By Jennifer Peter
The Associated Press
BOSTON - Elizabeth Edwards described her husband Wednesday as "the smartest, toughest, sweetest man I know" - a born fighter who has always had the optimism to see the "brighter day ahead."
Sounding familiar themes from the campaign, Edwards chronicled John Edwards' rise from humble beginnings to legal stardom and to the halls of the U.S. Senate, driven by the desire "to make the great opportunities of America available to all Americans."
"He knew there was a brighter day ahead, even as he swept the floors in the cotton mill. He knew if he worked hard enough, he could be the first in his family to go to college. He knew that he could outwork any battalion of lawyers to find justice," she said.
Edwards has called herself an "anti-Barbie," a down-to-earth, 55-year-old mother who left a high-powered law career after the death of her oldest child, Wade, eight years ago.
The Edwards decided to have more children to help themselves and their daughter Cate, 22, through the pain.
Edwards was pregnant with Emma Claire, now 6, during her husband's first run for the U.S. Senate in 1998. She had Jack, 4, when she was 50.
Edwards was introduced by Cate, a recent Princeton graduate.
Like Teresa Heinz Kerry, Edwards spent much of her youth abroad, attending school in Japan, where her father - a decorated Navy pilot - was stationed.
She married John Edwards, her law school sweetheart, in 1977, the weekend after she passed the bar exam.
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