Edwin Edwards is known for his colorful quotes.
The former Democratic Louisiana governor, congressman and convicted felon once said they made Viagra from his blood. Another time he declared, “the only way I can lose this race is to be caught in bed with a live boy or a dead girl.”
But Edwards is also a political master, who, in the words of another former Louisiana Gov. Buddy Roemer (the only person to every beat Edwards in an election), “can charm the socks off a rooster.” And the day after Edwards announced a bid for Congress, that charm is on, and, for now at least, talk of Viagra and being a “wizard under the sheets” is off.
“Look, I’m a very difficult person to understand,” Edwards told The Daily Caller in a phone interview Tuesday.
“I’m 86 years old, I’ve got a 35 year old wife that I married when she was 33, I have four children that are over 55 years old, one of them is 64, and I have a baby that’s 7 months old as I talk to you,” he continued. “That is very unusual and difficult for people to understand.”
Perhaps more difficult for people to understand is why an octogenarian, just three years out from an eight year stint in prison, would want to get back in the ring and run for the open congressional seat in Louisiana’s 6th District. The answer is simple: Edwards has got the bug.
“It’s my life, it’s in my life’s blood, it’s what turns me on, what makes me get up in the morning happy to be alive, and what makes me happy,” he says of why he wants to run at his age.
And the retirement that a lot of people might take at his age, Edwards said, is not for him.
“One of the reasons I’m running is cause I don’t want to be bored. I live in a golfing community. I’ve been here for three years, I’ve played golf one time, even though I like the game,” Edwards says. “’Cause you know, I just like being involved in political affairs.”
Edwards’ age comes up several times during our interview. Two of his (much younger) opponents have already started jabbing him over it. Republican Paul Dietzel III tweeted, “My focus is the future, not the politics of the past,” with the hashtag #NextGeneration after Edwards’ announcement. Another Republican contender, Garrett Graves, told WVUE New Orleans that he respected Edwards “as an elder.”
Edwards is clearly prepared for the jibes, and he brushes them off.
“Look, age is not a factor,” he says. “If this was a foot race, they’d probably all beat me. But this is a political race, and you can look for a different outcome.” Besides, he notes, he has good genes — his mother lived to 96 and his father lived to 100.
“If you look at me, I’m the new 60, even though I’m 86.”
The demographics of the district do not favor a Democrat, and Edwards is aware of that, but says he can overcome it.
“Well, all politicians are optimists, you know,” he laughs.
“If you look at just raw numbers that’s probably an accurate assessment. However, I can tell you that I have a lot of Republican friends who will vote for me; they are kind enough and smart enough to vote for the person who can best do the job, and they disregard the labels,” he said.
One of those Republicans is his wife, Trina, and Edwards points to their marriage as “symbolical” of the how Republicans and Democrats might be able to accommodate themselves to one another and vote for Edwards.