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. Mark Schumacher, Lake Ronkonkoma, New York

    PLEASE!! No matter who is endorsing it or whose original plan it is, it is a socialist plan... get off your sofa and stop expecting the government to take care of you...

    September 20, 2007 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  2. Dyinglikeflies, New York, NY

    Mrs. Edwards is clearly counting on the fact that she is undergoing cancer treatments to insulate her from being charged with being an idiot. And Edwards appears to be allowing his wife to say things he wants to say but can't, on the assumption that nobody would dare attack her judgment under the circumstances. The more I see of Edwards, the less I like. Incidentally, the Clinton health plan is not wonderful (for that matter, neither is Hillary Clinton), but her plan is more nuanced in the realities of the political and business environment than what Edwards offers.

    September 20, 2007 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  3. J Murphy

    Geeez, This is getting old. Would someone tell me which Edwards in running??? SPEAK FOR YOURSELF JOHN.

    September 20, 2007 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  4. Susan, Fort Pierce, Florida

    EC from Houston:
    If you want to talk amoral how about all the Republican hypocrites that seem to flock to the Repug party!It is becoming a joke!Craig was just the tip of the iceberg!
    Bill Clinton did moore for the average American than any president since Roosevelt! He is very popular now! His new book "Giving" says it all. Hillary is the same way. Bill and Hillary have more "morality" in thier little fingers than the Bush and Chaney group put together! Fatally flawed indeed! Was it not Carl Rove, of all people, who said that!I would not trust Carl Rove to run a dog kennel! Its the Bush and Cheney gang that should be thrown out!

    September 20, 2007 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  5. Frank, New York, NY

    Reliable sources are saying that the new Edwards plan will be to sue all the hospitals, doctors, and nurses until the system goes bankrupt.

    September 20, 2007 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  6. Jocelyn

    I used to like teh Edwards, now I think they are pathetic sore losers, I can't beleive even they would resort to trash talking.

    September 20, 2007 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  7. Bill Wright, Olean, New York

    I guess Mrs. Edwards was to young to remember Mrs. Clinton's health care plan in 1992. It is the same plan with few changes she is proposing now. Was this Mr. Edwards plan in 1992?

    September 20, 2007 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  8. matt

    Elizabth only hurts her husband by lashing out at his rivals. Makes him look weak and reinforces his Breck Girl image. Bad move.

    September 20, 2007 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  9. Oakland, Ca

    Clinton has been speaking about her plan well before Edwards announced his. She's already fought and lost during previous efforts, meaning that unlike Edwards she probably actually understands the issues. Most plans are fairly similar between candidates for the same party. If anything, Edwards stole it from Clinton.

    To be honest, I've never liked Edwards even in 2004. He's fake, didn't contribute as a senator, was a joke at the VP debates, and is riding on his pretty-boy looks. Quite frankly I'd like someone with a bit of smarts and experience, not someone who cares more about his hair than the country at large.

    September 20, 2007 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  10. John

    You dudes and dudets don't know. Shush it up. John speaks volumes more than his wife. It's just that CNN is behind that Clinton womans campaign and only highlights Johns wife rather than him. So if you are brainwashed and only read CNN, sure you'll think she does all the talking. Foolish sheep. What about you cracker CNN moderator. Will you allow my comment? You commy you.

    September 20, 2007 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  11. Bell Dallas TX

    Hey there Hillaryland,

    why was it okay for Hillary to slam her husband's opponents when she was a political wife?

    September 20, 2007 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  12. Mat, Stillwater Oklahoma

    She needs to shut her mouth. Funny John hasn't spoke of Hilary ripping anything off. Sounds like Liz had ripped off John's manhood since he doesn't have the guts to speak up. Last I seen she wasn't running for office and it doesn't seem like John is either. They are just in there making waves. Pathetic. I used to think he was a good man, now I think he is not even a man at all.

    September 20, 2007 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  13. Jesse Pittsburgh, PA

    absolutely correct Elizabeth Edwards... Hillcare is a copycat version of John's and is much more wasteful than John Edwards proposal. Their are leaders and copiers... hillary is a copier.

    September 20, 2007 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  14. Don, OR

    Would someone just tell Elizabeth to shut up???? She is sounding more and more the bitter, desperate shrew everyday. Her husband is the candidate – is he not man enough take on Hillary directly? I use to like the Edwards but the more I hear from them – especially Elizabeth the sicker I get of them. ENOUGH ALREADY!!!

    September 20, 2007 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  15. nazy, Santa Monica, CA

    What is wrong with Mrs. Edwards, I know she has cancer, but why she is jealous of Mrs. Clinton. At this stage she should pray for her health instead of politic.

    September 20, 2007 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  16. P. Smith, DC

    Remind me, who's running for President again? Is it John Edwards or his wife?

    This has become a patterns for Mr. Edwards. He sends his wife out to attack Sen. Clinton, or to take stances that are closer to the base, while he takes the opposite stance. In that way he straddles both sides of an issue. It's politically convenient, but in my eyes just makes him seem that much more , well, political and hence not someone I want in the white house. I'm not a fan of Sen. Clinton, but at least her positions are clearer than Mr. Edwards.

    September 20, 2007 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  17. Helen, Charlotte NC

    "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."

    Hey Houston, this comment does not surprise me coming from someone in Texas. Quite frankly, that moron up the road in Crawford TX is the disgrace to America and the world. Not only should he leave public life, but he should be tried for war crimes.

    I know, you republicans are terrified because you know that the Clintons will beat any republican that you guys put up. LOL

    September 20, 2007 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  18. Michael Waite, Dallas, TX

    I am so tired of hearing Mrs. Edwards "bellyache" about Hilary Clinton. It seems every other day she is whining about how her Husband is not taken seriously! or she just plain bashes Senator Cliniton!! Well, Mrs. Edwards quit whining about Hilary and start campaigning for your Husband!! You're a strong woman and quite frankly you're upstaging your husband with your tactics when you should be promoting your husband.. Maybe you should be running????

    September 20, 2007 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  19. P. Smith, DC

    Bea From Hoboken,

    "Fatally Flawed Hillary is amoral and will do anything and everything she can to be nominated."

    The same could be said for Senator Edwards. I mean, last time around he ran to the right of Sen. Kerry, and now he is running to the left of everyone except Gravel and Kucinich. He announced his opposition to the war, just as he was preparing to announce a second go at the White House, and changed his stances on other things to cater to the base. Geez. I mean, I know all candidates pander, but Edwards is just Romney.

    September 20, 2007 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  20. Coach Haughoton

    Obama raises cash from the American people with few strings attached, Clinton raises cash from lobbyists seeking insider access, and Edwards raises not so much cash, period.

    Do we think Obama and Edwards are principled and Clinton corrupt? Or do we think Obama (and Edwards?) are idealistic, with Clinton the only one of the three who understands how to play the game to succeed in Washington?

    I don't want a president who doesn't understand how things work, doesn't understand how to get things done. I want my president to be competent, able to broker deals and make things happen. I want him or her to understand how power in Washington works.

    I just wish we had a candidate who had demonstrated political acumen on the national and global stage AND wasn't so dependent on special interest money.

    Posted By David, Dallas Tx : September 20, 2007 1:16 pm
    In response I write. This is an example of the cowardice that is ruining the democratic party. Democrats were elected in large part, to end corruption in Washington. People like this are more driven by the nostalgia of the past than good canditates who we know will to do the right thing.

    Where is the logic in electing corrupt potiticians to end corruption? We want to end lobbying not reward it. I ask my fellow Democrats to grow a backbone, and realize that we DO have canditates who are dirtymoney free AND the genius needed to rebuild our political process. Obama-Edwards.

    September 20, 2007 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  21. Shawna, Pleasant Gap, PA

    I find the Edwards campaign strategy rather ingenious but also insulting. It is clear that while John attempts to look like a good guy that does not sling mud his wife attacks everyone. This is not the first time and I doubt if it will be the last we will hear derogatory comments from her. I find it insulting that they appear to think that the everyday American will not catch on to them. John, if you cannot sling your own mud please allow your wife to run.

    September 20, 2007 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  22. Scott, NY, NY

    What a disgraceful way of behaving. After all this Hillary bashing, what happens when she wins the nomination? Will she campaign for the Dems in defeat after spewing all this jealous bile? She doesn't care about her party or her country–only that her kids get to live in the White House. She can't stomach the fact that she and her husband are cut rate Clintons and are increasingly marginalized in the race. This is how she wants to be remembered?

    September 20, 2007 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  23. Lynn West Bloomfield, Michigan

    Someone give this woman something to do!! PLEASE!!

    September 20, 2007 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  24. Denise, Vancouver Island, Canada

    The nasty, rude, malicious and disorganized way your country handels elections makes me so happy that I am Canadian. But I am your neighbour, so as a good neighbour I have to warn you: your house is on fire.

    September 20, 2007 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  25. Jerry McCoy, Winona Lake, IN

    Right on, Mrs. Edwards. That was the most accurate and revealing interview on the facts of Clinton's campaign and previous record.
    I am praying for an Edward's victory in '08

    September 20, 2007 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
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