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. N Redmond, Cranberry Township P

    Mrs. Edwards should be ashamed of herself. I orginally had planned to vote for her husband but 2 things changed my mind. 1 earlier in the year 2 of his Aids or Campaign works critized and made degrading statments against the Catholic Faith. The problem for me was John Edwards didn't find anything wrong with what the wrote. If they had written about Islam, Judism, etc. I am sure they would have been held accountable, I am tired of different standards for different groups of people. Again Mrs. Edwards should be ashamed the contest is between Clinton & Edwards,not the spouses – or isn't Mr. Edwards man enough to speak for himself.

    September 20, 2007 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  2. Wil Ells - Oroville, CA

    Hillary Clinton has been pushing for universal health care for all Americans since 1992. Get off it, Elizabeth – in-fighting does not help get the republicans out of office – that should be our main effort. I absolutely hate democrats using aggression when arguing with one another. Time to stop. Disagreements do not have to be divisive!!!

    September 20, 2007 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  3. Lee Gross, Irvine, CA

    I admire Mrs. Edwards for her personal battle with cancer; also like her husband. But I'm getting more and more disenchanted with them taking cheap shots and acting petty. He's got more financial and ethical conflicts than most people realize, so he needs to be more concerned about providing answers to problems Americans face as opposed to attacking Hilary. Looks like desperation is setting in. Sad.

    September 20, 2007 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  4. Karen, Richmond, VA

    Who doesn't remember Hillary working for National Health Care as First Lady and getting shot down? Ms. Edwards seems out of control and out of place.

    September 20, 2007 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  5. Christy, Nashville, TN

    Elizabeth Edwards needs to stop fighting her husbands battles and let her husband do it. Last time I checked he was the one running for president. I wouldnt wont the new healthcare plan anyways. THe plan will cost americans millions of dollars.

    September 20, 2007 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  6. Robert, Cleveland, OH

    Yes, Jesse, Burnsville, MN, I do beleive that when woman (or a man for that's matter) should keep mouth shut if you don't have anything meaningful to say! And Mrs Edwards and M s Obama don't except bringing up "stinking" details of their households or trashing their husbandsopponents when their men afraid to do so themself. And I will vote for Hillary so I'm barely a sexist in this company.

    September 20, 2007 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  7. Elizabeth, Elk Grove California

    When will Senator Edwards stop hiding behind his wife's skirt? Let's hear from him for a change.

    September 20, 2007 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  8. Colony 14 author, Mount Prospect, Illinois

    Frankly, I don't care which politician stole another's national health care idea, because they are all unconstitutional (not to mention foolhardy and expensive). Powers not specifically granted to the federal government by the Constitution belong to the individual states. Period. End of argument. (Oh, wait, for the last 150+ years the Constitution has been repeatedly ignored by almost everyone who took the oath office to uphold that document.) Everybody needs health care? So what, everybody needs food, too, but I don’t see anyone suggesting a national food care system. At least not yet...

    September 20, 2007 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  9. Chris, Orlando

    Don't vote for Hillary, I could not take four years of CANKLES.

    September 20, 2007 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  10. Juli McDermott, Rohnert Park, CA

    As a recent Washington Post editorial noted, the Clinton, Edwards and Obama health care plans are more similar than they are different. That's not surprising - they all see the need for certain reforms, yet none of them is liberal enough to go WAY far out on a limb. Hillary's plan actually goes farther than the other two, and shows more concern for the middle class and for small business owners. You can read the brief analysis on the Post web site, under Editorials.

    September 20, 2007 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  11. Holly, Columbus, OH

    Perhaps the Clinton campaign would stop calling Edwards a "flagging campaign" if it didnt appear they were continually attacking Clinton in order to get in the limelight. Their campaign manager must really believe in the adage – Any publicity is good publicity! STOP complaining about conducting an actual race and lead by example. By the way, Isnt there anyone in the Edwards campaign who can advise Elizabeth Edwards how a presidential election works? And advise her on the appropriateness of her comments.

    September 20, 2007 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  12. Dr Atomic

    Let me just say what we're all thinking: does she run these attacks past John first? Is he using his wife as an attack dog instead of saying it himself? Or is she really just that loose a cannon?

    September 20, 2007 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  13. Sean, Houston, TX

    Why is it that on the campaign trail Mr. Clinton can use strong verbage and he appears strong and poised, but when a strong woman uses strong verbage she gets labeled immediately. I am sure those who are making such derogatory comments will be the first in line to complain when their daughters or granddaughters try to make a difference in this world. Still such a double standard. These people who like the Clinton's must not care what garbage gets into the White House.

    September 20, 2007 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  14. Alisha Portland, OR

    Sounds like a case of Sour Grapes...

    September 20, 2007 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  15. Helen, Charlotte, NC

    Using Elizabeth's logic, if Hillary's health care plan was stolen from John, then by the same regard John must also be in bed with the lobbists.

    Elizabeth, John does not have a snowball's chance in he** of being nominated and every time you open your mouth his poll number drops even lower. Get a clue lady.

    September 20, 2007 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  16. Al Robinson

    I do not belivw the edwards at all they are behind so they have to lie.

    September 20, 2007 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  17. William Pappas rockford,mi

    keep this women quiet–her illness does not add importance to her comments–we are not voting for her as a candidate–quit giving free coverage to her stupidity!!

    September 20, 2007 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  18. Maurice, Washington, DC

    Wow, Mrs. Edwards has done it again, she has put her foot in her mouth AGAIN!!!. Stop emasculating your man please. He might actually have a chance but you are quickly eroding his chances. I have watch Hillary's spouse Bill Clinton speak so well of all the democratic candidates and not a dime of criticism.

    Mrs. Edwards, it's ok to support your husband. Pick an issue or issues and support and remind voters of your husbands stance on those issues. That's what Bill Clinton has been doing for Hillary and it's worked well so far.

    Cheap shots Mrs. Edward. Your husband couldn't even win his own state South Carolina when he was the VP for a major ticket. Get over it. Your husband's campaign is over!!!

    September 20, 2007 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  19. Cynthia, New York

    Although I like Elizabeth Edwards a great deal – she is missing the point that Hillary's plan falls short of the "universal" Health Care goal for All US Citizens ......John Conyers Bill HR 676 for Universal Health, Dental, Vision and Prescription Care for ALL US Citizens NOW. Now that is a more profit on the backs of sick people...and US citizens can have health care no matter what. Neither John's nor Hillary's hits the right mark I wouldn't worry who is copying who just yet.

    September 20, 2007 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  20. Betty, Waikoloa, Hawaii

    Elizabeth Edwards is coming off as a continual whiner anymore. When John doesn't want to say something, he sends his wife to whine about it.
    And heaven forbid that John should become the party's nominee because he's such a slick looking prissy boy that he would never stand a chance in the general election. Because I am SO disillusioned, cynical, & distrustful of the Republican party anymore (thanks George) I will probably support a Democrat, but it won't be John Edwards. He can posture all he wants but he still strikes me as a fake plastic talking head, and I just wouldn't have any confidence that he could be a strong knowledgeable leader. Actually, there are a lot of things about John Edwards & George W. Bush that strike me as scarily similar.

    September 20, 2007 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  21. Anonymous

    Has John Edwards lost his tongue or is his wife running for president these days. How bout he speak for his self.
    She isn't all that likable anyway. Sounds like she is taking up for one of her children. Afraid he will get his feelings hurt. Dump her John.

    September 20, 2007 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  22. Bea, Hoboken, NJ

    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.' Posted By E. C., Houston, Texas : September 20, 2007 2:57 pm

    Aha, perhaps you're voting for those bastions of morality Giuliani (married 3 times) or Thompson (married twice). The Republican Party, the party of HYPOCRISY!!!

    September 20, 2007 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  23. Hunter, Albuquerque, NM

    You know, if I was a politician and came up with a healthcare system, and then another politician promised to enact that exact same system if elected to office, I would be happy, because it meant that either way America would benefit from the healthcare system that I want to implement.

    I guess this means that the Edwardses don't REALLY care about getting their healthcare system implemented, and are only using it as leverage for the presidential campaign. That's too bad.

    September 20, 2007 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |

    DANIEL COLE; healthcare is something you earn by working?? i have been working most of my 45 years of life and steadily for the last 10 years AND AM UNINSURED??

    September 20, 2007 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |


    September 20, 2007 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8