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. Tiffany Charlotte, NC

    Elizabeth Edwards is wrong if she remember correctly Senator Clinton was pushing for this in 1994 while her husband was in office. Also if her husband was so eager about offering health care how come he hasn’t did anything in the state of North Carolina to make it easier for individuals to have insurance. Hilary Clinton started the Child Health Care in the state of New York. Its funny how people always have negative things to say about Hilary but she is a person of action. This is a subject that has been with her for many years.

    September 20, 2007 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  2. Bob, New York, NY

    Mrs Edwards forgot to mention that her husband had just taken an old copy of Mrs Clintons health care plan and put his name on the cover.

    Either way both plans are crap

    September 20, 2007 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  3. Rodney Dallas TX

    Althought I have no intension of voting for Edwards, this woman needs to shut up before she costs her husband more votes. You know the stereotypical "nagging" wife? She fits that profile.

    September 20, 2007 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  4. dana clermont fl

    why would anybody believe the goverment can health care i really dont want the goverment to take care of me i pefer to run my own affairs if i wanted hilery care or edwards care i would move to another country

    September 20, 2007 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  5. Tonya

    Mrs. Edwards strikes me as a very angry person.
    I noticed this during her husband's vice-presidential campaign when she was very catty about John Kerry.
    It seems to be worse now. She no longer speaks, she only "attacks", "blasts" and "ripping into", etc.
    Mrs. Edwards should catch her breath and control her anger.
    Perhaps then I could hear what John Edwards is saying.

    September 20, 2007 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  6. Bob Lafferty, Tulsa, OK

    Here the Edward campaign is missing an opportunity to hit important issues is how to end the war, or why republicans are not talking about universal heath care! On other camp -Guliani, Romney, McCain and their supporting media is all busy attacking Hillary as to why she has not condemned the moveon ad. Its a clear indication that those who are attacking Hillary on irrelevant things, are SCARED!

    September 20, 2007 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  7. b. Miller Rochester, ny

    How can anyone vote for a guy that sends his wife out to do his dirty work.

    Elizabeth shut up. You'r not on the ballot.

    September 20, 2007 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  8. Diantha Bend, Oregon

    Wasn't it just a few short months ago that Mr. and Mrs. Edwards announced that Elizabeth had terminal cancer? Possibly only 5 years left to live? Don't they have two young children? Call me crazy, but when those two young children are adults, will they happily remember that their mother was out campaigning for dad in her last years instead of spending quality time with them? Every time I see the Edwards campaigning for president, I just think something is wrong with this picture. Who cares about the Clinton's, I'd want to know what's going on with my kids at school...

    September 20, 2007 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  9. Kathy Nashville, TN

    Does John Edwards ever speak for himself? His wife confronted Ann Coulter, his wife said that Obama and Clinton only got press attention because they were a minority and a woman, now his wife attacks the Clinton health plan.

    Sen. Edwards needs a spine.

    September 20, 2007 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  10. Charley Butcher

    How about worrying about the people of the United States instead of who gets freaking credit for something. If they believe in the plan and it gets implemented then who cares, arent they supposed to be working for us?

    September 20, 2007 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  11. Robert, Madison, WI

    I don't get it. So now politicians aren't allowed to agree on platforms anymore? Shouldn't we all be looking for the best solution?

    September 20, 2007 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  12. A. Thomas, New York, NY

    Elizabeth Edwards is naive and rediculous.

    The health care plan was the cause and passion for lots of time for Hillary while she was the first lady in the 1990's. At that time, JOhn Edwards was a nobody.

    Elizabeth is getting more desperate and angry as she sees her husband is sinking fast in polls. She should learn to shut up to let him do the talking.

    September 20, 2007 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  13. Susanne, Charlotte NC

    Mr. Edwards had no problem using the "good ol' boys network" to create a phony position for himself at UNC! Doesn't the rest of the country wonder why his home state has abandoned him? How can our former AWOL senator be taken seriously?

    September 20, 2007 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  14. Marjorie Yamaoka, Torrance, CA

    I am so sick of that woman's mouth (Mrs. Edwards). And because she has cancer, any political opponent making a response to one of her comments is picking on a sick woman!!! Give me a break.

    John Edwards is the last person I would want in the White House. But then I suppose half the attention of the President is better than the non-attention of the current administration.

    September 20, 2007 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |


    September 20, 2007 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  16. Wendy

    To all union members: Do you really want to support a person whose wife often make remarks in front of the world embarrassing Americans?

    September 20, 2007 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  17. Derek,Aberdeen,WA

    Elizabeth Edwards needs to shut up and go away. Every time she opens her mouth, ten less people are interested in John. If Elizabeth feels so strongly about so many things, why doesn't SHE run for president? And as far as the health plan is concerned, who cares whose plan it is, so long as some plan is adopted sometime.

    September 20, 2007 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  18. karen, new york, ny

    I am so sick of hearing Elizabeth Edwards on the attack. She is adding to the lowering of the discourse in this country.

    September 20, 2007 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  19. Michael, Boston, MA

    Elizabeth Edwards is starting to lose it all together. Hillary Clinton has been working to improve healh care since Bill was first elected. She developed and tried to get her plans enacted for years. It was the US Congress that made it impossible then and they will do the same this time whether its Clinton's or Edwards' bill.

    Congress is owned by lobbyists. Clinton has learned by now that
    working with the health care industry instead of against them is the only way it will ever happen no matter who's ideas are being considered.

    She doesn't need to steal from Edwards or anyone else. If the plans from Clinton or Edwards or Romney look alike maybe its because its the best solution and one that at least gets its started.

    Developing a national health care system won't happen overnight and won't be all it should be with the first program enacted. But we have to start somewhere.

    I say we start by electing Hillay and supporting her efforts... and take a good look at who tries to stop it and why.

    $110 billion dollors... we've spent a lot more than that on a war thats killed almost 4000 american kids. Maybe we can spend some on saving some peoples lives as well.

    September 20, 2007 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  20. Mason Myatt, Birmingham, AL

    Mrs. Edwards is a smart, insightful and brave woman. She would be a great asset to her husband and our nation should he become president. If Edwards gets the nomination I will vote for him with gusto and look forward to the benefits of her talents as she serves with her husband.

    However, the Edwards family are taking their eyes off the ball-or rather, off the Bush. Hillary is not the enemy, she is an opponent–a viable candidate for the presidency and while policy disputes are fine, perhaps productive, the on-going litany of personal attacks have little effect on Senator Clinton's campaign and they harm the Democratic cause to the extent that character attacks feed the Republican fear machine.

    Hillary has been fighting on behalf children and adults without adequate insurance for decades. She does not need ideas from former Senator Edwards and the progressives in America do not need to watch the Democrats lose yet another election that should be a "slam dunk."

    Mrs. Edwards is unassailable as the brave wife and Mother in a battle for her life against recurrent breast cancer. I cannot know what she is going through and will not pretend to. That said, I hope she will not consciously or unconsciously play on her unique situation to attack a candidate who, in almost any other scenario, would be a natural ally.

    During a week when Bush is announcing a veto of the bipartisan bill extending health benefits to millions of the destitute children that are at the heart of the Edwards campaign, Elizabeth would do well to regain her focus and stop the personal attacks that blur the battle lines and give succor to the Republican disease devouring our nation.

    September 20, 2007 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  21. GP, Texas

    Elizabeth Edwards acts more like John's mother than his wife. Clinton has been working on health care plan since her husband was in office. All we ever heare from Mrs. Edwards is whining. I admire her for her battle with cancer, but give the political whining a break.

    September 20, 2007 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  22. Ames Tiedeman, Austin, TEXAS

    WAR! I love it...Let them all implode in their anger for one another!

    September 20, 2007 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  23. Buggie, San Diego, CA

    Poor little John…
    First Edison beat him to the patent office with the light bulb, and now this. How much more can one little man take? I guess it is time to put on your big boy undies and be a brave little soldier!

    September 20, 2007 07:02 pm at 7:02 pm |
  24. laurinda,shokan,ny

    If I were her, I would be more concerned about saving my money on my husband's $400 haircuts that he is paying the groomer who in turn is probably donating to Hillary so they can have a meeting with a member of congress.

    September 20, 2007 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  25. Cynthia Grady, Arlington, MA

    I have to say I'm getting very sick of both John and Elizabeth Edwards. I agree with a lot of their policies but they have become so personally unappealing. Elizabeth Edwards is constantly attacking Hillary Clinton in really ugly and personal ways. I don't understand the need for that and I see a lot of misogynism in it. She may think her husband's the best man for the job but why does she feel the need to demonize Hillary Clinton to make her point? It also makes John look a little pathetic that he can't make his own comments on these matters. It's seems the Edwards's strategized that having Elizabeth attack Hillary makes it more palatable to female voters. WRONG!! It's become very unappealing. They should stick to pushing their own ideas and platforms, not making personal slams against two very worthy opponents. I have not yet decide if I'm supporting Clinton or Obama but I've now ruled out Edwards. Oh, and note to the Edwards, the whole preaching to America about giving up their SUVs while you live the lifestyle you do and reside in the utra-mansion that you own has become really tiresome.

    September 20, 2007 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
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