National Enquirer immediately, and that associates of the Clintons were very aggressive, in particular, about making sure that reporters didn't give up the chase. Whether this was sanctioned by Clinton herself I do not know and tend to doubt, but there was plenty of angst in the Democratic Party from the moment the story broke, and then died, in December of 2007.
In reality, as sexy as sabotage sounds, all these campaign aides would have done is to resign, and tell the world that Edwards, while a great man, was too greatly flawed and did not deserve the nomination.