July 18th, 2007
10:23 AM ET
10 years ago

Elizabeth Edwards offers sharp critique of Hillary

Elizabeth and John Edwards made a stop in New Orleans Monday.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Elizabeth Edwards sought to punch holes in the notion that New York Sen. Hillary Clinton is the women’s candidate in the 2008 race for the White House. For Edwards, that title falls to her husband, former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards, who is competing against Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination.

“She’s just not as vocal a women’s advocate as I want to see,” Elizabeth Edwards said in a wide ranging interview with the online magazine, Salon. “John is.”

Edwards particularly offered a sharp assessment of Clinton’s approach to providing healthcare to everyone.

“On the issues that are important to women, she has not ... well, healthcare, that's enormously important to women, all the polls say, and what she says now is, we're going to have a national conversation about healthcare,” Edwards said in the Salon interview. “And then she describes some cost-saving things, which John also supports, but she acts like that's going to make healthcare affordable to everyone. And she knows it won't. She's not really talking about poverty, when the face of poverty is a woman's face, often a single mother.”

A Clinton spokesman declined to comment on Edwards’ remarks, while a spokesman for the Edwards presidential campaign would not speak directly about the Clinton comments other than to say Elizabeth Edwards was only talking up her husband's ability to offer solutions.

"What she did say is that she believes her husband is the best candidate for president,” the spokesman tells CNN. “And she thinks that her husband would be the best advocate on healthcare, on education, on women's issues and the fight to end poverty."

Elizabeth Edwards also spoke about her recent confrontation with conservative commentator Ann Coulter, the split with her husband on the issue of gay marriage and how she is handling her cancer treatments while campaigning on behalf of her husband.

Edwards announced earlier in the year that her bout with breast cancer had returned in a stronger form, but continues to take a highly visible role on the campaign trail this year.

TIME.com: Can Poverty Define John Edwards?

- CNN's Alexander Mooney contributed to this report

soundoff (72 Responses)
  1. Brad, Columbia, SC

    Too often we confuse "attack" with "difference of opinion."

    Comparing Max Cleland with Bin Laden is an attack. Suggesting John Edwards is a "fag" is an attack. But endorsing your husband's positions over another candidate's is not an attack... it's called campaigning.

    Let's not be the boy who cried wolf here. Let's save our outrage over "attacks" for the real cases where someone needs to be called out for such irresponsibility.

    July 17, 2007 10:17 pm at 10:17 pm |
  2. James Gilson Valley, AL 36854

    If John Edwards want to win or place in the elections, he has to come off the poverty kick. It will not work. He needs to get with the issues. Work on immigration reform, Medicare, etc.
    Don't feed me more of this two America stuff.

    July 17, 2007 10:24 pm at 10:24 pm |
  3. C - Seattle, WA

    Anyone know how Edwards made all his money? Mal practice lawyer. His wife needs to pick her battles a little more carefully. John Edwards has done little to fix healthcare in this country, so far he has only hurt the system and make millions for himself.

    July 17, 2007 10:40 pm at 10:40 pm |
  4. Chris G, Fort Worth, Texas

    Read THE CLINTON CRACK-UP and you'll never, ever vote for ANYONE with the last name of Clinton.

    July 17, 2007 10:52 pm at 10:52 pm |
  5. Barbara Childers, Balsam, North Carolina

    I admire and will fully support John Edwards...his wife is the true meaning of a southern belle...she is a true lady in every since of the word...
    Blessing to the entire Edwards family

    July 17, 2007 10:58 pm at 10:58 pm |
  6. Mark from Harbor City, CA

    Mrs. Edwards knocking Hillary is an example of the desperation of John Edwards campaign. He is un-trustworthy millionaire lawyer who earned his money off the backs of taxpayers. The Clintons have dedicated their LIVES to politics and making things better. In fact the ego-centric Edwards have just caused me to reach into my wallet...to donate to Team Hillary!!! At least she has the courage, dedication, conviction to FIGHT for this country. Edwards is just looking to further legal loopholes for his millionaire lawyer geezers... He will NEVER be President!

    July 17, 2007 11:31 pm at 11:31 pm |
  7. Jay, Tampa Florida

    I agree with Liz, I think John truly is the best woman candidate.

    July 17, 2007 11:40 pm at 11:40 pm |
  8. Mrs. America

    Mrs. Edwards should be careful how she talks. Her opinions could affect who runs as veep with Sen. Clinton.

    July 17, 2007 11:59 pm at 11:59 pm |
  9. wsblount, NY, NY

    She is absolutely correct.

    July 18, 2007 12:04 am at 12:04 am |
  10. tonyd grapevine, texas

    Elizabeth Edwards sure does a lot of talking for her husband, but can he walk the walk? At lease he's not lying by opening his mouth. Oh yeah, how does she justify his $400 haircuts?

    July 18, 2007 12:22 am at 12:22 am |
  11. Leah

    Too bad Elizabeth Edwards has cancer as it sounds like she's a better candidate than her husband or Hillary.

    July 18, 2007 12:22 am at 12:22 am |
  12. Glenda, McEwen, TN

    I don't believe Mrs. Edwards just helped her husband's campaign. He is running for President, and she needs to be campaigning for him yes. But we can do without attacking the other democratic opponents. If she feels her husband is the best, prove it. Hillary has my families vote in 08.

    July 18, 2007 01:32 am at 1:32 am |
  13. Jennifer, Houston, TX

    Oh please...some "attack." So, she talked up her husband's plans and criticized the plans of another candidate. What is this world coming to?

    July 18, 2007 01:42 am at 1:42 am |
  14. Miranda, Edmonds, WA

    I find it slightly hypocritical that Elizabeth Edwards chooses to criticize Hillary Clinton's approach to healthcare when John Edwards made a lot of his money being a personal injury lawyer. Suing doctors doesn't exactly help his position on universal health care.

    July 18, 2007 02:17 am at 2:17 am |
  15. Amanda (Greenwich)

    I cannot take any person who claims that her husband's "face lit up" when speaking about poverty issues and so she quote-unquote-told-him "why shouldn't he do something about it?" Let's admit that Edwards's face lit up when he/she thought about all the struggling people in America who would be voting. So they strategetized their campaign accordingly. It would have been more than enough to say that it's an issue her husband cares deeply about, nothing too specific or asinine. What did Edwards do ever in his life before running for president to address this issue that he so cares about now? Do we all seem like simpletons who gobble up everything the candidates say? Maybe the country has become so dynamic that we welcome couples to be active participants in cmapaigns. Fine and good. But let's not take seriously this woman who tells idiotic lies.

    July 18, 2007 02:49 am at 2:49 am |
  16. George, Crawford, Texas

    Why did Mrs. Edwards only comment on Hillary Clinton? Because she is the only woman on the ticket, and about the only real competition John Edwards has. Barrack Obama may be up there in the polls, but anyone with a serious grasp on rality knows that he will never be elected President. There are far too many racists in this country to ever allow that to happen. The rest of the candidates don't have much hope of winning either. That leaves the Hill and Billery Show.

    July 18, 2007 06:00 am at 6:00 am |
  17. Tricia Charlottetown PEI

    John and Elizabeth should both be home taking care of their Children's Mom.
    Children are a Parent's first Priority.

    July 18, 2007 06:47 am at 6:47 am |
  18. Jeff Spangler, Arlington, VA

    My anecdotal experience is that while some women like HRC for her "toughness", many more say they will not vote for her under any circumstances. I won't either, and I've never voted for a Repellican President.

    July 18, 2007 07:03 am at 7:03 am |
  19. S, KC, MO

    I am confused about my opinion, but I believe that the Edwards are having issues that are serious enough that family should come first. I admire the determination. However, it seems to me that they need to spend time working through serious family issues. I don't want anyone to misconstrue my admiration for John Edwards. I would vote for him in a NY minute. But family must come first. Right now, Elizabeth must be his priority. Otherwise, it will appear that he is insensitive to his own.

    July 18, 2007 07:33 am at 7:33 am |
  20. Adam, Boston MA

    For the '08 election, rather than lend support to a GOP candidate, I will be focusing my attention on keeping 'Billary' from getting elected at all costs- so hooray Elizabeth! Take as many shots as possible cause it can only hurt Clinton as Edwards is still polling a distant third and needs as much interaction w/ her and Barack as possible to try and win public appeal from some confrontations.

    July 18, 2007 08:11 am at 8:11 am |
  21. PT

    When she starts knocking a fellow democratic competitor, you know that she and her husband have realised that they are losing the presidential race and desperate. That also shows that JOhn Edward is not a presidential or leadership material.

    July 18, 2007 08:12 am at 8:12 am |
  22. Al, San Francisco, CA

    I can sympathise mommy emlizabeth's personal cancer illness and frustration with Johnny boy's falling in polls in his 2nd bid for president. Instead of bad mouthing the front runner, she has to realise that Johnny boy does not have the right stuff to be the president. Johnny boy is so bad now, even Bill Richardson is ahead of him in New Hampshire.

    July 18, 2007 08:27 am at 8:27 am |
  23. J.R. Grossman Mt. Laurel, NJ

    Did anyone think to just muzzle Elizabeth Edwards..whoever would run against her husband would be no good in her eyes!

    July 18, 2007 08:41 am at 8:41 am |
  24. Barbara, China Grove, NC

    The only relevant thing about this story is contrary to popular belief women do not automatically support other women. If anything, it is a much tougher sell.

    July 18, 2007 08:50 am at 8:50 am |
  25. Sharane, Baltimore, MD.

    Good for Elizabeth! Hilary is all soundbite and no substance. Obama and Edwards are the real advocates for women!

    July 18, 2007 08:53 am at 8:53 am |
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