September 7th, 2007
09:00 AM ET
11 years ago

Edwards campaign: Clinton lacks 'populist' credentials

Edwards' campaign manager David Bonior said Clinton "failed" at health care reform.

MCCORMICK, South Carolina (CNN) – As John Edwards and Hillary Clinton compete for major union endorsements, the two campaigns are trading barbs over which candidate is more qualified to serve American workers.

David Bonior, the former congressman and labor advocate who is now John Edwards’ campaign manager, told the South Carolina AFL-CIO annual convention Thursday that Edwards has populist credentials that Hillary Clinton lacks.

Speaking to about 60 union members here three days after Edwards picked up national endorsements from the United Mine Workers and the United Steelworkers of America, Bonior said “no presidential candidate in the history of the country” has worked harder than Edwards has for unions and striking workers.

“We’re a populist campaign,” said Bonior, who was the House Democratic whip from Michigan before he left Congress in 2003 after 26 years. “Senator Obama has a populist campaign. Senator Clinton doesn’t have a populist campaign. There’s a difference here. How much change do you want?”

After his speech, Bonior told CNN that Edwards has refused to take money from the insurance and pharmaceutical industries, while Clinton has taken such money. That, said Bonior, makes Edwards more qualified on health care issues than Clinton.

"Senator Clinton is a good woman, but she has decided that she is going to continue taking corporate lobbyist money from the insurance industry, from the pharmaceutical industry,” Bonior said. “It's one of the reasons we haven't had health care reform, why we don't have national health care for everybody in this country. It's because they’ve controlled the system and they’ve blocked it from happening.

“[Edwards] is a populist,” he continued. “He's going to take it on and I believe his positions contrast that to Senator Clinton's. It's pretty obvious. She tried to do that 14 years ago and failed. She hasn’t come up with a health care plan since.”

Clinton spokesman Zac Wright accused the Edwards campaign of going negative.

“Hillary Clinton has the vision for universal health care in America, and she actually has the experience to do it, and no amount of baseless negative attacks can save a lagging campaign,” Wright said.

Bonior has also spoken positively in the past about Clinton’s efforts on labor issues, albeit before Clinton was in elected office.

At a Washington press conference on the minimum wage in 1999, Bonior praised Clinton when she was first lady: “There is nobody who has been
 more committed, more passionate about helping America's working families,” he said.

– CNN South Carolina Producer Peter Hamby

Filed under: Healthcare • Hillary Clinton • John Edwards • South Carolina
soundoff (39 Responses)
  1. Eric, THE Republic of Texas

    ... with "populist" meaning "she's not as fully dedicated and determined to the principle of wealth confiscation and redistribution as I am."

    Uh, I think you're wrong, JE. She's fully on board with your "populism."

    September 7, 2007 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  2. Andrew, Washington DC

    What does that mean? That Hillary isn't socialist enough? I beg to differ.

    September 7, 2007 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  3. Tom - Dedham, Mass

    … with "populist" meaning "she's not as fully dedicated and determined to the principle of wealth confiscation and redistribution as I am."

    Uh, I think you're wrong, JE. She's fully on board with your "populism."

    Posted By Eric, THE Republic of Texas : September 7, 2007 10:37 am

    Funny Eric, where did that posting go?

    Like many postings that speak the truth about Clintons based on not only opinions but actual researched facts, they get deleted by CNN.

    Rants about Republicans and the idiot Bush on the other hand are welcomed.

    Why is it that the 11 Democrats in NJ that were arrested yesterday (including a couple of Mayors) and the RE-CAPTURE of noted "Hillraiser" Norman Hsu have not made it onto the political ticker for discussion?

    Anybody aware that German authorities captured muslim extremists this week that planned some serious 9-11 type attacks on US installations or were they just bit players continuing Bush's "Bumper sticker campaign of fear"?

    That moron Craig sticks his piggies under a bathroom stall and it's page one for over a week in the entire liberal MSM.

    Fair and balanced.

    September 7, 2007 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  4. Chad - Northern Va

    Edwards has the ability to cross political lines. You either like Hillary or not. As a republican I see him as the democrate best chance to win. He is a good man with good ideas. I may consider switching parties for him – we will see-

    September 7, 2007 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  5. Justin, Lawrence, KS

    Those who bash John Edwards before evaluating what he stands for are missing out here. He is more a man of the people than any other candidate running. I am not concerned about the price of hair cuts or lobbyist money. A vision to move our country in a new direction is necessary and John Edwards has the most comprehensive and progressive plan of any. Wake up people.

    September 7, 2007 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  6. RLA Las Vegas, NV

    The populist of this United States today will be long passed away; including as follows; the United Mine Workers and the United Steelworkers of America, corporate lobbyist and their money. Sen. John Edwards, Sen. Hilary Clinton, Sen. Barack Obama.

    Including all current candidates running for office in this most important contest of this past century in 2008; before their visions for universal health care in America becomes reality. Health care for every citizen that has none now in this country is virtually non-existent now and has been in our past, ever since the start of the Regan years. That has been 32 years of rhetoric double talk!
    Would it not be as simple for all the candidates concentrate on the real issues that faces our nation and not continually concentrating on the other candidates?
    The United States general electoral population at large probably does not give much thought and/or could care less about what all the candidates say or think of one another.
    That the electoral populace is more concerned about what he or she believes or thinks on the issues that face this nation of ours. The people are most concern and must believe that this is more noteworthy than personalities of the candidates.
    Let the nations media broadcast exposure of contributions from corporate lobbyist if Sen. Clinton is accepting money in aiding her support as part of this contest for the White House.

    September 7, 2007 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  7. Julie, Atlanta, GA

    John Edwards is a good man and I support him 1000%. America deserves an Edwards administration.

    September 7, 2007 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  8. Johnny Chicago

    I wouldn't even get a haircut from Great Clips. That place is a regular butcher shop. What does that matter anyways, You're all seriously kidding yourselves if you think there is a politician out there that DIDN'T spend 400 bucks on a haircut, cause they're all crooks while we are dying from scandle after scandle. canada is starting to look like my future home. Cause this nation and the "Majority" are going down in flames. Who will restore out country to greatness? Edwards? Clinton? Thompson? Obama. We live in a disgraceful country where everyone, including the already rich leadership is obsessed with fame and money. The two most corrupting values in the world. Congrats Americans, we are a disgusting money grubbing society, preach on about Christianity brotha! What a crock. Oh, Canada!

    September 7, 2007 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  9. Anissa, Maysville, North Carolina

    Edwards is not a commoner as he would have you to believe. Sure he made it from a blue-collar household, but he is a trial lawyer by trade who made millions bilking insurance companies. He would like the struggling middle class to help the less fortunate while he gets $400 haircuts and builds a million plus 6,500 sq. ft. retreat in North Carolina. Gimme a break. He knows nothing about the military or tactics and strategy. He should just shut up.

    September 7, 2007 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  10. Cary Lowell, IN

    to J.B. – I think it was a $400 haircut

    September 7, 2007 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  11. Cary - Lowell, IN

    John Edwards believes the government isn't big enough, that we need to grow the government so that it takes over more and more of our lives every year. And that's because he believes they (the govt) knows what's best for us. He looks down on states having jurisdiction, so that everything can "go through Washington". He's a tax-and-spend Democrat of the old-school variety, who believes the harder you work, the more taxes you should pay.

    September 7, 2007 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  12. David, Encinitas, CA

    The more I hear from Edwards, the more I like him. He's exactly right about Hilary Clinton. America needs change and leaders who have the guts to admit it and do something about it. I don't see Ms. Clinton stepping up.

    September 7, 2007 09:08 pm at 9:08 pm |
  13. Kyu Reisch, Radcliff, Kentucky

    David Bonior, you are dreaming like Obama. Edwards failed his own State's support last election. What are you talking about populist campaign? It is groundless, David. Hillary Clinton started Health Care 14 years ago, none of Candidates even think about it, she told us that she learned a lot so she will make way better Health Care for Americans. Obama and Edwards got the basic from Hillary's health care, they didn't creat form from Zero.

    September 7, 2007 09:18 pm at 9:18 pm |
  14. Wendy

    Both John and Elizabeth Edwards are sour grapes–only know how to attack people.

    Let's vote the victims of Edwards' attacks so we can end the negative campaign. Negativity will not prove you are a better presidet nor a better person.

    September 7, 2007 09:35 pm at 9:35 pm |
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