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. Steve

    I like her husband, but I'm sick of this rag of a wife.

    Shut the hell up, lady. Attack the Republicans, dummy. Any chance your husband had is disappearing under this cat-clawing stupidity of yours.

    Guts, my butt. This is political suicide. There isn't a single Republican with a health care plan. Attack that.

    September 20, 2007 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  2. Dwayne Fort Lauderdale, FL

    Be a man John...I m sick of your wife being your attack dog....If you have an opinion on Hillary, let me hear from U

    September 20, 2007 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  3. bukky, Baltimore, MD

    John Edwards himself, said that hillarys plan was horrible and didn't do enough about HMO's and actual COST's of health care.

    NOW he is say that this bad idea was his first?

    I like Hillary and I like Edwards (his wife needs to stop acting like the over protective mommy though) either way the health plan sucks because it does nothing baout the BASIC cost.

    Healthcare is not unavailable to me. It is unaffordable, and I'm a 24 yr old, healthy, non-smoking female with a professional degree. MAKE IT COST LESS, MAKE IT COVER EVERYTHING, REQUIRE HMO's to have to go through court to kick sick people of their plan.

    What is the point of a insurance that covers breast cancer but not bone cancer because one cost more to treat than the other.

    September 20, 2007 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  4. John, McLean, VA

    This woman is the biggest detriment to John Edward's campaign. She has made me loose all the interest I once had in this candidate. Someone tell her to take a seat....

    September 20, 2007 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  5. bukky, Baltimore, MD

    This is almost the same plan she released in 1993. Republicans had a field day call her a socialist. How did Hillary steal an Idea from Edward 15yrs ago

    September 20, 2007 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  6. Greg McConeghy, Dallas Texas

    Shouldn't Mr. Edwards be delivering this type of message?

    September 20, 2007 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  7. pl. at the UN for a while.

    I am not American.

    Hm...I posted a different tune above. Yes...I now must agree with most of you. Ms Edwards is talking too many times in her husband's name? You might be right.

    September 20, 2007 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  8. Daniel Zimmerman

    Elizabeth Edwards is a true hero for batting cancer with grace and dignity. Having said that, Sen. Edwards needs to put a clamp on her. Just as Teresa Kerry did in 2004, Mrs. Edwards is quickly becoming a torpedo that has veered out of control and is headed straight towards the Senator's campaign. It makes him look weak for his wife to come up with the jabs at the other candidates while he just stands aside nodding. I really do like Sen. Edwards but as in all campaigns, the voter looks at the candidate AND the family.

    September 20, 2007 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  9. Avi, Brooklyn NY

    Edwards hiding behind his wife's skirt again?

    September 20, 2007 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  10. Joe A. Chapin, SC

    You go girl! We need more folks standing up to the Hill-Bill power move.

    September 20, 2007 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  11. Greg, McLeansboro, IL

    From the people who brought you FEMA, here's your healthcare!!! God help us if this comes to pass. Health care is outrageous but expecting the fed to have the answer is about as much of a pipe dream as world peace.

    September 20, 2007 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  12. Jen, Glenview, IL

    I so enjoy that Edwards uses his wife to attack Clinton. And I so enjoy his wife happily going after Clinton. Way to be a grown up, CANDIDATE Edwards! Way to baby your husband, WIFE Edwards!

    September 20, 2007 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  13. Ron, TX

    I find it amazing that Hillary Clinton's supporters can make sexist remarks towards Mrs. Edwards like "shut up and let your husband do the talking" and then turn around and act like they're supporting some great cause for a strong woman.

    September 20, 2007 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  14. Joe, Florida

    This lady won't shut up, will she. She does the dirty work for her husband so he can still look pretty. He's not looking any better with her speaking like that; real classy!

    September 20, 2007 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |

    I have to wonder who is actually running in this race. Is it Mrs. Edwards or John? It seems to me that she cannot get enough of Hillary and that seems like jealousy. If you don't like Hillary then why is her so called "copy" of the health care plan the same as John's. They obviously have some issues in common. Sit back and be quiet for once.

    September 20, 2007 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  16. Pat Phoenix, AZ

    Mrs. Edwards should be home cleaning house, cooking, and doing laundry. She doesn't have a clue.

    September 20, 2007 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  17. Laurie Scottsdale, AZ

    I'm an independent and a feminist and still haven't decide who I'm supporting for President but I have to say it won't be John Edwards. I ruled him out after reading this latest bit with Elizabeth Edwards. Frankly, it seems like she's being used to criticize all the other candidates by her husband and I've had it. What difference does it make who came up with what idea when??? How childish.

    September 20, 2007 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  18. Paul Randle, Cary NC

    I cant believe I am defending Hillary Clinton, but the tactics of the Edwards campaign are despicable.

    Your wife has cancer, you use it to raise more money as opposed to dropping out of the race and helping her deal with the cancer. Furthermore, you use her as the attack dog of your campaign knowing the other candidates may be hesitant to retaliate against a woman dealing with cancer. This is the epitome of exploitation.

    John Edwards was an unremarkable senator who could not even carry his home state with him on the VP ticket. What makes this pretty boy a good candidate for president?

    September 20, 2007 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  19. Rob New York City

    I like the Edwards, but yeah, the $400.00 did it for me. Hillary is the one!

    September 20, 2007 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  20. Elizabeth, Levittown NY

    This woman needs to stop complaining. She is not helping her husband. Let him be a leader and speak for himself.

    September 20, 2007 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  21. john, cleveland, ohio

    who is up for election John Edwards or his wife? Seems like she's always the one crying wolf.

    September 20, 2007 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  22. E. C., Houston, Texas

    Please........Are you surprised? Fatally Flawed Hillary is amoral and will do anything and everything she can to be nominated. Stealing another's idea? Par for the course. Democrats has better re-assess the grand kudos that have been thrown to Fatally Flawed Hillary. It takes an amoral person to live with another; both Clintons are totally without decent standards or morality as Americans know it. They are BOTH a disgrace to America and should be thrown out of the public eye. If Hillary is the very best that Democrats have to offer, the Party is already LOST and has LOST in 2008. Fatally Flawed Hillary is not qualified to be President because of her amorality and her lack of character. These two quite obvious weaknesses are the reason for her HIGH NEGATIVITY. Hillary doesn't have 'the right stuff.'

    September 20, 2007 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  23. Amanda, Nebraska

    I think it should be John Edwards' responsibility to talk about this issue, not Mrs. Edwards'. After all, he is the one running for President.

    September 20, 2007 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  24. Annoyed in Maryland

    I am FAR from being a Clinton supporter, but I'd take her anyday over John Edwards and his obnoxious wife!! Who is the candidate here... Lizzy or John Boy? Give it a rest woman, everyone is tired of your constant whining. Lord help all of us, Dems and Repubs alike, if we have to listen to her for the next 4 years...

    September 20, 2007 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  25. Aidyn, NY, NY

    I wish Mrs. Edwards will just shut up. Can't Edwards speak for himself??

    Mrs. Edwards you are not the one running.

    September 20, 2007 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
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