Edwards responded on Saturday with a statement: "Ann Coulter's use of an anti-gay slur yesterday was un-American and indefensible. In America, we strive for equality and embrace diversity. The kind of hateful language she used has no place in political debate or our society at large. I believe it is our moral responsibility to speak out against that kind of bigotry and prejudice every time we encounter it."
The Edwards campaign also responded by trying to fundraise some "Coulter Cash."
Speaking Friday at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference CPAC) in Washington, D.C., Coulter closed her remarks with: ?I was going to have a few comments on the other Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards, but it turns out you have to go into rehab if you use the word ?faggot,? so I -- so kind of an impasse, can?t really talk about Edwards.?
Audience members appeared startled, then many clapped, and she opened the floor to questions. The event was carried on C-SPAN. Many newspapers, including The New York Times, covered the event but failed to mention the Coulter slur at first.
But David Bonior, the former congressman and now Edwards campaign manager, responded in an email to supporters, "This is just a taste of the filth that the right-wing machine is gearing up to throw at us. And now that it's begun, we have a choice: Do we sit back, or do we fight back?
"I say we fight. Help us raise $100,000 in 'Coulter Cash' this week to show every would-be Republican mouthpiece that their bigoted attacks will not intimidate this campaign. I just threw in 100 bucks. Will you join me?
"Coulter's attack was no accident. It happened on national television at one of the year's biggest conservative conferences....If we can raise $100,000 in 'Coulter Cash' this week, we can show that bigotry will only backfire on those who use it."
Democratic Party chief Howard Dean weighed in later: "There is no place in political discourse for this kind of hate-filled and bigoted comments. While Democrats and Republicans may disagree on the issues, we should all be able to agree that this kind of vile rhetoric is out of bounds. The American people want a serious, thoughtful debate of the issues. Republicans -- including the Republican presidential candidates who shared the podium with Ann Coulter today -- should denounce her hateful remarks."
On Saturday, Kevin Madden, a spokesman for Romney said: ?It was an offensive remark. Governor Romney believes all people should be treated with dignity and respect."
?The comments were wildly inappropriate,? said Brian Jones, a spokesman for McCain.
The remarks also drew disapproval from some popular conservative commentators. Ed Morrissey on his Captain's Quarters blog wrote: "Yeah, that's just what CPAC needs -- an association with homophobia. Nice work, Ann."
Michelle Malkin expressed disapproval, and at her Hot Air site regular contributor "Bryan" wrote: "I?m no fan of John Edwards, but that?s just a stupid joke. It?s over the line. The laughter it generated across the room was more than a little annoying. Last year it was 'raghead.' This year it?s calling John Edwards a 'faggot.' Two years in a row, Coulter has finished up an otherwise sharp CPAC routine with an obnoxious slur that liberals will fling at conservatives for years to come. Thanks, Ann."
Vice President Cheney addressed the group on Thursday. Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney appeared before her on Friday. Sen. John McCain skipped the event.
The New York Times' Adam Nagourney failed to mention the crack about Edwards, in observing Saturday in the paper: "The conference drew thousands of attendees, many of whom waited in a long line out the door for a late-afternoon appearance by Ann Coulter, the conservative author and commentator."
Later Saturday he posted a blog item at www.nytimes.com that did discuss the Coulter crack. For Sunday's paper he elicited this reply from Coulter: ?C?mon, it was a joke. I would never insult gays by suggesting that they are like John Edwards. That would be mean.?
The Washington Post covered the conference but did not mention Coulter at all in its news report. Neither did the Associated Press, which also attended. UPI did mention the "faggot" quote in its report.
The Los Angeles Times on Saturday quoted Coulter and even put the controversy in a headline. It closed the article: "A Giuliani spokeswoman said she had not heard the speech, and a Romney spokesman did not return calls late Friday."
The Post's Dana Milbank, in a column for the Saturday paper, observed: "Ann Coulter used an anti-gay slur to describe John Edwards (the line drew applause) and asked: 'Did Al Gore actually swallow Michael Moore?' When a questioner asked Coulter why she praises marriage but broke off so many engagements, she responded by calling the questioner ugly."
Coulter's column is distributed by Universal.
To watch a video clip of Coulter's remarks, click here.