April 21st, 2008
05:37 PM ET
6 years ago

Elizabeth Edwards responds to McCain over 'cheap shot'

(CNN) - Elizabeth Edwards, wife of former Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards, is tangling with John McCain’s campaign again – this time in a war of words with the candidate himself.

In an interview on ABC’s This Week on Sunday, the presumptive Republican nominee told George Stephanopoulos that Elizabeth Edwards had taken a “cheap shot” at him by saying that he had enjoyed government healthcare for his entire life – and that all Americans should be able to choose from the same insurance options available to members of Congress and military personnel.

“It’s a cheap shot but I did have a period of time where I didn’t have very good healthcare, I had it from another government,” said McCain, referring to the years he spent as a prisoner of war. “Look, I know what it’s like not to have healthcare.”

And when laying out his policy disputes with Democrats over the issue, he added, “in all due respect to Elizabeth Edwards.”

Edwards – now a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress –responded Monday in a post on the Wonk Room blog.

“Sen. McCain noted that he was not receiving government health care for the six years he was in captivity. That is true,” she wrote. “But it has nothing to do with my point — which is that the problem with Sen. McCain’s health care plan is not how it affects us –- but how it affects the tens of millions of Americans with preexisting conditions who, unlike Sen. McCain and myself, do not have the resources to pay for quality health care.”

Both McCain and Edwards have suffered from cancer.

“That is not a cheap shot, it is a potentially life and death question for tens of million of Americans. And it is a question Sen. McCain must address.”

Several weeks ago, Edwards and McCain adviser Douglas Holtz-Eakin gave warring interviews over several days on the same topic


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soundoff (183 Responses)
  1. david goldmen for OBAMA

    ACTUALLY ITS MCCAIN THAT LAUNCHED THE CHEAPEST

    SHOT. HOW LONG DOES HE INTEND TO MILK HIS POW

    EXPERIENCE? AS UNFORTUNATE AS IT WAS,IT NO MORE QUALIFIES

    HIM FOR PRESIDENT, THAN AS A BRAIN SURGEON.

    April 21, 2008 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  2. simon

    As the Senate Armed Services Committee, Hillary is an original sponsor of legislation that expanded health benefits to members of the National Guard & Reserves.

    April 21, 2008 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  3. rustedspear

    Obama campaign response was weak....

    If your are listening to me Obama camp... say this

    The true strength of America and the strength that is needed in time of trials, is our principles as a nation.

    We do not need mafia type strong arming. we need a president with good judgement who will protect the constitution, keep the nation united. and pursue relentlessly our true enemies. one who was not and will not be bullied and sucked into making decisions based on party politics and intimidation by special interests...

    April 21, 2008 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  4. Grayson

    Whose out of touch now??? She talks about health care in the context that relates to the majority of the American population and the only way he can relate is with his POW speech?? Does he get the point or is he being sarcastic and demeaning those of us without health care?

    April 21, 2008 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  5. Jed in Texas

    John wasnt a great pilot either, or he never would have become a prisoner,but he did learn how to tell folks what they wanted to hear and let him live.

    April 21, 2008 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  6. Christian

    McCain took the "cheap shot", the point being made is that 64 out of his 70 years of life McCain had government funded health care (dad was in military, he was in military, veteran, then member of congress).
    He thinks we can afford health care but is willing to keep US in Iraq for "100 years." 43 cents out of every dollar our government spends goes to military. We have lost trillions $$$ in Iraq and the situation over there is only worse for the persons living there, I feel no safer here and we have lost over 4,000 of our young men and women. We are the only industrialized country that does not have universal health insurance, and no, we are not taxed more than any other country (try Denmark, Sweden to start with) it is just that we get so little for what we pay in taxes compared to other industrialized countries. We get war and decreasing civil liberties for our tax dollars. Besides war, it cost a lot of our tax dollars for our government to spy on its law abiding citizens, give tax breaks to the wealthiest 1% of our citizens, and bail out big corporations, therefore we don't have any left to cover health care and education. I used to be a fan of McCain, however after the utter failure of Bush, I can not vote for McBush or America will fall like Rome if it isn't almost there already.

    April 21, 2008 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  7. MGC

    You want Military Health benefits, join the Military.....You want Politician Benefits.....get elected.......seems simple to me....SERVE

    April 21, 2008 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  8. joseph

    Bravo Eliza but it's high time u and ur husband endorses Obama so as to end this Bilarry campaign.

    April 21, 2008 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
  9. Melissa Atlanta, GA

    Please Senator McCain – you do NOT know what is is like to be without healthcare. Being a POW makes you a great soldier, but it does not give you any insight on how poor people have to manage every day of their lives without healthcare. You and your millionaire-trust-fund wife have no idea what it is like to have to live and raise children without healthcare.

    Obama or Clinton – anything but McBush – in 08.

    April 21, 2008 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
  10. Anonymous

    My own husband is one of those "tens of millions" without health care in this country. It's horrible that when he gets sick or injured, we just have to hope for the best and wait.

    I'm still not over the fact that Edwards is no longer a candidate. He was exactly what America needs right now, pure and simple.

    I'm voting for Obama here in PA tomorrow, not because I think he's fantastic, but because I think he's the best one left.

    If only Elizabeth Edwards could be our next First Lady. :( The thought that we might instead get Cindy McCain just depresses me.

    April 21, 2008 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
  11. Ed

    Dear Grandpa McCain,

    Yes we all know about your heroic behavior in a prison in Vietnam, and I do admire you for it. That doesn't mean that it would make you suddenly competent to understand the HUGE problem tens of millions of people in this country have in getting decent health care. Our system is a laughing stock among first world countries, yet we persist in listening to the right- and their fear-mongering talk of "the danger of socialized medicine". That means continuing to allow corporate health providers and pharmaceutical companies, with their legions of drug pimps, lobbyists, and connections to congress to continue the ludicrous system we have in place.

    Mr. McCain will hopefully retire from the senate after his current term is done, and go on an extended tour of Arizona and Florida retirement communities, telling his POW stories with a VFW cap on, playing a little shuffleboard, and enjoying Medicare!

    April 21, 2008 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
  12. Phil

    Simpler solution for either candidate. Get rid of the Medicare fraud that exists. Go after the the people that commit that fraud and go after them in earnest.

    April 21, 2008 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
  13. Another young american

    If you think our tax rate is the highest in the world, then you haven't lived in any of the Scandinavian countries. We pay little in taxes compared to some of the other developed countries.

    That being sad, we should get rid of SS. I'm getting sick of old people.

    April 21, 2008 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
  14. Allison R.

    I really hate to be cynical, and I truly respect John McCain (and plan on voting for him if Clinton is the nominee). His service to this country was incredible and priceless. But please stop with the "well, I was a prisoner of war" talk. We know you were. You've built an entire campaign on it. My dad was in Vietnam, my grandfather in WW2, one brother in Desert Storm, one in the current Iraq war, and a borther-in-law on the frontlines in Iraq who lost members of his platoon. But they don't use these things for credibility.
    Please, use it when necessary. It loses its appeal otherwise.

    April 21, 2008 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  15. Natalie in PA

    My own husband is one of those "tens of millions" without health care in this country. It's horrible that when he gets sick or injured, we just have to hope for the best and wait.

    I'm still not over the fact that Edwards is no longer a candidate. He was exactly what America needs right now, pure and simple.

    I'm voting for Obama here in PA tomorrow, not because I think he's fantastic, but because I think he's the best one left.

    If only Elizabeth Edwards could be our next First Lady. :( The thought that we might instead get Cindy McCain just depresses me.

    April 21, 2008 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  16. DAN

    She is right. He's completely out of touch with reality on the health care pollicies. Elizabeth said that Hillary's plan is the best, and I beleive if Hillary win PA you will see a John Edwards endorsement for her and in the process give her the nomination.

    April 21, 2008 06:19 pm at 6:19 pm |
  17. ne, Pennsylvania

    It's a disgrace how McCain milks his POW card!

    April 21, 2008 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  18. Gorbashov, Long Beach, Ca.

    Yes, Mr. McSame we know that you were a POW, and I'm sure we will be hearing about it every day until your defeat in November, but we are all prisoners of this coporatocracy that is supporting you!

    April 21, 2008 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  19. Sam Spiro

    Who cares if McCain was in a prison camp. It was 38 years ago. He completely dodged the issue, which was: why is he so special that he can qualify for government funded health care virtually his entire life, yet somehow when it comes to you and me not having to pay for our own health care, it is somehow a bad thing. The man is a hypocrite and has zero integrity.

    April 21, 2008 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  20. Yol

    Cry me a river McCain – is this what you plan on running on? Come on! Yeah, yeah, yeah... we thank you for all you did for our country blah, blah BUT surely there must be something else.

    Running on your POW time is like BO running on spending his childhood without a father, or HRC running on dealing with Bill and Monica. Come on!

    April 21, 2008 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
  21. Real Change

    I love Elizabeth Edwards.

    Way to keep that old coot busy while Barrack and Hillary settle things.

    April 21, 2008 06:27 pm at 6:27 pm |
  22. mitch from ark.

    go get him elizabeth!

    April 21, 2008 06:29 pm at 6:29 pm |
  23. That's Reality

    Why do people keep calling tax-payer funded healthcare "free" healthcare? It is, in fact, only FREE to those who don't pay for it themselves. It is not FREE for everyone, only FREEloaders.

    John McCain supports war when it is necessary and that 's why we are in Iraq. It is necessary. Well, I guess we could cave and bow to Allah. NOT!

    April 21, 2008 06:29 pm at 6:29 pm |
  24. Peter in CA

    Obama/Edwards 08, but Elizabeth not John

    April 21, 2008 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
  25. Tyler

    Hurry up and endorse someone Edwards, what are you waiting for?

    April 21, 2008 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
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