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A Shoo-In For 'Regular Person'

This added attention has brought focus to the important part she plays as candidate's spouse, providing an earthy, off-the-cuff antidote to her husband's stiffer, well-rehearsed style. This was particularly evident in New Hampshire events Monday at Concord High School, at the Stonyfield Farm in Londonderry and finally at the University of New Hampshire in Durham.

At each event, she would introduce her husband in a way that appeared to be unscripted. While Elizabeth tailored her remarks to suit those around her, her husband stayed stoically to his points. He spoke about the need to withdraw U.S. forces from Iraq, about funding elementary and secondary education for millions of kids across the world who have none, about the reduction of greenhouse gases.

"Most of the stories about me end up [saying], 'She's just like a regular person,' " Elizabeth Edwards said. "So my job, to be a regular person, that's really not that tough. If I had some higher standard to meet, I'd be worried about it."

Did she look frail or brittle or somehow scared of all that lay in front of her? No. Dressed unremarkably (a black cardigan sweater, black pants, unheeled shoes), at no point did she look frazzled or even bored. After walking into the terribly hot incubator room during a tour of the Stonyfield yogurt plant, she told the company's president and CEO, Gary Hirshberg, "You'll have to do better than this if you want to make us uncomfortable."

If not uncomfortable, the three-city jaunt proved exhausting--for those following her. It began in the late morning and drew to a close on the UNH campus close to 9 p.m. I was ready to return to a hotel room for "Law & Order" and room service. Sitting behind the makeshift stage in the UNH student union, as a way of asking "How do you plan to do it?," I told Elizabeth Edwards how the day had drained me, a 31-year-old with a head cold.

"You don't have children, right?" she said with little sympathy. "I have a 6-year-old boy who gets up really early, at 7. I have a 25-year-old, and she comes in at 2. I just adjust my life to accommodate both those things and my energy level is such that I can make it through that time."

After a brief pause, she added: "And you're a wimp, I gotta say. Sorry."

I think she was joking.

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