EXCLUSIVE: Edwards on Character: "Without It, the Ideas Don't Matter."

In June, I interviewed John Edwards in New York, debriefing him on his experience of the 2008 campaign.

I asked him about the cult of authenticity that has taken root in our political culture, and his forceful argument for the importance of character is particularly revealing in light of Edwards' now all-too-public character-deficit.

Rolling Stone: Is the cult of authenticity and character we are so obsessed with at the moment, is that just another way of pushing the issues to the side?

John Edwards: I don't think so.

Q: So it really is that important?

Edwards: It is. Because those two things are a combination, authenticity and character, will tell you how that person will respond in a tough wind. How they will respond when there's great opposition or even great public opinion opposed to what they know is the right thing to do.

You've got to have a president who has strength and character, integrity. Because without it, the ideas don't matter.

I couldn't have said it better myself.