September 20th, 2007
05:38 PM ET
11 years ago

Clinton ripped off Edwards' health care plan says wife

Watch Mrs. Edwards criticize Clinton's health care plan in an interview with CNN.

COLUMBIA, South Carolina (CNN) - Elizabeth Edwards, the wife of Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards, attacked Sen. Hillary Clinton's health care plan Wednesday as a carbon copy of her husband's plan, and accused the New York Democrat of selling lobbyists insider access to the government.

In an interview with CNN before attending a rally here for protestors on behalf of six African-American students in Jena, Louisiana, Mrs. Edwards accused Clinton of "insider cronyism" and trading political access for campaign donations. This comes on the heels of similar sentiments put forth by her husband in recent weeks.

"You can have a meeting with a member of Congress if you donate to Hillary's campaign," said Mrs. Edwards. "What this is saying is she's willing to sell special access to the government if you just have the check. Isn't that just exactly what John is saying we shouldn't be doing?"

Mrs. Edwards also said that she sees almost no differences between Clinton's health care plan, unveiled Monday in Des Moines, and that of her husband.

"I don't call it Senator Clinton's health care plan," Edwards said. "I call it John Edwards' health care plan as delivered by Hillary Clinton. The truth is that anyone who tries to describe Hillary's health care plan will run through every material part of John's health care plan.

"I just have to wonder, if John released his plan at the beginning of February, what took her seven and a half months to endorse it? We're glad for the endorsement."

Clinton has said she is the best qualified candidate to deal with health care reform because she learned from mistakes made in 1993 and 1994 when, as first lady, she introduced health care reform to Congress. Edwards took issue with that suggestion, saying that the Clinton administration abandoned universal health care in the nineties in favor of passing NAFTA.

"I don't think we should engage in revisionism," said Mrs. Edwards. "I am glad she did that health care plan. I was impressed with her when she did it. But did she learn something from it? I can't see what she's learned."

Mrs. Edwards also struck back at criticisms in recent days from the Clinton campaign that her husband’s White House bid is "flagging."

"Whenever we make a substantive statement with respect to some way in which we think Sen. Clinton is not behaving in the best interest of the American public, not representing the kind of president that we need in the future, the response of that campaign is exactly the same every single time," she said. "They use the words 'flagging campaign' as if you can erase, just erase everything John said. There's no merit to it whatsoever."

Mrs. Edwards also suggested, as she has before, that the presidential race at this point is about celebrity rather than real issues. Her husband trails Clinton and Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, in most national polls, although he remains in first or second place in recent Iowa polls.

"When we quit having the People magazine race and start having the actual race for president, when people are deciding which candidate best represents their aspirations and their expectations for government, that's when John succeeds," Mrs. Edwards said.

The Clinton campaign did not respond to a request for comment on Mrs. Edwards' remarks.

- CNN South Carolina Producer Peter Hamby

soundoff (194 Responses)
  1. Stephanie, Tampa, FL

    Elizabeth Edwards will soon cause the end of her husband's campaign soon. She will spew something that makes no sense, insult someone, or say something out of turn, etc. and it will be the end of the Edwards run for President. She needs to sit back, and focus on her health.

    September 20, 2007 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  2. Henry Miller, Cary, NC

    Seems to me that for Elizabeth Edwards to endorse on her husband's behalf a socialised medicine scheme that's going to cost American taxpayers 110 billion dollars a year (more likely, considering how politicians lie, several times tha) to subsidise the health care of a lot of total strangers who can't be bothered to manage their own affairs, is a truly bad idea.
    Hilary went down in flames in the nineties for her arrogant, screw-the-middle-class, socialism and there's no reason to think people are any more ready to put up with it now.

    September 20, 2007 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  3. janene, portland MI

    Can Mr. Edwards speak for himself?

    September 20, 2007 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  4. Joanne Ciccone, Charlottesville, VA

    Whose running for President, Mrs. Edwards or her husband. She needs to button her lips if there is to be any hope for John Edwards getting anywhere. Hilary has been an advocate for her type of health care for a couple of decades. Don't let Mrs. Edward's illness be a speaking point for the Edward's campaign.

    September 20, 2007 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  5. Catherine. Echo Park, CA

    A: Ideas are hardly ever original.
    B: "Hillary Clinton" and "Health Care Reform" usually end up in the same sentence so it is no surprise she's running on this platform.
    C: Infighting allows for distraction from the big picture – TO GET THE DEMOCRATS BACK IN OFFICE!

    September 20, 2007 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  6. Mary, Beaver, PA

    Daniel Cole, New Bern NC, you took the words right out of my mouth.

    September 20, 2007 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  7. Mary, Beaver, PA

    I wish all of the spouses of all of the candidates would shut up.

    September 20, 2007 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  8. Anne, Highlands, NJ

    Wait a minute, don't we have access to our congress members free? I don't think anyone would be able to "sell" that. Mrs Edwards, no one likes a finger pointer. It's better to rise above with new ideas. My toddler has better manners!

    September 20, 2007 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |


    September 20, 2007 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  10. Stewart Young , Boca, FL


    September 20, 2007 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  11. Greg, Salisbury, NC

    I believe in the Edwards campaign because they have not been soiled with the political process. The Clintons and Obamas are so deep into it that they have no choice but to walk that fine line.

    Mrs. Edwards is doing what I expect. To state her position on the best candidate for the President. It just so happens it is her husband. The fact that she is so overbearing is a fact to be proud of and unfortunately a tactic needed to get the infamous 10 second sound byte from the media.

    I will vote for John Edwards.

    Why...because he is the underdog in a political pitbull fight run by cronyism instead of Michael Vick this time.

    Vote for what is right and fair. Vote for John Edwards.

    September 20, 2007 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  12. Becky, Denver CO

    Wait – which Edwards is running again? Elizabeth seems to keep running her mouth and fighting John's battles for him, making him look like a total wuss. While I'm not so sure that Hilary is the answer, John Edwards is no winner either. He needs to put his pants back on and give Elizabeth back the skirt. Either that, or he needs to step down and let his wife run for Prez.

    Davey Havok for president!!!

    September 20, 2007 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  13. Chris V, NYC, NY

    I am frankly sick to death of Mrs.Edwards and her big mouth. She is certainly no friend of Democrats...and while I used to admire John, I now wonder what the heck is wrong with him that he can't speak on his own behalf. Enough already. He should be smart enough right now, as suggested by another poster, to position himself appropriately at this time.

    September 20, 2007 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  14. Becky, Denver CO

    Wait – which Edwards is running again? Elizabeth seems to keep running her mouth and fighting John's battles for him, making him look like a total wuss. While I'm not so sure that Hilary is the answer, John Edwards is no winner either. He needs to put his pants back on and give Elizabeth back the skirt. Either that, or he needs to step down and let his wife run for Prez.

    Davey Havok for president!!!

    September 20, 2007 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  15. JohnI In Battlegroud Ohio

    Will someone just tell Elizabeth Edwards to shut up? Her husband has absoluetly no chance of winning the White House. Hell, he couldn't even take his home state in 2004. The only chance she will ever see the Lincoln bedroom is by Clinton invitation in 2009. Enough already about a lame duck candidate and his mouthy wife.

    September 20, 2007 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  16. Alison, Washington, DC

    Although I believe Mrs. Edwards has become a bit annoying w/her comments, her points are very valid. Hillary totally bit off Edward's idea.
    Let's remember that Edwards has been speaking about his health care plan CONSISTENTLY for two years now. No one other candidate (republican or democrat) can say thatthat...

    Also, Edwards' being in Jena speaks volumes to his care for social issues. There's so much going on in this country that it's a shame that we as a society focus on O.J. and Britney Spear's failed career.

    September 20, 2007 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  17. Todd from Cambridge, MA

    In response to Hillary's unveiling of her plan on Monday, John Edwards said, "If you're going to negotiate universal health care with the same powerful interests that defeated it before, your proposal isn't a plan, it's a starting point.'"

    So Hillary negotiated with powerful health care interests and ended up with the exact same plan as John Edwards? What does that say about John Edwards' plan?

    September 20, 2007 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  18. Chris, Middletown, CT

    Selling access to goverment officials for campaign contributions – I guess he isn't counting the bar association that contributes to Edwards...I guess he is forgetting the numerous union stops he has made for serious cash...

    Can you believe that a guy would take policy advice from his wife?? (Mrs Mrs Clinton...birds of a feather) – can't wait for all this to be over...and Rudy is in the White House....and the Democrats are complaining that several bus loads of homeless people they registered to vote weren't allowed to...and thats why Hillary lost......waaaaahhh

    September 20, 2007 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  19. CJ

    I applaud Elizabeth Edwards' ability to state fearlessly and unequivocally her support for her husband. She is merely doing what any strong woman who loves her husband and believes in him would do in the same situation. I believe our country may have a slim chance of pulling out of the mess that this administration has got us in if all of you would direct your attention and energy toward insisting that votes in this country be on paper and individually counted in precincts so we do not have even more voters disenfrancised during the 2008 election, closing our borders, sending illegal immigrants home, and enforcing our laws and begin holding people accountable for their actions!

    September 20, 2007 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |

    Mrs. Edwards is so right, Hillary is such a opportunist, she waits till all the other candidates release there plans then she copies it, we cannot trust her, look at the fundraiser she held with the lobbyist the other day.

    September 20, 2007 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  21. perot

    this woman is coming painfully close to having a Ross Perot's 'they ruined my daughter's wedding' moment....

    September 20, 2007 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  22. Jim, Yuma Az

    why sould someone want to take credit for a plan that is not going to work and is going to cost billions of dollars

    September 20, 2007 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  23. Steve

    "The problem with both these plans is that it assumes health care is a right. It is not it is something you earn by working."

    No. It's a right. If Congress and the Prez can have the best health care in the WORLD paid for by us, then so can we.

    You'll see how much of a right it is, when the Dems introduce universal health care right after they win the '08 elections – in Congress and the White House.

    September 20, 2007 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  24. Mary, Oxford, MS

    If she believes Clinton's plan copies her husband's then she and her husband should not be bashing the Clinton's plan. If they agree on how universal health care can be accomplished, then Democrats should be working together against Republicans and others who would make it difficult to get the plan adopted.

    September 20, 2007 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  25. Frankie, New York, NY

    It's Elizabeth's last straw effort to get her husband's name in the papers. She's completely doing her husband a disservice with her combative tone, and shrill-like voice. They clearly don't wear the same sized pants, so why is she trying to wear his..?

    Go Hillary!

    September 20, 2007 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
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