Washington Democrats mourned on Tuesday for Elizabeth Edwards, who died after a long fight with breast cancer.
Edwards, 61, died Tuesday in North Carolina. She was first diagnosed six years ago and became a popular advocate for health care reform. She indicated Monday that her condition had worsened when she wrote in a message to supporters on Facebook, “The days of our lives, for all of us, are numbered.”
President Barack Obama said in a statement that he spoke on the phone with her daughter, Cate Edwards, and her estranged husband, former Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.), who admitted in 2008 to an affair with campaign aide Rielle Hunter.
Obama hailed Elizabeth Edwards’ work on health care reform and said, “Our country has benefited from the voice she gave to the cause of building a society that lifts up all those left behind.”
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid also praised her work. “Elizabeth Edwards devoted her life to fighting for those who needed an advocate, and her presence will be sorely missed,” the Nevada Democrat said in a statement. “She inspired millions with her grace and optimism in the face of personal tragedies, using her own experiences to offer comfort and insight to others.”
Sen. John Kerry called her death “very sad news, and the fact it isn’t a surprise makes it no easier to hear.” The Massachusetts Democrat tapped Sen. Edwards as his vice presidential running mate in his 2004 presidential campaign.
“Elizabeth Edwards was an incredibly loving, giving, and devoted mother, and Teresa and our entire family are grateful for the time we shared getting to know her in 2004,” Kerry said in a statement.
Vice President Joseph Biden said Edwards was “an inspiration to all who knew her and to those who felt they knew her.”
“Elizabeth Edwards fought a brave battle against a terrible, ravaging disease that takes too many lives every day,” he said in a statement. “Jill and I extend our deepest sympathies to the Edwards family as they grieve during this difficult and painful time.”
Sen. Kay Hagan (D-N.C.) said Edwards “faced her battle in the public eye, and I very much admired her strength and courage.”
Edwards penned two books, including the 2009 release “Resilience,” which focused on her battle with cancer and her troubled marriage.
She is survived by former Sen. Edwards, daughters Cate and Emma Claire, and son Jack. Her and Sen. Edwards’ eldest son, Wade, died in a car accident in 1996.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.